I recently met with an analytics expert in Tokyo and had a discussion about the vendor relationships.
One of the discussions missing from many conferences relating to analytics is how clients build or maintain the relationships, and help web analytics vendors help client’s business to gain more value out of the vendor’s service.
#1) Treat your technical account managers (TAM) like your partner
If you have a dedicated support hours from technical account managers, it is important to have a working relationships that is healthy. Important tracking decisions could be executed well if you communicate with your partner, and explain the details on the business needs.
I’ve heard stories where clients are treating their TAMs like an intern and not leveraging the partner’s expertise and experience/learnings. In most of the cases, TAMs are well experienced and have seen many unique solutions with other clients beside yours. If you treat them like a partner and not an intern, then you can have a healthy dialogue on great solutions that you may have not thought of.
#2) They don’t know your business as much as you do
This was also mentioned at the ‘Accelerate’ conference by Web Analytics Demystified in SF.
Web Analytics vendors are good at what their do, and are the subject matter experts in their solutions. They’re facing hundreds of other clients and your business is not the only one. You should not expect your Web Analytics vendors to know 100% of your internal projects, politics, technical environment, managements, etc.
You have a fire-drill because the web site went down and important data was lost, and your TAM didn’t pick up the fact that the site was down and he/she can not help you recover data. Don’t expect your TAM to be a super man who can deliver or fix everything. This is totally non-sense.
Another example… Reorganization happend, and the key contact with Web Analytics vendor is gone, new person comes in, don’t expect your web analytics vendor to know everything in between the blank period, and 100% of the previous managements’ projects/tasks.
#3) Set realistic expectations and set priorities
In order to have your web analytics vendors deliver more value and great support, it is important to set priorities straight with your key contacts. 100% of the case, out-of-the-box reports or tag implementations will not deliver to your business expectations or needs. Make sure you have priorities and realistic expectations to have your analytics solution providers to help you get to where you’d like to be with your data infrastructure.
What I do with my TAM is, on a weekly basis we have 30min meeting to go over our task items in Google Docs to collaborate on:
- Priorities (tasks list is numbered in order of priority)
- Status details
- Timeline of expected delivery
- Open questions and items
- Type of support or follow ups
- Business impact
#4) It’s a journey
As I mentioned, out of the box solutions will not cut it in 100% of the cases. Otherwise you can stick with free Google Analytics right? :-)
In addition, it is unrealistic to have your vendor deliver everything from custom reports, tags, segments in one day. It is important to build the road map of the KPIs or metrics to track against the important business questions, tagging implementation, BI integrations, etc.
In fact, digital marketing changes a lot in one year, and expect your data tracking/reporting strategies to change as well. The relationship you have with your partner is an important part of the journey. Some people swap vendors because they’re not building the relationship or managing them right, and probably not even looking at the analytics practice as a journey. Hopefully you don’t fall into that type of management.
#5) Be honest, transparent, and have fun
Same as in marriage or having a girl/boy friend. Honesty is one of the key elements in having a healthy relationship with your partner. I believe it applies to working with any vendors. For web analytics data, it starts from good data planning and collection practice, and it has to go through the process of QA as well as a common launch process. That said, being transparent about your business needs will reflect well on the data collection practice as your vendor may have great ideas or solutions to gain great data.
Lastly, you have to have fun. Bad tensions between you and your support contact is not healthy at all. I’ve learned that having fun in the projects your working on, and sharing the excitements gained through digital metrics will build excitement and confidence in how you and your partners work and grow.