Recent study made by Webtrends indicated that nearly 60% of companies had “some” metrics but still feel that there is room for improvement. Around 15% where confident that they where doing their analytics well and, that is they felt that measuring was a real strength of their team.
My experience is actually that of these 15% over 75% are not doing it properly and have not set among other the right KPI’s.
Most of the time companies are measuring but they have no clue of what their real goals are and there for even though they are collecting loads of data there is little to do with it.
So as companies as questions how do we make our website better, then the question should always be better at what? This goes with analytics also where the question is always what should we measure and the answer is to that what is it that you want to achieve? Companies need to set definite business goals and KPI’s. Simply put if you have set these goals and lined up the KPI’s then will be able to extract the metrics.
I am a strong advocate of companies understanding the full impact of their website, that is not only looking at trends predefined reports such as in Webtrend but using the tool to dig down look at individual pages and understand their role within the site as whole and as importantly look at individuals visiting your site, get the feel for the flow so to speak.
By doing this you can for example measure far better if changes are actually improvements or not. Often when we work with companies that are reinventing the web we find that “feelings” play to strong of a role as we tend to have strong opinions of things, by applying web analytics before and after this can be stripped away and companies can take educated decisions on things. I would even suggest that companies looked at using such tools as Tobii for eye-tracking, but that is another story.
For those looking into what tools to use, I can only point you to www.stonetemple.com where you can find great information on the best tools in the industry. There you can also find a report called (if memory serves me right) “the web analytics showdown”. Read that.
There are also great resources to be found at www.webanalyticsdemystified.com – There you find a great whitepaper on “free” analytics versus not free.
From my personal point of view I tend to favor Indextools, but as you most likely know if you have been doing some digging that there are many out there. The main thing is, start measuring!
If you need a proof of concept number for your boss, get a trial period with a tool and show him “total contact hours of the web to the customer (heard this at the eMetrics, can’t remember from whom). There is no other advertising / communication channel that has similar numbers and actually no other channel can show you their numbers in such accuracy.