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Web Analytics: A Primer For Shiners
Web Analytics: A Primer for Shiners
By Andrew Edwards, Managing Partner, Technology Leaders LLC
My definition of web analytics would go as follows: it is the science
of measuring actual usage of websites, in order to provide data for
those making critical decisions about the web-dependent portions of
Web analytics is the key to understanding and managing your web,
mobile and social media efforts. Most of the time, folks see analytics
as a marketing tool but it can also help make money by allowing you to
understand how to enhance productivity-for instance, when you want to
understand usage of an internal portal or dealer network. And web
analytics is especially important if you simply don’t feel like
throwing your money away on unsubstantiated web marketing or web
initiatives of any kind. Every on line activity can and should be
measured by anyone who expects to use their web presence to make money.
I’ve spent some years doing enterprise web analytics and the most
common misconception about web analytics is that it is not critical to
getting ROI out of the web. It happens to be absolutely essential for
this. Most of my customers are large companies, and it surprises me
how even some very big marketing organizations don’t really seem to
The second most common misconception is that web analytics is easy or
simple. It really isn’t-at least not if you want to do it right.
Unless you’re already a certified wizard in the subject, you’ll not
want to be doing this on your own.
Third most common misconception: that it matters a great deal which
of the most popular tools you use. This is not the case. Omniture,
Google Analytics and WebTrends are the major vendors these days and it
really doesn’t matter which one you pick. They can all do the job
(provided you pay attention to the first two comments above). Google
Analytics, as many already know, is free to use, but the expertise
associated with getting it to work properly is not.
Here are some of the steps associated with success in web analytics.
Each one is designed to help you get analytics reports about your
users that actually mean something to you and may actually help you
make smarter marketing and IT decisions.
1 ) Decide what’s worth measuring. Often, companies stumble on this
one and never get started. Suggestion: don’t take this one too
literally. You know what your business is about. An analytics expert
will listen to you and make smart suggestions about what’s worth
measuring for your business.
2 ) Create a measurement strategy. Figure out what reporting has to
look like for your different constituencies (internal, partners,
bosses, marketing, or just you). Work with someone who knows what the
tools will deliver and put together the analytics equivalent of
3 ) Develop a tagging strategy. Now we’re knee-deep in technology.
Tagging is the way most analytics tools track activity on the page.
Custom tagging and careful placement are key components. We’re talking
tagging = bad reporting.
4 ) Get your developers to take analytics seriously. Often my company
creates tags and then works with a customer’s developers to place the
tags where they need to go. This can be an iterative process. Your
developers need to be on board or they will cause a ton of delays-not
good when you’re pining for insight.
5 ) Configure the tool. There are thousands of possible reports. Only
a handful will be relevant to your business. A company with expertise
in the tools and technologies will be able to select the right reports
and set the tools up to deliver them.
6 ) Analyze and take action. You may need help understanding what
those graphs and pie charts are telling you, once they’re set up.
That’s okay. But once you’re seeing that your sales funnel is failing
at page ‘x’, make sure you follow through by changing page ‘x’ and
testing the results.
A web analytics engagement can take many forms, shapes, and sizes. If
you have any questions about the subject, feel free to contact me at:
Andrew Edwards is a founder and Managing Partner at Technology
Leaders, the world’s most experienced web analytics consulting company.