The True Complexity of Web Analytics

As marketing continues to be more digital, web analytics grows in importance as the need to track and measure customer as well as consumer engagement in the digital landscape increases.  The prominence of digital marketing is calling for analytics vendors to develop more functionalities and capabilities to keep up with “ever-diversifying” number of consumer touchpoints.

Today a large part of an average consumer’s day is spent surfing the internet (ecommerce or a company’s website), interacting with mobile applications (Pandora) or some other form of digital technology.  In order for a company to have a strong connection with their customers, they need to understand how their customers work and interact with their business.  That information helps drive the company’s business and marketing strategy providing insight that may include a customer’s wants or needs. This is where the vendors come in.  The article Forrester Wave: Web Analytics, Q2 2014 talks about five vendors (Adobe, AT Internet, Google, IBM, SAS Institute, and Webtrends) and their various capabilities for providing great web analytics. Forrester then goes on to rank the different vendors.

I was really surprised at this point in the article to see that Google was just a “strong performer” vs being listed as a “leader”.  As the biggest search engine on the internet I thought how did they not pull out first position?

The figure above helped clarify how and why the companies were ranked in that order (Adobe, IBM, Webtrends, AT Internet, Google, and then SAS Institute) base on these three levels of criteria:

Current Offering – To assess product strength, evaluated each offering against six dimensions: data handling; metrics, dimensions, and correlations; reporting and analysis; application usability and administration; integration; and service and support.

Strategy – compared the product and corporate strategies of each vendor to assess how well each vendor is prepared for future conditions.

Market presence – benchmark size of the vendors’ web analytics businesses, evaluated each company’s financial strength, installed base of clients, and employee base.

The Leaders: Adobe, AT Internet, IBM, and Webtrends have succeeded in the market because they all share a strong focus and commitment to building enterprise capabilities into their web analytics products.  Whereas Google as Forrester’s Strong Performer because instead of building their enterprise capabilities they have instead maintained a focus on ease of use to ensure rapid time-to-value.  Businesses need to harness all of these resources and use them effectively to improve their objectives and strategy all while maintaining a competitive edge.

Simply going over the 6 units on Google Analytics provided me with a solid understanding as to the true complexity of the digital world.  It is fascinating how each and every interaction with a website tells an analyst something about the visitor. This got me thinking of the lyrics in one of The Police’s songs “Every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watching you”.  How crazy is it that someone is monitoring your online movements?

The units two and three were most interesting to me.  In unit two they start out by explaining business objectives which are important in the process of deciding which measurements to track. The Google Analytics system essentially lets you customize each aspect of analysis to ensure the results display only relevant information based on your needs. Then it went on to talk about conversions and conversion attribution.  This concept helps determine where to place your conversion credit based on the different customer interactions and actions as well as the sequence of events.  In unit three I was able to learn more about what Google Analytics is all about and the structure of the system.  Google finishes unit three off by explaining how the key metrics are calculated as well as page visit duration and what that can tell you about the visitors experience with a specific company’s online presence.

The reading and the Google Academy’s units proved just how complex web analytics is and that this is just the beginning.

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