Some people look at graphs with blank faces. I happen to study them with a smile, like I did when I still had a cubicle job as a Quality Analyst. Ever since I discovered Google Analytics, I’ve used it religiously to increase traffic for a few niche blogs that I own with reasonable success. Google Analytics is a wonderful tool that gives you varied data to play with, and that you get all this sophistication free is just remarkable. However, data by itself won’t give you answers. Perhaps in a later evolution, GA will be able to generate action items in plain English, but that seems like a dream from a distant future.
Avinash Kaushik of Occam’s Razor proposes a 10/90 rule in order to make web analytics work. Basically, it says that your budget should be divided as 10% for the analytics tool, and 90% for the actual living, breathing, thinking analyst(s). People and brain power trumps data gathering, and immensely important in making sense of all the gibberish. Take note that this is not a hard and fast rule. The point is that data interpretation should be the focus, because numbers themselves don’t talk.
The 10/90 rule is also a reproach to companies who tend to spend too much on their web analytics service, sometimes amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, when the same metrics can be had with free tools such as Google Analytics. Avinash recommends the following steps to cut cost on tools and rededicate resources to the more vital task of analysis:
- Apply for a free Google Analytics account at GA Sign Up Page
- Once you get the code implement Google Analytics on your website in parallel with your favorite expensive analytics tool
- Get a comfort level for delta between the two sets of key numbers (you know visitors, conversions, page views etc etc) and create a multiplier (my tool shows visitors 10% higher and page views 10% lower than Google). You will use this multiplier in future to compare year over year trends if you want to.
- Cancel the contract with your favorite expensive analytics vendor and take that $50k or $100k or $200k and: 1) Hire a smart analyst for between $50k to whatever maybe your areas great salary 2) Put the rest of the money in your pocket.
- Your smart analyst will be able to extract just as much value from GA than your old tool, in fact my prediction is that it will be a lot more.
- As the level of savvy in your org grows, as the level of sophistication of supporting processes increased, perhaps in two years you might be ready to plunk down $200k on a web analytics tool and then be ready to extract a corresponding amount of value from it.