Over the years, one of the most common questions I receive related to digital analytics is, “Which digital analytics product should I use?
Many organizations have one product and wonder if they should keep using it or migrate to a new one. They’re often attracted by the promise of a brand new implementation and great new product features. However, since there are so many good analytics tool options, the best approach to choosing an analytics tool begins not with an eye toward what shiny, new analytics tools or features exist, but what your business needs require of an analytics tool.
Start with Why?Why are you considering changing products? In my experience, most organizations looking for new products are struggling for other reasons and the product is simply a “convenient” thing to change. The problem with switching products without examining why you’re doing it is twofold. First, far from “convenient,” switching products can require massive effort and costly time. Second, if you’re switching products as an excuse to gloss over real problems that your organization might have with analytics, you’ll find that those same problems still exist, even when you’ve implemented the new product. To ensure that you’re seeking a change for productive reasons, conduct a thorough analytics implementation audit of your current product before going too far down the road of selecting a new one. Perhaps you have the correct tool, but it’s been poorly implemented. Or maybe you do, in fact, need a different tool. Data from your implementation audit can guide your best path forward.
Consider Requirements Instead of Product FeaturesIf your implementation audit indicates that you should continue comparing products, beware the next mistake I see organizations make. Vendors and clients alike love to make a list of cool digital analytics product features and compare them side-by-side. You sit through demos or read product comparison websites until you feel like you know which tool is best. Unfortunately, while it’s easy for vendors to dazzle you with product features (and nice dinners!), at the end of the day, most products have comparable features. Instead of looking at product features, identify your top analytics business requirements. These requirements should represent the most important things you need the digital analytics product to do for your organization. Once you’ve determined your business requirements, don’t just consider the features highlight reel, ask each vendor to demonstrate how their product would satisfy each of your business requirements. What is the point of selecting a product that has fifty features over one that has forty features if you don’t need most of those features? By using your business requirements, you can zero in on which features are the most critical and relevant for your particular business. In addition, if you follow this approach, you can get a head start on your subsequent implementation by leveraging what was demonstrated.
Weigh Opportunity CostAnother thing to keep in mind when considering switching products is the opportunity cost of the effort. When you switch products, you will likely have to do a lot of re-work and re-training, and that’s time not spent delivering insights to the business. You might also have team members who have invested years learning the ins and outs of a specific product, and that knowledge will be lost or, in extreme cases, they may decide to go to a new company that uses the product they know! You may also lose year-over-year data, which can have a significant impact on some types of businesses.
Solutions, Not BandaidsIf you are frustrated with your digital analytics implementation, consider taking the time to understand the source of your frustration. Blaming the product is often the easy way out and an unnecessary switch can be a bandaid for much larger issues. Be willing to look introspectively at your analytics program and be honest with yourself about what is causing the issues (or contact someone like me to review it and give you some hard truths!). If you do determine that you need a new product, use a requirements-driven approach instead of a product feature-driven approach to make sure you get the product that will meet your most important business needs.
Get ROI from digital analytics by ensuring you have the best tool for your organization.
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