The Top Five Pain-Points for Web Analysts Today

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Web analytics is a rewarding endeavor that can give a company a serious leg up online. But it's not all roses and honey. The key issues facing Web analytics companies begin with a lack of understanding of just how complex Web metrics have become. As president of the Web Analytics Association, the top five pain-points I have discovered are:

It's Rocket Surgery: This is not as simple to understand as spreadsheets and PowerPoint charts. There are three levels of education required and nobody has the time to take classes.

  •  Measuring beyond the clickthrough.
  •  Identifying and optimizing discrete business processes.
  •  Using Web analytics as a visionary tool to see into the hearts and minds of the marketplace.

Good People Are in Short Supply: There are not a lot of analysts with the deep math background needed to determine statistical significance and explain Zipf's law and the Taguchi Method. It's possible to get serious ROI from these tools without these people, but it's not easy, not fast and not going to get you to competitive advantage.

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It's Much Harder as an Afterthought: The technology is often considered after the fact. Retrofitting Web analytics is like trying to figure out how to attach a speedometer to a finished car. That extra wheel sticking out the back works, but it looks odd and impacts performance.

It Doesn't Add Up: No tool can tell you precisely how many of anything you have on your Web site aside from sales and revenue. The number of people who came to your site, the number of pages they looked at, etc, are all conjectures. The measurements are not exact no matter how high the expectations. What makes these tools powerful is that the changes in those inaccurate numbers over time are correct. Understanding the difference between the numbers and the trends is where the money is.

Best Practices are Best Kept Secrets: Because this is not a simple set-it-and-forget-it situation, companies who are doing great things with Web analytics are shy about sharing. Best practices are shared in only a couple of online discussion groups and specialty conferences.

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