5 reasons marketers hate web analytics

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They don't actually say they hate web analytics. They say it's necessary. They say it's an important part of their customer satisfaction delivery mechanism. They say they wish they had more of it, if only the existing web analytics tools were more suited to their needs.

Don't believe them.

I am not -- by a long shot -- tarring all internet marketers (or IT teams) with this brush because I know there are lots of action-oriented marketers who know how to use web analytics and make real changes to drive their companies' online ROI. But I have seen enough over the years to know that some marketers, despite good intentions, can be a drag on the bottom line.

Harsh words? Perhaps. Remember, I'm not talking about everyone. I am talking about the ones who fit into the following categories:

No. 1: Blame the tools

What they say: "The numbers just don't add up, and they never have. The tagging is broken, and even though the site changed since we last tagged, I don't see why that should matter. My developers are saying they've got their own internal tool, and they send me numbers, but even they don't make that much sense. The truth is, these tools have a long way to go."

Translation: "I don't know enough about statistics to be as useful as I should be in a measurement-driven environment. I haven't spent enough time learning the strengths and weaknesses of my tools to know what to count on and what not to expect. I am not senior enough yet to know that a single tool cannot possibly solve problems for me, but only provide information for me to react to."

The cure: There are a number of great books on the market, but you may need more than that. How about the training sessions offered by the major vendors, as well as those offered at industry events like eMetrics? Some companies can even design custom training courses to suit your particular needs. Take advantage of these excellent sources of knowledge about analytics. In fact, immerse yourself in them. Take lots of notes and then get serious about incorporating web analytics into your everyday job.

No. 2: Blame the business owners

What they say: "Our team just hasn't had the meeting yet where we've decided what kind of KPIs (key performance indicators) we want, so we don't feel like we should start measuring until we've done that. Many of our business owners don't have time to understand all the intricacies of the numbers, so I am afraid to show them stuff that's just going to glaze their eyes. Better to hold off until the culture changes."

Translation: "I am not sure I want to be held accountable to my business owners for the success or failure of our online content. So if I invest time in helping develop KPIs and our site does poorly, then what do I say? In any case, I don't feel comfortable making changes to the site without their input."

The cure: If you don't know what your KPIs are, and your business owners don't either, it means you don't know why you have a website -- it's that simple. If you can reduce the KPI question to something more like "what helps me make money," or "what on my site most closely resembles those activities that help me make money offline," you may be getting closer to defining them than you had thought you could be. Once seen in this light, the answers can seem fairly obvious, since even the most reluctant web analytics marketer must know the purpose of the core business itself. (P.S.: You may have to make some changes to the site in order to produce better KPI expression and enable better measurement.)

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