If you’re new to web analytics, or the management of web analytics, it’s always helpful to get advice from someone whose been in the industry. Here are a couple of simple principles I’ve found helpful:
- Investigate and be skeptical of claims by vendors. Upgrading a tool? Migrating to a new tool? Completely replacing one? Adding a tool to your analytics arsenal? Someone is then trying to sell you something. Vendors really want your money. And when it comes down to it, it seems the bigger the vendor and the smaller you are, the less attention you will get, even when you need their help really badly. Vendors attempt to have their own, differentiated spin on web analytics – one of the reason the WAA developed standards. Avoid falling into the mental model of any one vendor… push their envelope… champion for standards. In doing so, make sure to realize that a good relationship with a vendor based on an understanding of mutual strengths and weaknesses will lead to collaboration important to your success.
- Don’t bias yourself when it comes to data collection. Page tags are imperfect. Orchestrating and maintaining comprehensive, deep tagging is never easy. Log file analysis, while often disdained, has utility for situations where page tags are insufficient (say you want to detect how search bots crawl your site) or when tags are impractical (mobile). Packet sniffing can be beneficial when you can’t tag or access log files. In fact, some combination of hybrid data collection, for example page tags and logs, might be the best option for a given situation. It’s up to you to work with your team to determine what method is most appropriate to use to reach your goals.
- Realize that your IT department is your ally. Marketers can’t do web analytics without IT. Whether they help you include page tags, locate and synch your log files, or monitor the implementation of your packet sniffer, you will need to develop and maintain a relationship with IT. You, the business marketer, may think quite differently about web analytics than IT, so work toward a mutual understanding that supports business and technology goals.
- Reconcile what it means to you when you hear that “Web Analytics isn’t easy… Web Analytics is hard!” That’s a quote from Eric T Peterson. He’s right. You need people, processes, workflows, dedicated resources, teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. How do you prepare an organization for something that is hard? How do you prepare a team? Training, education, evangelism? Yes, that helps… You can make it easier by reading the books, checking out the blogs, going to the conferences, taking a UBC course, and participating in industry organizations like the Web Analytics Association.