Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Speaking a different Language

Recently, I went on a long awaited holiday to a foreign country where English was not the predominate language. Majority of the time, I do not have that much of a problem because most of the people I dealt with were able to speak English, making my stay enjoyable. That was until I was alone with a person that did not understand English.

This man was trying to communicate with me but I said back that I did not speak Japanese. That is when we had to resort to the oldest language known to mankind; signing! I would like to mention, I am VERY horrible at any games like this, and this was no exception.

The man took his hand up and was twisting his hand in a counter clockwise motion. I made the "I understand" expression with the thumbs up and proceed to turn off the lights. He then proceeds to take his fingers and make a walking sign very low and took his thumb and went across his neck. Needless to say, I was scared at this moment. I hold up my hand and then held up one finger as I went to get my friend.

Now, I hope everyone thought the same thing I did.... this man was going to kill me. I later found out from my friend was he was telling me he was putting poison out to kill some rats. The signs were so clear after I knew what he was trying to tell me. But this got me to thinking; how do we bridge the language between the Analytics, Technology and the Business.

In a way, without thinking about it, we have created a language barrier between those that are in Web Analytics and those that are not. So much so, we have now create a Glossary of Web Analytics Terms. This is great for starting to standardize the industry since each tool has created its own definition (how is a visitor defined?). At times, these definitions are so confusing, we even question our own selves on what we are saying (now how is a pageview and instance different?)

We have no one to blame for this but ourselves. The business and Web Analytics feel the same way I did with the man on my holiday; lets draw a pretty picture and hope they understand what we mean. But who should change; should the business understand Web Analytics or should Web Analytics understand the business?

The bottom line is, the business does not care this page has a high bounce rate or we had an increase of 75% in visits to a particular site. This information is better for the developers, content team, and site specific owners. The business cares about conversion rate and the story of what is happening on the site; what can be done to make the KPI's go up. You can read more about this on another post: Avinash Kaushik tells a story

This means we as the analyst needs to learn to speak like the business. We should not use terms like "bounce rate", "click throughs", "page views" or "exit rate". Do not go and give them numbers and make them think with their left part of the brain. You do this, you have already lost them. Ensure they are always using their right side of the brain where the emotions are. The right side of their brain handles sensations, left side of the brain handles details.

I was at a conference, and a speaker asked which one of these are more effective:

  • 65% of the visitors were unable to complete an order due to an issue on the site.
  • My brother in law was trying to place an order on the site and could not complete the order due to an issue on the site.

If you are like me, the later is more powerful because you are referencing a specific person who was trying to place an order and failed. That was a lost sale due to technology on the company side. The former is just figures, you are not personalizing it. The business will remember the story, not what percentage of orders that could have been lost.

I normally deal with this language difference by presenting the business and developers two separate documents. When I deal with the business, I am allot more elaborate and fill the documents with stories. Now when I deal with the developers, they want the figures and nothing else. A simple excel sheet with the numbers is all that is needed.

Know your audience!!! Once you know what they want and how they want, ensure you deliver. The data is useless if the audience does not understand what you are trying to say

Now how do you handle the language barrier in your own company? Do you deliver different insight to the different groups? Do you have a single language when communicating, and if so, which language (business or analytics)?

Till next time. - John Andrews

Oh, and I still cannot speak Japanese.

image above came from undermuchgrace blogsopt.

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