EBook: Intro To Web Analytics

March 03, 2007
By Robbin Steif

Eric Peterson’s free webcast for Web Analytic beginners is coming up, this Tuesday, March 6. So this also seemed like a good time to (finally) write about Phil Kemelor’s almost free ($25) e-book, Intro to Web Analytics. Phil, remember that most PR is good PR. And then when you get to the end of this post, remind yourself again.

I couldn’t get ten pages into the .pdf without strongly disagreeing with some of Phil’s basic premises:

1) I disagree when you write: “For your organization's Web site, there is only one metric that matters: How much money is it making?”

Yes, Phil, you are often right — most websites are ultimately about making money or saving money, directly or indirectly. But more and more, people create websites just to change the world. Look at Wikipedia. Sure, you can argue that they accept donations now and need to measure that. But their donations are ancillary to their real goals. I’ll bet that their website’s most important metric is, “Did we help people today?” or “Did more Wikipedians feel like they are a member of our community?” OK, maybe you don’t like that example. So, how about Mozilla? Sure, they have a few revenue streams too, but I’ll bet that they use them only to stay afloat and pay for their server and executive directory. Like Wikipedia, the vast majority of their “employees” are volunteers, and their goals are not financial. So, Phil, when you write, “The purpose of your web site is to make money or save money,” I just have to disagree.

2) I disagree when you give a list of ten lousy reasons for people to avoid measuring and testing their site.

Yes, you are right — there are no good reasons to avoid measuring your site. At a very basic level — with the server side analytics package provided by your web hosting company — it is simple and free. But testing is different. I created this post on Increasing your Conversion rate for $1524, and the largest cost went to testing. Sure, you can do user testing for an hour or so (one day I user tested a landing page through three airports and two plane rides). You get awesome qualitative data and it helps you locate major problems. On the other hand, there are lots of things people just won’t tell you. Plus, how significant can it be when you are doing user testing with five people?

So when someone says (and now I am quoting from your e-book), ” “It will cost us too much to measure and analyze site use,” they are really saying, “We don’t get enough value from our website to invest a thousand (or ten thousand) dollars in it.” This is exactly how I feel about my company’s brochure. Resources are always constrained, and companies have to invest where they get the highest return. Websites make your business happen. Websites make my business happen. But one size doesn’t fit all.

On the other hand, I read all the way to page 70 without disagreeing again, and by that time, it was just a technicality. So, for twenty-five bucks, pick up a copy of Phil’s ebook and see if I am wrong.

Robbin Steif