Our #nightmarebeforeholiday series is back! And to kick things off we’ve asked our analytics team to impart their wisdom on how to avoid a #nightmarebeforeholiday moment when it comes to all things data. Not only did they share their secrets to setting up a reactive plan, but a proactive one as well. Things could fall apart. Fingers crossed that they don’t, but, it is always good to plan for anything!


  • Implement tag monitoring tool (ObservePoint)
    • Nothing hurts more than losing tracking (all right well maybe some things hurt more, but missing out on data is pretty terrible). And it doesn’t even take a full tracking outage to cause pain. A simple loss of add to cart tracking can really hamper an eCommerce team from being able to dig into the causes of unexpected performance. Luckily, there are a lot of great tools out there to help monitor the tracking implementation. Tools like ObservePoint do not require any installation on your site. So, even if you are in code freeze, there is still time to add a monitoring tool to your mix.
  • Set Alerts
    • Of course, even if your tracking is working as expected, you can still experience major dips or bumps in metrics. Make sure you find out about those anomalies as quickly as possible by setting up alerts as we enter the crazy peak of shopping. Perhaps the button to add to cart has disappeared for Android users, and suddenly mobile conversion rate falls precipitously. Getting an alert setup in Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or IBM analytics will notify you of the data issue and help lead you to any potential issues that need to be rectified. Note that in Google Analytics (GA) the shortest granularity to set up an alert is daily, while a tool like Adobe can be set up to alert hourly.
  • Goals
    • Goals are a useful tool in GA. They help monitor if sessions accomplish the desired outcomes on your website and they help identify actions you don’t want to happen as well. So, don’t let the positive connotation of the word ‘goal’ trick you into thinking these can only be recording positive outcomes. It’s just a great way to measure what percent of your sessions complete a certain action. So, go ahead and set up a goal for when users view a 404 page, or when users perform a site search with no results. Those goal completion metrics become valuable benchmarks that help add to your ability to dig into the ‘why’ behind site performance.
  • Create Dashboards
    • Perhaps it goes without saying, but nobody actually enjoys manual reporting. If you are someone that just loves pulling reports, then send us your resume because I’m sure we can find something to keep you busy (j/k we are in the midst of a major initiative to eliminate manual report pulling). So, for those of you who don’t want to be on the hook for pulling the daily numbers for the exec team, do yourself a favor and utilize the dashboarding tools already available to you through your analytics platform. Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and IBM Analytics all have the ability to create reporting that can not only pull together your top KPIs but can also deliver that reporting to an email list.
  • Unfiltered view
    • How many of us are ‘safety first’ folks? Probably not a majority, right? But here’s an issue where it is imperative to keep a safe, unfiltered and as close to raw as possible set of data. What happens, for example, if during holiday you get an alert (yay alerts!) saying that the bounce rate for direct traffic suddenly skyrockets and you discover it’s from bot traffic? Well, you’ll likely do your best to identify a feature unique to the bot (e.g. browser version, or even better IP address) and add a new filter to stop that bot traffic from being recorded ASAP.  Hooray for a job well done! But, what happens if your new filter accidentally stopped a bit more than just the bot traffic and now you are underreporting traffic and sales? Well, if you’ve got an unfiltered view in place then there is nothing to fear, you have a backup version with ALL the data which can always be segmented after the fact to pulling the metrics you need. Just make sure you have this backup view in place.


  • Filter out Bots as identified
    • As mentioned in the topic above, having an unfiltered view, often bots appear out of the blue and begin skewing data like bounce rates and conversion rates. Using your proactive alerts, you should be ready to identify abnormal behavior that may be caused by bots and create new filters to stop them as they are identified. Just make sure as you create any new filters that you test them first, and that you have an unfiltered view in place as a backup.
  • Adjust site search settings
    • You should be monitoring your site search activity daily during peak holiday shopping times. This is the time of year when users are seeking an item to buy, and they feel the time crunch. That means more site searches in comparison to browsing for products. So listen to what your visitors are asking for, how they are searching. Maybe they saw an article saying that sweater capes are the hot gift for the season (Liz Lemon will be proven right!). And let’s say you have a lot of inventory in sweater capes. But, you don’t call them that, you only call them knit ponchos. See where I’m going with this? So, all those searches for ‘sweater cape’ may be yielding no results and showing a close to 0% conversion rate. But, if you’re watching and listening to what those users are searching for, you can make adjustments on the fly in your site search tool and make sure that ‘sweater cape’ is a synonym for what you have called ‘knit ponchos.’

Need advice on what alerts to set up? Have an alert setup you just can’t live without? Want our list of top recommended alerts? Curious about our analytics solution? Whatever your question (or comment), we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at and cheers to your holiday success.