Yes, you may need help making sense of your online metrics

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Yes, you may need help making sense of your online metrics

By Jim Sterne

Free, self-service analytics tools, like Google Analytics, are becomingly increasingly popular with marketers. But all too often, these services are not having the desired impact on business goals.

Web analytics tools, by themselves, are great if all you want to do is see the numbers and set benchmarks. But if you want to actually derive value from those numbers by optimizing your marketing spend, you're going to need some analytical know-how.

To get that know-how, you have two main options. The first is to hire skilled Web analysts to manage your analytics tools. Warning, that's easier said than done. There is a shortage of Web analysts who have the training and experience necessary. Trained analysts are a hard-to-find, high-priced commodity in this industry.

The second option is to hire a Web analytics consultant. Outside consultants are valuable assets who can help get you organized, get tools implemented, then get you started and help you improve.

Third-party consultants have the capability to improve their offerings and services constantly, as they keep up with the industry. By taking advantage of the latest trends in analytics, your company can gain a competitive advantage. Since these consultants have the ability to monitor trends across clientele in similar market sectors, you can skip much of the "trial and error" portion of Web site and marketing optimization.

There are four types of Web analytics consultants who can help. First are strategists. They wake up senior management, provide a view of the possibilities and help your company determine direction and goals. They are great for launching projects and providing a vision tune-up several times a year.

Next are the planners. These consultants pick up where the visionaries leave off and help you create a specific plan of action, identify internal strengths and weaknesses, and select the most appropriate tools. They understand budget constraints, timelines and resource limitations.

The third type of analyst is more hands-on. These are the people who dive into the data and glean valuable business insights. They work on a longer-term basis to act as your guide through the overwhelming complexities of hands-on Web analytics. They become important members of your optimization team.

The final level of consultant works at the cubicle level. They make sure all the proper pages have all the proper tags, that the data is cleansed and that the desired reports are delivered on time. This workerbee supports that expensive person you hired and leverages their intellectual prowess.

Analytics tools are a great start to understanding the vast pool of information out there. But when it comes to driving business value, you might want to call in the professionals.

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