Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Learning About Web Analytics: Part I

If you're a true marketer or a hard-core blogger (or both) you have to be into web analytics. Ok, you don't but you should and I have found some good resources.

Bloggers for the most part write because they want to be heard and your analytics justify the time that you sit at your keyboard (for the most part although my wife still needs convincing and web stats, well they just don't do it).

You may like to monitor your site traffic to see which keywords and referrers are bringing traffic to your blog or who is on your blog right now (hey - I see that you're reading this and I thank you from the bottom of my keyboard). It's also cool to see which countries are reading your blog. I wrote a post about free feed icons and I was receiving traffic from all over the world and was featured on many Asian sites - it was quite interesting but I couldn't understand the comments on those blogs. I also had a pleasant surprise last week when I found out that Brian Carrol over at Start With a Lead was linking to my blog. This caused a bit of a traffic spike and I thought my blog was broken. In this way, my blog is similar to the thinking process that an e-marketer goes through on a daily basis (or should be going through!!) : "What actions that I take will drive traffic to my site and increase conversions." Examining and understanding web analytics is key to this.

As a blogger, one of my goals is help others in marketing (specifically B2B marketing) better understand the e-marketing landscape. A very good newsletter that I subscribe to is the ROI Revolution News that is created by Google to promote its services - specifically Google Analytics. The format of this e-newsletter is interesting as instead of pushing people from an email to a regular web page, it takes people to the ROI Revolution blog. I think you will be seeing more and more of this type of format as blogs maximize the SEO effectiveness of your content (I wrote about this previously). And here's a saying that you should adhere to: If Google is doing it, it's worth trying.

I'm new to Web Analytics, Where do I start?

There are many different places to begin. With web analytics (just like SEO), it's not enough to understand the terminology. You need to jump in with two feet. If you just want to get your feet wet though , you may want to start by subscribing to ROI Revolution News. What I like are some of "Analytics Basics" articles that provide overviews to some of the key areas of web analytics that you need to understand.

For example, some marketers may be worried that their web stats are skewed because of a recent Jupiter report article that says that 58% of their users delete their cookies. This can affect historical data that you may be tracking on a certain person. The article explains the difference between first party and third party cookies as it's mostly third party and not first party cookies that users are deleting. The article of course plugs Google Analytics as it uses only first party cookies.

Google also offers free tutorials on how to use Google Analytics. What I recommend you do is to start up a blog perhaps through blogger and sign up for the tutorial. In this way, you can test out what you learn from the tutorial. One of the keys that you will learn as you get into web analytics is testing is crucial. What offers, content and/or keywords are driving content to your site? Google Analytics is also free so it's definitely worth having a look at. In the real world analytics testing is like testing out different methods to prevent your new puppy from messing up your new carpet. Eventually you will hit pay dirt but things may get a bit messy on the way there.

At the moment, I'm in the process of moving so you may not hear from me for a little while but I plan to write "Learning About Web Analytics: Part II" in which I want to focus on some key metrics that you should be keeping track of on your site. I've just finished reading a book called "3G Marketing" and found some interesting information that I'll share.

In the meantime, please let me know other resources on web analytics that you have found helpful. I've heard that
Web Analytics Demystified: A Marketer's Guide to Understanding How Your Web Site Affects Your Business is also a good start.

Until next time,

Chad H.

PS - For web analytics, one of the most important concepts is to understand that a point in time is irrelevant (i.e. number of pages on a particular day). What is crucial are the trends. Are your site visitors going up over time or going down? Why is that? Is it becuase your packing up all of your stuff and moving and don't have time to write? :)

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