Getting Started with Web Analytics

Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Analytics

Web analytics is the measurement, collection, and analysis of internet data for purposes of optimizing website effectiveness and marketing campaigns. Web analytics data can empower business owners with insight on how to increase conversions (e.g. sales, leads, whitepaper downloads, information requests) from their websites and how to maximize their marketing return on investment (ROI).

  • Increase Conversions
    • Study your site’s bounce rate and conversion funnel. Follow visitors through the navigation of your site to see where the weak (and strong) areas are.
    • Use the data to improve your conversion path and conversion rates while reducing bounce rate. Maximizing conversion rates allows you to compete more effectively in the online marketing space. If you convert better than your competition you can afford to pay more per customer and grab more traffic.
  • Maximize ROI By Segmenting Traffic
    • Identify which referral sources (i.e. search engine marketing, banner ads, email campaigns, sponsored links, social media, etc.) are generating the most revenue for your business.
    • Find new marketing opportunities by segmenting and analyzing organic traffic.

I’m often asked to give my opinion on different third party analytics products.  For many marketers, the decision on which product to implement is not an easy one as the web analytics landscape has changed drastically over the last few years.  Although there are a number of alternatives, most online marketers end up choosing between two products: Google Analytics and Omniture Sitecatalyst. Google and Omniture are on top of the web analytics industry, competing products are falling behind quickly. Here are some pros and cons of the top two web analytics products:

Google Analytics

  • Pros
    • Free of charge
    • Easy for non-specialists and specialists alike
    • Works well with small sites and enterprise-class websites
    • Includes algorithmic driven intelligence engine report changes in data patterns
  • Cons
    • Limited data history
    • Modification is somewhat limited
    • No way to add offline sales or internal data.

Omniture Sitecatalyst

  • Pros
    • Data in real time
    • Can be modified to suit the needs of specific websites
    • Set targets with corresponding alerts
    • Extensive data history
  • Cons
    • Expensive
    • Difficult for non-specialists
    • Difficult implementation

The best way to get started with web analytics is to implement a basic platform and expand your knowledge as your site develops. I started with the basic Google Analytics code on my site and then slowly branched into conversion tracking, traffic segmentation, and ecommerce implementation. I also experimented with some other products when Google Analytics could not deliver what I needed to see.

What has your experience been with Google Analytics or Omniture?  Are there any other platforms a web analytics newbie should consider?

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