Web Analytics

Web analytics is a generic term meaning the study of the impact of a website on its users. Ecommerce companies and other website publishers often use Web analytics software to measure such concrete details as how many people visited their site, how many of those visitors were unique visitors, how they came to the site (i.e., if they followed a link to get to the site or came there directly), what keywords they searched with on the site's search engine, how long they stayed on a given page or on the entire site and what links they clicked on and when they left the site.

Web analytic software can also be used to monitor whether or not a site's pages are working properly. With this information, Web site administrators can determine which areas of the site are popular and which areas of the site do not get traffic. Web analytics provides these site administrators and publishers with data that can be used to streamline a website to create a better user experience.

Web analytics is not the measurement of something

If you’re paying someone decent money to tell you how much revenue you made yesterday, I have a bridge over the Pacific Ocean I’d like to sell you.

Web analytics is not defining success or determining if you’ve reached it.

Sort of the opposite of the above. If you’re asking someone in this role to tell you what “success” is, that is not necessarily good – although, they should be helping the business translate success terms into web terms and vice versa, and once earned, should have a seat at the strategic table. But when it comes to defining success, the only right way is from the top.

Web analytics is not Omniture, WebTrends, Urchin, Google Analytics, Click tracks, or anything where improvements are measured in version numbers. “Building” is not a hammer. ”Driving” is not a Garmin GPS. ”Cooking” is not an oven. Web analytics is not a tool. So what is web analytics, then? It’s more or less answering these five questions, not individually, but holistically:

  • Who is coming to my web site?
  • What are they doing (or better, what are they trying to do)?
  • What is the gap between what they are doing and the ideal? (and do we mean ideal for the business or the customer? good question!)
  • What are some concrete ways we can close the gaps?
  • How can we get more of these people?
  • That’s not so bad, right? Well, you show me an Omniture report that answers this group of questions and I’ll show you a pink velvet unicorn that can cook pancakes.

It takes the financial analyst months to answer a similar set of questions:

  • What is this company worth??
  • What are they doing to grow?
  • What does the stock market think they’re worth?
  • How does that compare with what it is worth: Is it a good buy/sell/hold?

Again, seemingly simple questions, but they have to leverage a lot of knowledge, experience, and research to answer them.

Think about this at your workplace. No more reports that show page views, sales, or uniques. Get real answers. Drive real decisions. Have real conversations. You should be talking about the business, product plans, marketing plans, overhead, technology issues, human resources limitations, and rolling all of your web data into the context and limitations of the world around you. Because there is a world around you. Everyone will be better for it.

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