Let There Be Light (2003)


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In the beginning, the IT department created the Web server and the server log. And darkness was upon the face of the marketing department.

And the spirit of the home page moved upon the face of the marketing department and the marketing department said, “Let there be reports.” And the marketing department saw the reports. And it was good

And the marketing department divided the hits from the visits and called the hits pageviews, and the visits they called sessions. And the marketing department said, “Let the reports be gathered together unto one place, and let the PowerPoint graphs appear that we may know the full power and glory of our Web site.” And it was so.

Or so they thought.

For over a span of time the statistics poured forth, the results were displayed, and kaleidoscopic charts were abundant, resplendent in their brilliance and reassuring in that all lines proceeded in their inexorable elevation up and to the right. And the marketing department dwelt in peaceful indolence.

Improvements to the Web site came there none.

For lo, the reports and graphs were generated not from lights in the firmament yielding a font of wisdom, but from the rote recording of Web server transactions which conveyed neither insight nor enlightenment.

And Senior Executives came among them and asked what Knowledge they had gleaned from their reports, charts and graphs. And after a prolonged silence the eyes of the marketing department were opened. and there was heard a wailing and the gnashing of teeth. And they knew that they were naked; and they sewed inkjet printouts together and made themselves coverings.

The marketing department wandered from the dessert of ignorance to the wellspring of IT asking, “Hi-tech, hi-tech, why hast thou forsaken me?” And the IT department said, “Behold, I have given you every datum bearing information which is upon the face of all the Web site, and every report, from the which is the fruit of a server yielding logs.” And the IT department rested.

And the marketing department went unto a Sage and said, “How can the graphs bring forth ideas, the ideas yielding actions, and the actions yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the site of the Web?” For thus is manner of speaking of the tribe of marketing.

And the Sage said, “Let not the issue of the IT department be your guide, but resolve to know your own aspirations. Strive to know your own purpose, and do not prostrate yourselves at the printouts of misguided prophets. To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven,” sayeth the Sage, “and you must know your purpose if you are to adjudicate which data will best divulge unto you whether you have done what is right and good in the site of the Web.”

And the Sage said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the Web, and subdue it. And have dominion over the visitors to the site, and over the relationships of thine customers, and over every living thing that clicketh upon your site.

The marketing department returned to their cubicles refreshed with erudition. And they ascertained the identity of calibrations that would lead them not into frustration, but deliver them from Advil®. And the IT department was enthralled that the marketing tribe had become decisive and purposeful and thus were they able to forge new reports embodying valuable wisdom as a veritable tree of knowledge.

And so it came to pass that in the first month in the second year of the web analytics endeavor, on the first day of the month, in the second hour of the third teleconference of that day, that the new reports were brought forth. And the new reports revealed the way and the light to the increase of their profits through the betterment of their Web site for all customers for ever and ever.


(Originally published on Marketing Profs February 11, 2003

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. So beautiful and true! Then as today.

    Another way in which eating from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” may cause temporary expelling from paradise is probably when the consumers become aware of … politics.

    For example, the knowledge may prove that in a test of alternative site designs A vs. B, version A leads to more overall revenue and even more profits. Yet, it so happens that version A as a side effect causes more traffic to flow away from product XYZ and over to product ABC.

    The owners of product XYZ will not be happy. They have probably been tasked with sales goals for product XYZ which will now be harder to meet. Some less than holy discussions will follow…

    This kind of trouble is not unique to online marketing optimization though. Some large Unica customers in the banking sector implemented automated optimization of which product will be pitched to which customers and when (regardless of channel). And they found that getting political agreement to let the algorithms reign took much longer than putting the software in place.

    Very worthwhile though.
    Thanks much for posting!


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