In "The Wizard of Oz," Dorothy and her friends went on a long, frustrating odyssey because they didn't know how to use the powerful "tools" they already had. The same is true for many companies that already possess high-performance analytics tools. At some point, employees may become frustrated because the tools aren't providing the desired results. The reality is they may not know how to use the tool, or the data it produces, to get what they want.
Many companies invest in powerful analytics tools, then only use them to scan top-level metrics. They don't use the gathered information to identify problems, test solutions, and improve site performance.
A Good Carpenter Doesn't Blame His Tools
All too often, the analytics tool is blamed for this lack of success. I hear, "If we only had a better tool we could really get that analytics data we need." In some cases, this may be true. Yet many midsize to large organizations have spent money on a tool that does allow them to get the data needed to improve site performance -- they just aren't using it correctly.
As an analytics advisor, I work with many of the more powerful analytics tools to help companies use Web analytics data better. When we start a new engagement, often our clients believe their current tools are failing them. In most cases, the tools they have really are capable of providing the insight they need to optimize site performance.
This is almost always the case if the company is using one of the higher-end solutions, such as WebTrends 7 Enterprise, Omniture, HBX, or Coremetrics. As the adage goes, a good carpenter doesn't blame his tools. Tools should be viewed not as the answer to analytics, but a means to gather and analyze data.
Work With Tools
Currently, no provider offers a tool that automatically improves site performance right out of the box. It's just not possible. Selecting and configuring the tool is only the start. Once that's done, the real analytics work begins. Unless you commit to doing that work, you can't touch the positive return on investment (ROI) these tools can offer.
Tool vendors don't like to admit this, but at least 95 percent of the data provided by all four products mentioned above is extremely similar. Each has unique offerings that differentiate it a bit. Used correctly, together with a process to analyze the data, any of them can lead to tremendous success.
Where Did We Go Wrong?
The analytics tool you have is most likely not the reason you're unsuccessful with analytics. If it is the case, the reason may be:
Sometimes there are reasons to switch tools, especially if you aren't using a top-tier product. Remember, a new analytics tool won't solve those non-tool related issues that usually lie at the root of a lack of success.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
As president of the Americas regions for the digital agency POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. Jason has 20-plus years experience in digital strategy. He is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports our clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works.
Jason speaks frequently about helping marketers take advantage of data to make smarter business decisions and improve the success of their organizations. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.
March 19, 2014