Web analytics is a crucial part of business for any company with a website. When correctly leveraged, it can be used to assess and improve the utility of a website, which can lead to increased sales/customers/referrals and ultimately…profits.
So what do we do?
Well, according to our textbook, Web Analytics 2.0, there are a few “steps” that show the need, process, and outcome of web analytics. First, your company needs to have the desire to continually improve your online customer’s experience. You need to realize just how large of an impact a properly designed and functioning website can have on your bottom line. If you already know this, then you’re ready to choose the tools you’ll use to analyze both your own and your competition’s websites. But we’ll talk about the available software a bit later. For now, just remember that it gives you a means to collect and analyze data. The analysis of all the data your utility collects is the next step (and also the most critical). There is an industry “rule” that says that within your analytics budget, 10% is spent on collecting the data, while 90% should be spent on paying people to go through and decipher it. Finally, you should be able to draw conclusions from the deciphered data, and make decisions that will ultimately improve your website and business.
What digital analytic tools exist?
Far and away the most popular is Google Analytics. One article suggested that over 50% of the top 100,000 websites in the world use Google Analytics. It’s free and user-friendly while also being robust and powerful. The same article claims that every digital analytics professional they spoke to heartily recommended Google Analytics. There exists a non-free version, but it’s reserved for large businesses with lots of money to invest in analytics, at a cost of $150,000 per year.
Another popular tool is Clicky. While not free, it is very affordable at ~$80 per year. It is advertised as being more visual than Google Analytics, showing a sort of “heat map” of user’s clicks. It also performs many of the same, basic functions like showing number of visitors, visitor location, time spent per page, etc.
One of the most famous pieces of digital analytics software is Adobe SiteCatalyst. Unfortunately for us/our class needs (as well as most small businesses), it costs upwards of $5,000 per month. Although honestly, it takes quite the digital analytics expert to benefit from the additional features that SiteCatalyst offers over Google or Clicky.
There are many, many tools available. A business’ needs will depend on their size, industry, goals, and several other factors. It’s important to realize that the correct solution for your business might lie in a combination of software. As Avinash Kaushik, the author of our textbook put it, “the quest for a single tool to answer all your questions will ensure that your business ends up in a ditch, and additionally ensure that your career will be short-lived.”
With that short introduction, I think we’re ready to start learning and understanding digital analytics!
Avinash Kaushik. (2009). Web Analytics 2.0. Hoboken, NJ: Sybex.