Christmas is nearly here, and e-Commerce sites are decking their halls in preparation for this period of intense activity which brings holiday enthusiasm but a fair share of stress as well.

And as everybody knows, in order to pull off a successful holiday season, preparation is necessary.

Each crew member has been working hard with the year’s end in sight: buyers, marketers, graphic designers, usability specialists, tech teams, community managers, customer service reps, logistics managers, billing and HR departments… everyone is on the starting block.

And now, it’s my turn to take the stage.    (drumroll)

I’m Jack the Analyst, and I’m here to put my skills to work for these business users.

And on my shoulders I carry the cornerstone that will bolster the efforts of this busy beehive.
But alas! For me, there’s no room for error, as everyone is counting on my meticulous efforts.

My mission? Provide these business users with analytics data and insights that will enable them to verify and evaluate the performance of their initiatives, to validate their choices, and to make the right decisions at the right time.

To do this, I must carefully prepare data production, while fully taking into account the objectives of each business user’s profession.

As Jack Skelligton the Analyst, I can tell you – it’s a real nightmare!

The task is tough, the pitfalls are plentiful (Oogie Boogie is lurking in his lair, ready to ruin the party) – I’ll have to be extra mindful to correctly carry out my mission.

Are you also in Jack’s situation?

One well-informed digital analyst is worth two: You all know Jack’s story, and, unlike him, you’ve got a gift pack to help you avoid confusing Santa Claus and Sandy Claws. This magical toolbox is your AT Internet Analytics Suite and its applications.

Our scriptwriters have whipped up a short summary (please indulge us, Tim Burton!): Read on, and put an end to your nightmare!

Step 1: Assess the various initiatives led by business users, and their needs.

This information will help you create an analytics dashboard compiling all the information needed to analyse your Holidays 2015 operation.


Step 2: Tagging and settings

Before throwing yourself into Christmas campaigns, in order to be sure that data is retrieved, it’s necessary to verify and re-test the implementation of your web analytics solution. There are two essential actions to follow.

The first consists of accessing your analytics solution interface to verify all settings and check that they’re up-to-date, or see if you’ll need to add or adjust certain elements prior to running campaigns. For example, if you’re launching a new marketing campaign, has it been defined in your analytics interface? Maybe it involves a new ID that needs to be created in order to retrieve data. This step is vital – if there’s a problem with your setup, your data might not be retrieved at all. You must therefore take the necessary time for this verification.

Once everything has been set up correctly in your analytics interface, the second step is to functionally test your site. If you’re pressed for time, focus your efforts on the most important and prominent elements, even if we recommend a full test:

Test your campaign links. If you’ve prepared your campaigns in advance, you should already have the list of all the links to be used, whether those are sponsored links, display ad links, or email links. Click on all your links to verify that they show up in your analytics interface. You can also check that hits are counted directly in your browser’s developer tools window (shortcut: F12).

Important: To test links, it’s crucial to delete your cookies between each click, otherwise the tracked data will be inaccurate. A workaround for this is to use private browsing on your browser; after each click, simply close your window and open a new one.

Verify your goals, and their tagging. If you’re an e-commerce site, the first thing to do is place an order on your site and check that it’s correctly tracked.
For other types of sites, you’ll need to reach the final goal step of your campaign, whether that’s a click on a form button, or reaching a specific page.
Run these tests, then check your analytics tool interface to be sure that the conversions are correctly accounted for.

If during your verification tests, you find results that don’t match or add up, you’ll have to adjust your tagging.
If you’re too short on time, you can always reach out to AT Internet’s support teams. They’ll be able to help you find workarounds like using rules in Data Manager.


Step 3: Reports and dashboards

Ideally, your analytics dashboard will contain reference data from the 2014 campaign, and will serve as a foundation when organising your 2016 holiday initiatives.

Note: In order to be fully objective, any comparative analysis must take into account calendar effects  (whether Christmas falls on a Friday or a Monday will have an impact on purchasing behaviour, deliveries, customer service, etc.).

With analytics dashboards, business users can track performance, in real time, against their established objectives.

With analytics reports, they can examine more specific, targeted elements to be studied in greater detail.


Points to consider (a non-exhaustive list):

1/ Holiday preparations, implementation and tracking

  • Holiday-themed site “decoration”: Results from A/B tests on graphic elements and taglines
  • Promotion schedule: thorough tagging of specific calls-to-action, creation of campaigns (external ads, and internal house ads) and landing pages, email campaigns, SEO, marketing automation scenarios, CRM connection
  • Tracking by device/medium/source: mobile, web, apps, social networks, search engines, etc.
  • Logistics: shipping policy, return policy, and additional support measures
  • At the half-way point, plan to track one-time actions: clearance sales, highlighting certain product substitutes when others are sold out, flash promotions
  • Recap events, actions and results for your records

2/ Between Christmas and New Year’s

  • Review, debrief and analyse the operation: create a detailed record (report)
  • Make readjustments, if needed, before year-end
  • Manage anticipated peaks in customer service activity: dashboard creation

3/ At the end of the operation

  • Full analysis of and debriefing on the completed operation
  • Comprehensive and precise history (reporting) to be used for next year’s holiday operations


Analytics Suite applications to use for your reports and dashboards

  • Tag Composer: Verify the tag version. If needed, use Tag Commander  (edits, additions, multivariate testing, etc.)
  • Settings: Setup (campaigns, goals, conversions, self-promotion house ads)
  • Data Manager: Create variables and correspondence tables
  • Segments: Create segments and/or cohorts (particularly useful if you have data from the previous year)
  • Custom Metrics: Calculate tailor-made KPIs
  • Data Query: Build queries and templates for your dashboards
  • Report Manager: Create reports
  • Dashboard Manager: Create dashboards

Happy holidays to all!

With contributions from Florian Rieupet, AT Internet Product Marketing Manager


Knowledge Manager After On-the-job and Off-the-job training in purchasing and management at Carrefour, and sales training at Procter & Gamble, JM evolved in the mass retail sector in top management positions for large hypermarket, central purchasing and logistics groups, with an expatriate experience in Africa as a Central Director. In late 1995, JM created an Internet start-up company and after three years (late 1998) he joined Alain Llorens and the AT Internet team where he took up his position in sales, and was also at the heart of the pioneering adventure in Web analytics. At 55 and after almost 13 years seniority in the company, JM has been Knowledge Manager since 2009.

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