Recently I was on a keynote panel at the National Center for Database Marketing (NCDM). In response to a question from the audience, one of my co-panelists pooh-poohed the value of web analytics. He referred to it as just a fancy reporting mechanism for web activity with little relevance for marketing. I was a little surprised by the comment and was itching to make a rebuttal, but the moderator chose to take the conversation in a different direction. “Web analytics” is one of those terms that tends to be thrown around casually by folks seeking to impress others and can mean different things to different people (and mean nothing to most people).
The Web Analytics Association defines web analytics as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage.” Within the confines of this strict definition, my co-panelist was probably accurate. However, the value of marketers of web analytics comes from what is done with the data after the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of the web activity. We have found that linking this activity to unique visitors, whether they be customers, identifiable prospects or even anonymous visitors can yield very rich, actionable insight. It is possible to perform sophisticated segmentation on visitors and use this segmentation to target communications such as advertising or cross sell or upsell messages. See one of our recent case studies that discusses this approach.
Once the web behavior of individual customers and prospects is being tracked it can be linked to their behavior in other channels, such as call centers, retail stores or branches as well as their responses to email or direct mail and as well as their activity on external sites, in some cases. Web analytics can, therefore, be not only relevant to marketing but actually very central to understanding customer behavior and value and lead to actionable segmentation.
It is more than just a reporting tool.