Web analytics has moved from a peripheral back office technology tool to a top-of-mind business application. Web analytics solutions now promise to:

  • Accurately measure user behavior on your Web site, regardless of complexity.
  • Allow you to understand customer motivations and act on the results.
  • Allow you to analyze data to discover insights that are specific to your business.
  • Integrate data between online marketing technology and traditional business systems.

Great promises, but then why are traditional customer insight and business intelligence specialists not flocking to Web analytics? And why are there so few companies willing to state that their bottom line has improved because of Web analytics.What is the real value of Web analytics?

So many companies implement robust and expensive Web analytics solutions only to find that they are nowhere close to realizing the promised returns even though they have mountains of data.On investigation, they find that they need to further invest in training, education, internal processes and maintenance, and taking action.

Training

Training the receivers of web analytics data on the meaning of the data and what to do about the data is as important as training the users of the web analytics tools.As people change jobs, technologies change, businesses change direction and markets are created or lost. So too should your internal knowledge be maintained.

Education

Constant education ensuring organization-wide understanding and insight into web analytics is key to success. Frankly, if you do business online today and less than 50 percent of the people in your business understand your online channel, you are far behind your competitors.

Internal Processes

The more people in your organization who understand the value of your online channel, the more they will buy into ensuring the channel is optimized on a continuous basis. The biggest killer of internal adoption of Web analytics is distrust in the data, and the biggest cause of this is not maintaining the data. Build processes into your development cycles that ensure web analytics is top of mind when launching anything online. What is the purpose of putting something online? Surely organizations want to monitor, measure and improve toward that purpose.

Taking Action

Let’s assume enough people in your organization know how to use your Web analytics platform, understand what the data means and have the top-level buy-in to use the Web analytics data to make decisions about Web strategy, design, product placement, visitor segmentation, etc.

What actions can you take to improve your online conversion? If you know your bounce rate on a specific campaign landing page is higher than another one, what will you do? Change the campaign landing page? And what if that results in an even higher bounce rate? Will you change back to the old one? Will you try to improve your creative? Will you divert the budget to the better performing campaign? Who will continuously analyze the real-time data? Who will make decisions about this, and who will execute them? Now assume you’ve a got a real-world situation: thousands of pages, thousands of products, many campaigns running simultaneously, including thousands of search keywords with only a handful of employees managing the online part of the beast.

As you can see, there are numerous options with unknown outcomes that could be positive or negative. The analytics industry players have taken an approach of encouraging their clients to adopt a testing strategy. This implies that because you can’t accurately predict what will happen, the only option is to try something, to measure it in real-time and then see what happens. You are encouraged to test your ideas on a segment of your users in either an A/B test or a multivariate test, as your new idea could potentially have a devastating impact.

Most companies buy into this idea, and some technologies available of late enable companies to adopt testing strategies. These technologies vary from ASP to self-hosted solutions and allows you to test specific content, text links, call to actions, images, etc. and to measure them against specific required outcomes such as increased order conversion, increased sign-up rates, etc. Previously it’s been notoriously difficult to test a specific onsite item using a specific segment that is identified on every visit to your site. Some of these problems still remain, as you are dependent on cookies for identification while the technologies available today have become extremely successful at running tests with varying levels of complexity.

Web analytics has real value and can give you an advantage over your competitors if you have the ability to act on the data and insights it provides.

 

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