Here’s what I learned this summer (3)

What else did I learn this summer, while talking to loads of UK industrial companies about their websites? I learned that many companies do not have website traffic analytics data, and even fewer are actually using it to calculate return on investment from online campaigns, or their website as a whole.
At many companies, I asked what analytics data they had on their website visitors, and they pointed to some horribly crude log analysis program provided for free by their website host – something like AWStats or Webalizer. A chart of “hits” (whatever they mean) and very little more. As long as that chart was going up, they felt that was enough.
Well, secretly, they didn’t feel that was enough. Most marketing managers are quite aware that this data doesn’t really mean much, but they aren’t sure what else they should be using, what it could offer them, and how they would get it working on their website. So web data analysis has been discreetly pushed under the nearest available carpet, along with many other aspects of online marketing which seem like hard work.
The strange thing is, installing proper traffic analysis applications on your website can be very easy. It can also be free (how about that?), and for anyone who likes to see if their marketing investment is working, it can be fascinating, as well as very profitable. Putting something like Google Analytics on your website is so important that we cover it in week 1 (yes, week 1) of our Insider Programme. We explain how to set up “goals” and start measuring what your web traffic is worth soon afterwards, but anyone can do this with one of the many books available on the subject.
There are many excuses for not analysing who your website visitors are, what they’re worth to you, and if your investment in getting them there is paying for itself. But in the end, they’re all excuses. So the third thing I learned this summer is how many people don’t realise how straightforward and affordable it is to analyse website traffic. I hope we can start to change that, because as people start to spend more money on online marketing, it’s crucial that they don’t start to waste more too.

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