Web analytics ASPs (define) can save you the hassle of maintaining software, servers, and log files. But someone must still “own” the tool and manage collected data to ensure it’s accurate and actionable.
The following are a few hazards your ASP owner can mitigate to ensure you get clean, reliable data to make important decisions that affect site performance and, ultimately, the bottom line.
Site Pages Without Tags
When rolling out a new analytics tool, you must identify and tag all site pages. Frequently, pages hosted by third-party partners are forgotten. Untagged pages can significantly affect paths, entries, exits, and conversion data.
Remember to tag pages that have been updated or added to the site as well. Too frequently, these aren’t tagged. Over time, this leads to many data holes, causing significant problems. Make tagging part of the internal process whenever you roll out new pages. Continually test and verify page tagging on a regular basis.
Tags Passing Incorrect Data
Just placing the base tag on all site pages doesn’t mean you’ll have the data you need. Many ASP solutions allow you to customize tags. This requires more thought on your part. You must create the custom tag so it delivers data that can truly help you evaluate site performance and identify opportunities. This might include segment data, commerce metrics, and the like.
Multiple Pages Tagged the Same Way
As new pages are rolled out to the site, a tag is often copied from another page and pasted onto the new one. Sometimes, this works. Depending on how the tag is customized, it can lead to problems. A few months ago, we worked with a new client who had six pages with the same page name variable. So, the analytics tool saw each as the same page. These pages data were listed as one page’s data, with a really high page-views-to-visit ratio. There was no way to understand an individual page’s performance using the tag. Unfortunately, we lost all visibility into individual page performance until the tag was fixed. This client went about six months without reliable data for these key pages.
Incorrect Tool Configuration
Depending on the tool used, additional configuration may be needed to maximize insight availability. Make sure the tool is configured in a fashion that will give people the data they need. WebTrends allows users to configure custom reports to maximize tag data, for example.
If you’ve read any of my previous columns, you know actually using data to make decisions is a hot button for me. Though this isn’t specific to ASP solutions (it’s an issue no matter what type of analytics solution you use), it’s important enough to include in the list. To maximize Web analytics value, you must analyze the data, identify opportunities, prioritize those opportunities by comparing the monetized results of potential changes, and ultimately act on the data.
An ASP solution can greatly reduce time spent managing servers, software, and log files. But you still need a dedicated resource to help manage your Web analytics processes and data.
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