The web has become crucial to businesses. As the online world evolves, more and more businesses’ websites are now running in real time. This makes web analytics more pivotal than ever. As the understanding of Web analytics increases, it’s definitely making its presence felt. No longer are just dashboards, but have instead, become an integral part of and tool that measure and manages businesses. More and more web analytics tools are being increases. But just how to decide which web analytics system is right for your business? Here are some guidelines that will hopefully prevent you from falling into the common pitfalls web analytics has:

Ask yourself whether and why you need a web analytics system

Do not fall into the trap of installing analysis for the sake of analysis. Do your research well. Find out which data and metrics are crucial and which will make a difference to your business.

Place value and accuracy of analytics before consensus

Make sure all your departments are involved in the planning stage of your web analytics system and get the opportunity to voice their opinions or put forward suggestions. However, don’t let this impede you and don’t fall into the consensus trap. Keep projects focused by deciding which metrics are crucial to your business, and which are distracting and have to go.

Focus on the future

Plan well and focus on your future business needs. A very common pitfall is businesses which focus on metrics that were important in the past. Always remember that you should have a web analysis strategy in place and it should be more future-oriented than anything else. Many tend to fall into the comfort zone but this can prove to be a costly mistake. Don’t get caught up in what you are or were used to when it comes to data metrics, but instead, zoom in on what it should look like.

Misunderstanding metrics and their methodology

This may seem very straight-forward, but it is vital to never forget that online marketing and media are still in their infancy, especially in Asia. It is important not to take your web analytics system at face value. Remember that definitions and methodologies that determine metrics such as page views, visits, unique visitors, and ad deliveries are different in every system. There are still no real standards in peripheral metrics. Bear in mind that counts can vary between 5 to 30 percent. Counts can differ between different products from the same vendor as this often depends on whether you use its installed or ASP products, or how they are configured.

There is still no easy solution to solving the above problem. It is however key to understand how various systems count, resolve that with your own needs and then accept the compromises that have to be made.

Ensure you are taking real advantage of the systems' intelligence

Do not hamper your web analytics success by getting caught up in rules and procedures. Concentrate on training the users of your web analytics system well and thoroughly, and then step back and enjoy the benefits of wide-use of your system.

Don’t get caught up in just pretty data visualization

Everybody likes pleasing visualization tools but more often than not, too many people worry about pictures first, and the data and analysis second. Graphics are fantastic at getting attention, but it is essential to remember that that often, they are not very good at putting data into action. What looks good in reports should be a means to the end, not the end in itself.

Beware: Ensure your data is not compromised

It is imperative that you read the fine print of your web analytics agreement. Sometimes, the vendor may reserve ownership rights of the data, data aggregates, and/or metadata derived from providing analytics services. It is not uncommon for companies to use subsidized analytics services to create aggregated research products they sell back to the marketplace, or even use analytics services to build a databases of anonymous consumer profiles and their behavior to use in ad targeting when those consumers visit other sites. All this of course often without the knowledge/approval of and compensation to the publishers whose sites were harvested.

Remember your privacy policy

Do not create conflict with your own privacy policy. Again, read the fine print of your agreement with the web analytics vendor. If service providers harvest consumer behavior and reuse it for targeting on third-party sites or resell it, it may violate your privacy policy. Be aware and vigilant.

Ensure your web analytics system allows you to take the action you want

This again may seem like a no-brainer, but remember that there are as yet, few systems that enable an enterprise to take immediate, tactical steps to leverage data for value. Being actionable for many of these vendors often refers to the system being able to generate reports (like user navigation). Remember, while this knowing and understanding this may improve your users’ experience, very often these reports do not gel with real-time action.

The above best practices all reinforce the same thing – always be alert, understand your web analytics wants, needs and actions, and never assume anything.

By Shanti Anne Morais