The Next Step: The Web Analytics Association

I spoke on two panels at Search Engine Strategies in New York this week. One speech, “Measuring Success Overview,” I’ve been giving for three years, keeping each presentation current. This time, it was completely revised.

My objective was always to get people to realize Web analytics solutions are valuable and to start them measuring. Now, many people understand the value of measurement. The bigger challenge marketers face is determining what to do with all those measurements.

Web Analytics Tools Aren’t Enough

A recent Jupiter Research (a Jupitermedia Corp. division) report notes:

Staffing levels are key to the appropriate use of analytics applications. Assigning at least one dedicated full-time employee (FTE) to analysis and use of analytics applications dramatically increases the sophistication of use of these tools.

Last week, the CEO of a leading e-commerce Web site (and former client) called with an urgent concern. The company was having some conversion issues and wanted our help. We received login access to its first-rate Web analytics software and quickly identified two major issues.

The first was solved with only a minor change. The second was of tragic proportions. Since the time we worked with the company last year, only two people had logged in to the analytics tool. One of was the CEO, just before he called us.

What makes people spend all that time and money on tools they don’t use?

Analyze, Decide, Act

Said Josh James, CEO of Omniture:

Web analytics can pay for itself with a single business improvement. So the real question is, How quickly can companies make data-driven decisions? This willingness to change will ultimately dictate time to ROI [return on investment].

I unconditionally agree. The key is to spend time analyzing your data, make decisions about what you should do, and, most important, act on those decisions.

Founding the Web Analytics Association

Two weeks ago, I teamed with several industry luminaries and vendors to launch the Web Analytics Association (WAA). Long overdue, the association was almost a year and a half in the making.

The idea was first discussed at Jim Sterne’s Emetrics Summit in Santa Barbara, CA, in 2003. Technology Leaders’ Andrew Edwards and I convinced Sterne if such a thing was going to happen, we had to work together and take action. We were joined by HP’s Seth Romanow, NetSetGo Marketing’s Andrea Hadley, WebSideStory’s Rand Schulman, and WebTrends’ Greg Drew. They formed the board of directors. I’d like to publicly thank them for the hard work they’ve put in.

All of this isn’t just for our benefit, but yours as well.

The WAA was established to promote issues critical to us all: education, advocacy, and standards to strengthen and stabilize the growing Web analytics industry. For example, several members worked on the proposed HR 29 spyware legislation. They were able to help get cookie use — vital to collecting analytics data — excluded from language restricting spyware.

Get Involved, Take Action

The WAA isn’t just about Web analytics; it’s about the entire industry and our ability to measure, track, and optimize for customers who every day are more comfortable online and who buy more because of our efforts.

One of our industry’s main challenges is finding enough people who are educated at interpreting Web analytics data. We’ve already begun shaping a Web analytics curriculum that will be made available to universities. A university certificate program is also in the works.

Let’s educate those around us, begin defining standards, and build a consensus we can all benefit from. Don’t just measure your site, take action. Whether you want to be part of the Web analytics community locally or globally, or join a committee and have a more direct effect, you can contribute. Membership in the WAA is open to students and professionals, and membership options are available to consultants and other corporate entities.

Our launch was resounding success. The WAA has been very well received by the media, by analysts, and by end users. Many have already joined and asked to get involved in the various committees. How about you?

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