Luna-park is an online optimisation company founded in 1998 by Markus and Christian Vollmert. It offers companies optimisation strategies for their online channels, setting the main focus on SEO, SEM and Web analytics activities, as well as on training.
How did you become a web analyst?
I have a degree in computer linguistics. When we started the company back in 98 our main mission was to provide search engine optimisation services. One of the main issues was to determine the impact of these optimisations: how much additional traffic had we generated? We were using log files analysis for this and at the time it was more technical than it is now. My studies included server administration in Unix which was very helpful! I saw a strong cultural change 4 years ago when the Internet became the major media instead of other channels such as the press or TV campaigns. The task of reporting gradually became a wider topic with increasingly elaborate tools, more possibilities and more insights for the clients, whilst at the same time becoming less technical.
Who are your clients?
A wide range of companies including corporate websites, with websites for 50-60 different business units, specialist tourism websites etc. In terms of web analytics, our clientele is usually big businesses, who request reporting or implementation services or a combination of both. However, we have a larger number of reporting projects than implementation projects as most of the vendors except Google analytics offer implementation packs. Our points of contact are generally marketing or website managers. In larger companies the website manager makes the link with the marketing, communication and IT services. We sometimes help this person to translate marketing requirements into technical terms for implementation for their external agency or programming team.
What are their challenges or needs?
Some clients want a full report with our recommendations plus new requirements to be implemented. Some requests are more about tool usage. It depends on the type of clients. Some projects only require an audit at first, but once we have given our presentation the clients have more questions and ask us to provide them with recommendations for optimisation. We can also help clients to determine which variable(s) they should track in order to measure a particular objective. There is one point that is common to all projects: we give lots of explanations. In doing so we make sure that our clients gain knowledge and understand the meaning of their data.
How is your company’s web analytics activity organised?
We have hotliners who answer general web analytics questions. A dedicated project manager is then identified as the luna-park contact for each project. Project managers deal either with search or analytics projects. For larger or somewhat specific projects we can create a dedicated taskforce with several different business skills to match the project’s requirements.
What are your constant challenges?
To show what WA can really do and how the tool can help our clients in their daily work. Many clients who come to see us already use a statistical analysis tool but it’s often poorly implemented, or the implementation is old, or the tool only contains the basic functions. Many of our clients only use their platform to 15% of its capacity! It takes time to explain the benefits of implementing a new tool which appears costly. Our clients don’t see that the extra cost associated with implementing a new tool would provide them with more insight on their data and that any optimisation carried out would be really profitable. I can see that people are getting more and more mature though: web analytics comes early on their to-do list when it comes to implementing new things. Web analytics is complex because it can’t be managed separately as an add-on to the project as it is common to so many areas! It has to be integrated as part of the initial thought-making process which is systematically not yet the case.
What do you think the future holds for web analysts?
I see that Web analytics – and SEO – are now aspects that are increasingly integrated into projects right from the beginning and I am optimistic about this. It will avoid implementing and re-implementing, and above all it widens the capacities of each tool. As a big challenge for the future I can think of the multidevice. My work PC, iPhone, tablet etc., how will you connect your history, bookmarks and general behaviour to web analytics tools? This concept promises interesting perspectives in terms of implementation and data integration.
What has been your greatest success as a Web analyst?
The most satisfying thing, after you have dug into the data, prepared a workshop, given your recommendations and presented them, is to have your client say that they will benefit from them at the end.
Which pitfalls have you encountered throughout your career as a web analyst?
Very often the web analytics that is available to the client it is not really used to draw insights, it is just used for number crunching: they don’t use it to improve campaigns and web pages. Instead, they rely on consultants’ advice, market trends, articles or feelings! Sometimes experience can be enough but sometimes it would be a lot easier if you simply used the data!
With hindsight, what piece(s) of advice would you give to anyone starting out as a web analyst?
You have to be aware that it involves a lot of explaining: both written and oral. You need to like to explain things. If you only like manipulating data, this job is not for you! It also requires the skills of a good translator, converting ideas and requirements into technical implementations and relevant reports in order to answer questions. The web analyst’s function is an important one. Data culture has matured, but the people who actually understand the data you get from websites are still few and far between. Also, as the multidevice brings new analysis challenges, it is an illusion to think that one day one big tool, where you will be able to understand everything, will exist. There will always be new technologies and services, requiring human know-how to understand and benefit from the data.
Thanks a lot Markus! We have been working together for a long time and really appreciate your activities in Germany, and all the effort you make in spreading the message of professional web analytics throughout the market. You are definitely one of the key people in Germany who knows about Digital Analytics!