Identify The Known Unknowns: Leverage Analytics Custom Alerts Occam Razor Blog, Avinash Kaushik, 15 Jun 2010
Most of the time spent by Marketers & Analysts tends to be spend looking for "known knowns".
Things we know and expect to see in the data, we look to see if they are there. "Oh look Google is still our Number 1 referrer and we are selling lots of product x as we always do. Yea!"
Some of our time is spent reacting to the "known unknowns". Looking for things we know might be happening but don't know when they happen. "I would like to know when conversion rate dips below q%, let me go see if that happened last week."
None of it is spent looking for the "unknown unknowns".... mostly because it is a hard problem to solve. But one that is important for Omniture and WebTrends and Coremetrics and other tools to solve. "I did not even know 20% of our customers were from Australia and that 9 days ago they all stopped coming to our site."
I believe that actions taken based on web analytics data dramatically increase when we shift from our obsession with the known know[n]s to the known unknowns.
From: "Oh my God I did not know that metric had crashed for that segment!! If only I had known that I would have taken action sooner."
To: "Thank goodness I had an alert in my inbox about that big drop yesterday, I'm off to fix landing pages for that segment. No I can't talk to you about Desperate Housewives, I have to go take action!"
And you know what? That is easier to accomplish than you might think.