Web Analytics are useless – don’t you think?

Web Analytics – or Digital Analytics as it is called nowadays – only works with data. Those data sources keep expanding and at the same time, the amount of data is also fast growing. So, every Marketing Manager or Business Analyst speaks about the importance of Big Data. That is all true but here’s a frightening fact, revealed by a study from Econsultancy: Lots of information within Web Analytics sources is not used – so that should be the starting point, not the Big Data Revolution.

It is in fact a growing challenge to compete with the speed of collecting data and turning that data into information and knowledge as well as in actionable output to improve the website, attract more people, increase ROI and so on. Using data efficiently is key in today’s digital world. Based on this statement you might think that Marketers really use all good insights from Web Analytics and use it to achieve better performance. That is not the case – A huge part of the content is not used at all.

The main challenge seems to be the coordination of data. Big data volumes are very often not handled properly and not put in right perspective or synergy to other data sources. That is why the Marketers within the study use less than half of the existing information for their business decisions. Less than half of the data!

Only 1 out of 10 companies is using the data in its complete power and complexity to achieve a maximum of insights and avoid taking decisions based on gut feelings.

Graph on web analytics data that is useful for decision making

As published in the study, Web Analytics is not part of the overall business plan or internal company goals – if such a strategy is in place. 34% of the Marketers are not combining Web Analytics data with their existing Business Intelligence strategy.

Statistics on integration with web analytics with business intelligence

In particular, those Marketers on client side are less convinced by the impact and usefulness of Web Analytics data than the year before, comparing 2012 with 2011. And they admit to not giving any attention towards this data within their decision processes.

If these are the facts of today´s usage and set up of Marketing Departments I can only start crying. After more than 15 years of Internet usage for a broad audience and almost the same amount of time of having decent Web Analytics tools in place it seems Marketing decision makers are still offline and acting “old school”. But no. Within leading online companies you can observe large departments of Web Analytics or Business Analytics experts, working together on the power of data that enables better decisions to increase the power of the company. Power meaning turnover, market share, brand awareness etc.

So, how come so many Marketers do not even care about Web Analytics data? Here are 3 answers to that obvious question. Fulfilling only one of these three requirements to build your marketing plan on figures, not on feelings can help you improve your whole business and especially your own reputation within the company.

1.) Move away from Statistics

2.) Get Experts involved

3.) Concentrate on key areas first

To 1.) Move away from Statistics

Working as an Analyst in the online space you are no longer a figure-deliverer. And you should not see yourself as being one. Yes, it is a long way up to the C-Level if you want to communicate internal success or important information but giving up before you start trying is not an option. A Senior Web Analyst needs to be delivering relevant information to departments and/or decision makers that have either asked for it (OK, we have attention) or haven’t even known this data can be delivered (OK, we should gain attention here).

If you send Page Impressions-statistics to Upper Management you are useless. If you send ROI-related information that includes action points for the next quarter, the next campaign or the next product launch you are becoming one of the key players and more and more managers will listen to you. They will even try to contact you in order to know how much more they can make out of “your” data to have better reputation within their department.

To 2.) Get Experts involved

Yes, experts can deliver more insights and better knowledge on needed detailed information. That is why high-end analytics companies like Omniture, Webtrekk or AT Internet do have their own Consulting department. That is why Google Analytics is moving to Premium, including Support and Consulting. That is why so many independent companies have founded a Consulting Unit for Web Analytics. So, either rely and trust them or build up your own knowledge by visiting User Conferences, Online Trainings or Strategy Workshops, offered by your vendor of choice. So, get Experts involved or become an expert or hire experts for your department.

To 3.) Concentrate on Key areas first

Big data gives us all full power, full speed, full performance but also full confusion and full desultoriness. And exactly because we have so much data we have so many possibilities to go for. You can get lost rather quickly. So, depending on the size of the Web Analytics team, concentrate on small steps to achieve. Go check your conversion process and start at the most relevant spots in it. Go check your landing page performance and work on it. Go, analyze the most performing click paths or the best converting entry sources. But: don’t do it all at once. Do it one after the other and dig in the details. Experience tells us, that small but detailed analyzed changes can have a big impact while crawling along at the surface of all possible enhancement steps does not lead you anywhere other than leading you to frustration land.

So, grab your calendar and plan your steps, set targets, control them. Go for it to achieve more.



  1. says

    “A Senior Web Analyst needs to be delivering relevant information to departments and/or decision makers that have either asked for it (OK, we have attention) or haven’t even known this data can be delivered (OK, we should gain attention here).” This is an invaluable tip.

    As a consultant for MaassMedia, the clients my colleagues and I work with often ask for specific information, which we provide. But quality analysis requires going above and beyond what they ask, because we often have a better idea of which insights to look for (hence why they hired us!)

    If you can answer the client’s questions PLUS provide additional, actionable insights they may not have asked for, you will demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of analytics.

  2. says

    Ashley, Thanks for your positive feedback. Glad to hear you already act one step beyond the customer´s requirements and website goals. I agree that sometimes an external party can have better perspective on what to look for within a specific company or project. Regards, Ralf.

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