Over the past 5 weeks, we have been introduced to the world of web analytics. I say introduced because after thorough reading of the class textbook, analyzing websites for clients, following blogs, and having multiple conversations with the industry’s top consultants, I have gained the insight that nobody can predict or clearly gain a full grasp of web analytics or where it will be 6 months from now.
So if this is the case, then how can you know what is the best direction for your business and how to analyze your data correctly? In short, there is no right or perfect answer. There are many wrong answers or choices in analyzing data, but there does not exist a perfect formula or solution that can be applied across all industries or businesses. The reason for this is that web analytics is not a science; it is an art that must be mastered to understand fully its complexities and how to maneuver around its pitfalls and traps.
Avinash Kaushik, the author of our book, posted on his blog “Google Analytics Tips: 10 Data Analysis strategies That Pay Off Big”. This post was so helpful that it was used in our team analysis of a website. Yet even under these suggestions, some components or tips were not helpful for the website that our team analyzed did not have the resources or funds to follow the advice of Avinash. This does not mean that the tips were wrong, only that some of them were not available, or useful for the success of the website and the goals of the website administrator.
Charlene Li is a well-known and respected individual in the world of social media. In fact her recommendations and insight into this world has provided direction in the chaos of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Path, Pinterest, Pair, and any other social media network available on a smart phone, tablet, or computer device. Last year in an interview Charlene went on to profess that based on the last 5 years of growth in social media, the future of social media “will be like air” in the sense that it will be everywhere, and needed by everyone. This metaphor also applies to all businesses if they are interested in surviving and remaining relevant in their industries. This is a bold statement, but not unfounded. With the success of social media, people are expanding and growing their networks, both private and professional. But does this imply that those without a social network or social media campaign will not be able to survive or compete? Does everyone have to join Facebook, or Twitter to stay relevant or remain in the public eye? What if your busy is at its most profitable without even having a Facebook page to “Like”? What do you do, or how do you make sense of this?
Last week Eric Peterson wrote a response “Social media is like coffee…” to Charlene Li’s comment of “social media will be like air” and if this is actually true of the landscape of web analytics and its future. For Eric likened social media to coffee and not air. The reasoning being that everyone does not like coffee, nor needs coffee like people need air to survive. This analysis is a more accurate analysis of the landscape of social media and also web analytics. The reason being that many businesses have survived and even thrived without the Internet, analytics, or social media/campaigns. One example is the restaurant Chef Vola’s, located somewhere in Atlantic City, NJ. I say somewhere because only a select few individuals know where the restaurant is located and how to contact them for dinner, special events, or parties. This restaurant is so selective and secret of their patrons, that you have to be invited by an individual that has already eaten there in order to be invited to the restaurant. It even says on their website, “This is not an advertisement. The phone number and address cannot be obtained from this web site”. Based on the limited access of their website, it can be concluded that this restaurant is doing fairly well against the advice of Charlene Li. But what can be derived from this? Now what?
In the end success will not be driven by social media or web analytics, but by the companies/individuals willing to offer a better mousetrap. The only problem is that not everyone needs a better mousetrap, for the bigger problem is that everyone does not know where to get that better mousetrap and this is where analytics, campaigns, and social media come into play. Business will flounder, fail, thrive, grow, expand, or remain stagnant. It all depends on what the goals of the company are. These tools are just tools that magnify the goals of the company and expand their reach to a broader network of clients, customer, and potential customers. That is all. In the simplest explanation that I have received about web analytics is that it is mass marketing, but now with more data to analyze prior to the purchase.
Based upon everything that has been covered in class and how to optimize you website, the best thing to do is to start with clear, concise, and specific goals for what you want to accomplish. The next step is to determine on way to accomplish those goals. For some companies, websites, analytics, and social media/campaigns will fit right along your goals. But for other companies, these tactics may not be needed or necessary to reach your goals. That is why knowing your goals, your strengths, and what you need to succeed with provide greater profits and success than throwing money at analysts and companies with the assumption that a website will resolve all of your concerns and issues.