Saturday, February 6, 2010

Web Analytics Association in Finland

There has been tweets, comments and blog posts from Steve Jackson, Jim Sterne and Miles Bennet about Web Analytics Association in Europe lately. As a chairman of WAA Finland, I would like tell my story: back in September 2008 I heard that WAA was looking for a new country manager for Finland and I was nominated.

I was little bit surprised but also knew that I was one of the most active blogger and participant in web analytics events. I got selected, probably pretty much by Kalle Heinonen and Steve Jackson, in October 2008. I was thrilled and honored. My first questions to these gentlemen were; why you picked me and what do you expect from me? I was ready to work for WAA and these guys saw my passion for web analytics. That was, and still is, my first driver.

I love to share, teach and preach how useful web analytics can be. I was full of energy and inspiration when I started with the board of directors for WAA Finland. I have to admit that I didn't know much about WAA back then. Naviatech has been a member of WAA since March 2006, but most of the action happened actually during the Web Analytics Wednesdays in Helsinki.

First of all we started to plan how we could raise awareness of web analytics and WAA in Finland. We set up some goals and thought about the value for members. We agreed that Web Analytics Wednesday kind of events would be our main product, so to speak, and we simply started to execute these events. We did a huge voluntary job (Naviatech people around 200 hours in 2009) for getting sponsors, speakers, venues and participants in place.

I believe that we succeeded last year very well with over 400 people attending our events. In February we had an event around online videos, in May we concentrated on search marketing and metrics, and in September we had a big Web Analytics Conference about multi-/cross-channel Measurement. I was really happy about organizing these events, we even created a Youtube channel.

I will give you some numbers; our average feedback from all these events was 3,46 (scale 1-5). Our total costs for last year were 10.500 € and I guess we got 10 new professional members. It's true that we got 1.000 € from WAA last year (was it reward or bonus for having a agreement), so cost per new member is 100 € for WAA and 950 € for us.

Somewhere during the March there was effort for Nordic collaboration mainly by Steen Rasmussen, but unfortunately we didn't manage to have regular (Skype) meetings after all. I ran to global WAA first time in February and since then I have been involved with Steve Jackson, Clare Madden, Jim Sterne, Aurélie Pols & René Deschamps Otamendi, Steven Budd, Eric Peterson and probably couple of others. I have learned some but to be honest, I really don't know what are the roles of all these people? To me the global WAA organization is still unclear.

I had a good talk with Jim Sterne last October at eMetrics in Stockholm. I asked about organization, reporting and funding/budget things and got good answers. I did couple of things according to his advice but found out that the reality was little bit different. I have ran into copyright, cultural, language and even political issues during the first year. I have got different kind of advices and rules which makes the whole thing very confusing at the moment.

In the end of 2009 we lost Kalle Heinonen, Vincent Kermogant and Esa Peltonen from our board and we have been establishing a new board and actually terms & rules for our board members. We just had a meeting with our new board so we will announce new people and roles very shortly. It's very true that we have got a budget (around 1.000 €) for 2010 from WAA. Because of the new board we haven't planned how to spend this budget yet.

Jim Sterne said to me; remember that WAA is member driven organization, and that's one reason why we are planning a member meeting and combined Web Analytics Wednesday event somewhere in February-March. I love executing things rather than negotiating, and in order make things happen we need people who can act.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in global vision and appreciate any help but if you want to rule us and say how we should run things...then I don't think it's working. At the moment I feel that the international WAA organization is giving us more rules and restrictions than actually helping us. I'm sorry that I have to say this but that's how I feel right now.

We started this year by announcing a web analytics research in Finland. We tried to create more value for members but unfortunately we got rejected money wise by the WAA. I was frustrated regarding to explanations and the process. I just hope that one of our members, TNS Gallup, will still give some sort of discount if our other members want to buy that research.

One thing is sure: I will keep on sharing, teaching and preaching, with Naviatech, WAA or other non-profit organization (e.g. IAB) or community (e.g. I have got very positive feedback but also some shit - but that's normal when you do things rather than sitting on your ass at the office. I warmly welcome new members, sponsors, speakers and help - I really believe that there's a place for WAA in Finland and we are able to provide value for our members!

But...dear WAA, please notice that we are the experts of this particular market, please try to understand our culture and listen us even when we use bad English, please also notice the time difference and that we all have a day job. Please let us do things in Finland - don't expect us to jump immediately in with your heavy training & certification in English, when we have so much basic education to do with SMBs (although we do have very mature international clients as well).

I believe we can collaborate with Nordic and global WAA but maybe little bit differently - and if somebody wants to fire me, that's ok too. I will step down anyway in the end of this year and I want to say afterwards that we gained some progress during the two years I was a country manager... : )