Web analytics is an amazing and powerful tool. But like any data-driven tool, it comes with challenges. Many businesses implement great web analytics systems, only to be completely overwhelmed by the flood of data they receive.
Recent research backs this up. A recent survey by Think with Google uncovered specific challenges related to analytics technologies – namely, 61% of marketing decision-makers struggled to access or integrate the data they needed.
First and foremost, making effective use of web analytics means that you need to be clear about your goals. If your focus is on particular demographics, make sure that you are collecting data that relate to these. If, alternatively, your focus is on converting visitors to sales, then put these data front and center of your web analytics reports.
You are probably thinking that is easier said than done. You might be right. But in this article, we’ll look at the three largest challenges involved with web analytics, and how to overcome them.
1. Too Many Metrics
The first and most obvious challenge that businesses face when it comes to web analytics is that these systems give you a ridiculous amount of detail on website traffic. As a result, it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees.
The key to overcoming this challenge is related to the point above: you should first identify what your business priorities are, and then focus on the right metrics. As Jay Baer of Convince & Convert puts it, just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean you should.
A good way of implementing this advice is to make a dashboard of your key metrics. If the key measurements you are making cannot be presented on one screen, you are measuring too many. Streamlining your reporting in this way makes it easier for those without technical know-how to instantly see how well your site is performing.
2. Data Accuracy and Security
A second major challenge when it comes to working with web analytics is that the data produced are sometimes not accurate and that they need to be stored in a secure way.
Collecting accurate data is something of an art, particularly because many users are now hiding their identities using VPNs and ad-blockers. In addition, mobile and web apps introduce extra complexities to the process. Overcoming this challenge is arguably the most difficult task in web analytics, but can be achieved by working with a responsive and advanced web analytics firm.
When it comes to storing data securely, many companies are lagging behind. This is because many firms have been collecting user data for years, and have not taken steps to comply with newer legislation, like the GDPR. If this applies to you, you should do some research into how to streamline compliance processes, so that legislative compliance is built into your data-collection strategy from the ground up.
Overcoming this challenge also requires that you put data privacy front and center when designing your web analytics process, and put in place the technical tools necessary to protect user data from theft. This includes research on how you should store data, as well as making sure that you are open and transparent with your website visitors as to what data you are collecting, and what you do with it.
3. Insufficient Knowledge
Finally, there is the issue of insufficient knowledge. Arguably, this is the largest problem that most businesses face when it comes to working with data analytics, and that is for two main reasons.
On the one hand, finding and recruiting employees who understand web analytics is difficult. In the survey mentioned above by Think with Google, 26% of marketers said they didn’t have the right analytics talent to meet marketing objectives, such as improving campaign effectiveness.
On the other hand, there is also a lack of knowledge among business leaders and executives about just how powerful and useful web analytics can be. This means that, even if you are collecting valuable data on the performance of your website, it can be difficult to present this in a way that genuinely informs business decisions.
Overcoming this challenge requires a dual approach. Firstly, it is undoubtedly the case that knowledge of web analytics needs to be increased among all employees of a business, and not just the data team. In recent years, there have been several attempts to make the subject more accessible to non-technical staff and to stress the importance of these data in ongoing business processes. Among these are Web Analytics & BI Wiki built by CoolaData, which aims to collect insights from across the industry and make them accessible.
Secondly, those performing web analytics need to improve when it comes to pointing out the practical outcomes of their data. Highlighting the direct consequences of these data – the way that they dictate how to gain a higher SEO rank in Google search results, and can directly impact on the creative design of marketing content – should be the start. Going further, it should be stressed that web analytics is not only a way of assessing existing marketing campaigns, but can also inform every stage of the marketing cycle.
Putting Web Analytics Front and Center
The challenges posed by web analytics are shared with many other forms of technology. Even in 2019, it is apparent that many companies have purchased or implemented data collection technologies, but that the managerial capacity to make use of these data lags far behind technological ability.
This was put clearly, in fact, by Avinash Kaushik in an article on CMSwire, in which he pointed out that “Most organizations are convinced they lag behind their peer group when it comes to deploying and managing the performance of marketing technology. The CMO of a Fortune 100 company was embarrassed to admit that her team struggled to manage all of their technology.”
His words of wisdom? “Believe me – we are all in the same boat.”
In short, if you are finding working with web analytics challenging, don’t be embarrassed. Your competitors are too. Just make sure, as ever, that you keep ahead of them.