Are Two Web Analytics Tools Better Than One?

An interesting report published recently by E-consultancy provides useful insight into the state the Web analytics industry here in the U.K.

E-consultancy surveyed approximately 700 people from practitioners, agencies, consultancies, and vendors around themes including the use of analytics within organizations, the amount of investment being made, and the how the data’s being used.

When asked how many Web analytics tools they were using within their business, more than 50 percent of those surveyed said they use two systems or more. Quite often, a company uses a paid tool and adds Google Analytics. Relatively few organizations use Google Analytics exclusively.

This trend presents some interesting questions, such as: Is this a good idea or not? On one hand, one can argue that since an analytics tool is free, then what’s the problem? Maybe Google Analytics does some things better than the system the company already has in place. On the other hand, software like Google Analytics might be free to buy, but it’s not free to implement and maintain because of the time and effort involved. Given that many organizations find it challenging to properly implement and configure one Web analytics tool, does it make sense to try and manage two?

Moreover, two systems will inevitably show different results. So which one do you believe? There’s a saying that a man with two watches can never tell the time. I can understand why an organization wants to try out different tools, but at the end of the day it’s best to stick with one and make sure that it’s giving you what you need.

The report also provides some good news about the adoption of other tools, particularly “voice of the customer” tools. Of those surveyed, more than 60 percent said their organizations look at customer survey data. If this survey had been done a couple of years ago, I think the number would have been much lower.

It’s good to see that businesses are beginning to realize you can’t measure a digital marketing strategy’s effectiveness just by looking at data that comes out of Web analytics tools. You need other data, particularly customer insight data, to fully understand what’s going on.

There are some worrying signs from the report. Organizations admit they’re still often not tying up their data collection strategy to business objectives. Relatively few said they’re definitely getting actionable insights from their Web analytics. Quite a number thought that much of the data wasn’t particularly useful for making decisions.

The clue to the reasons why comes when looking at their Web analytics program resources. Of those surveyed, 45 percent said they didn’t have a dedicated Web analyst. When you look at where the money is being spent, the biggest chunk is usually on the technology rather than the resources to extract the value from the technology. So it’s hardly surprising that organizations are struggling to get insight from their Web analytic programs and make better decisions.

While the report indicates there’s progress being made in the U.K., more vision is required at the right levels of organizations to tie together business and measurement strategies. Lack of coordination, lack of senior level buy-in, budget and resources, rather than problems with the technologies, are reasons often cited as being major barriers to having an effective online measurement strategy. And if there’s a difference between what’s happening on this side of the Atlantic to what’s happening in the United States, it’s probably more to do with those factors than anything else.

For those of you in the U.K and the rest of Europe, it’s worth taking a look at the report and seeing how you benchmark.

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