Chatting about data and analytics at SES San Jose with Bryan Eisenberg this week, we hit on an analogy that I believe helps to explain how important web analytics and online marketing optimisation is.
Thinking about your web site as a piece of theatre is one way of being able to judge how successful it really is.
Why do we go and see plays?
We go and see old plays like Shakespeare or Miller because they're classics. They've stood the test of time, excited and thrilled millions of visitors and people keep going back because they're tried and tested.
We go and see new plays because they've been marketed to us or someone's told us we ought to see them because they could be good or the cast looks compelling.
They have potential.
But what if the production is bad? What if we get to the theatre and the play is badly directed, the building is damp and the interval drinks too expensive?
That's a BAD experience.
Are we likely to go back?
Are we likely to recommend the play to a friend?
The "west-end theatre land" of London is notorious for plays ending after their first night because of the critics. If the critics don't like the show, their word is enough to close it. That's why west-end theatre runs have previews. Directors "usability test" the play, gather feedback and tweak the production until it's optimal.
It doesn't always do the trick but they try different things in order to make the audience's experience as good as possible.
Jim Sterne talked this week of asking yourself how do your audience feel when they come to your web site?
It's no different a concept than a theatre director asking himself the hard questions of the paying audience that come to watch his show.
Wikipedia describes The Theatre Of The Absurd as a genre of plays where the characters are "caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions."
We have the opportunity to make sure those characters are not our customers.
Yes, wading through mountains data can be tough.
But it's the data that informs how you should direct and ensure your web site is a sure-fire hit and critical success.