Web Analytics Tools: too much like hard work?

Web analytics dashboard design

Hard work making sense of all this?

I am researching across the vast array of web analytics tools that are now available and it is proving to be an interesting exercise. One of the conclusions is that the level of complexity in the majority of the offerings remains far too high. The natural consequence of this is that unless you have an expert in this area in your business or someone with a lot of spare time to devote to mastering it, the exercise becomes a turn-off to many people who don’t even initiate engagement with it as they can’t understand it.

My thinking on this was highlighted when reading Lou Dubois’ blog on Inc.com entitled 11 Best Analytics Tools.

In it he quotes the 90/10 rule: “if you have $100 to spend on analytics, spend $10 on reports and data, and $90 on paying someone to filter through all of that information. Because without a proper understanding of the information these services will provide you with, it remains just raw data”.

And do you know what, he is right. Deriving value from web analytics tools can be labour intensive, hard work and often unfulfilling. Whether it is in analysing own website statistics or activity on the web such as social media monitoring, there is an overwhelming data overload. It appears that the current methodology to address this is to present it in the form of a dashboard. This has the advantage of being a standard format which, with the benefit of some graphic design expertise, can look impressive, but what does it really tell the user?

Large corporations can employ people with the expertise whose job it is to derive the real value from all of this and even employ industry consultants like Meltwater or Radian6 to do it all for them. But for the vast majority of small businesses who are trying to engage with digital marketing, this is a big hurdle. They can’t afford the 90/10 rule. So is it not about time that the rule was seriously broken?

The digital world cannot be protectionist in keeping hold of old methods to hold the knowledge in the hands of the industry experts. Via clever use of technology and simplicity of presentation it must embrace change and lead the education of the layman, thus drawing many more of those currently disengaged bodies into digital action.

In 2011 I believe we must help small businesses by seeing some real progress in developing valuable insights from digital data that are automated to derive and simple to understand.

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