Is Web Analytics dead? No, it is maturing

It seems like a title like “XYZ is dead”, substitute XYZ for anything, is in fashion. I guess it gets more attention than saying XYZ is maturing or XYZ is changing. Not long ago there was a title like “Page views is Dead”, now there is an article by Nick Sharp of Webtrends “Web Analytics is Dead”.

Nick Sharp wrote:

“It might seem strange to hear those words coming from the mouth of a vendor that’s been selling the benefits of web analytics for more than ten years, but we genuinely believe that web analytics as a standalone discipline is no longer relevant to today’s marketers.
Marketers have turned their focus away from examining the activity on their website to include the results they’re achieving in other areas of online marketing, such as search campaigns, banner ads and e-mail tools. As a result, they’re not just looking for tools that measure their site performance, but also a way of bringing together the solutions they use to measure and track their online marketing in one single system.
This is why we see web analytics evolving into marketing performance management (MPM), which gives marketers a complete picture of their online marketing performance so they can manage and improve on campaigns across their website, online marketing channels and customer marketing programmes.”

I completely agree with Nick. I wrote earlier this year in my 2007 predictions “Web Analytics won’t be standing alone – Marketers will want 360 view of the customers. Integration of various data sources and tools will be expected from web analytics and other supporting tool vendors.” Nick is proving my point right.

The only thing I don’t agree with him is the title of the article. This does not mean Web Analytics is dead. It is actually maturing, it is growing up. Web Analytics responsibilities are becoming more than just measuring how people are behaving on the site. It is becoming responsible for showing the effectiveness of other online marketing efforts. Soon it will have to tie in with the CRM system (some are already doing that). It won’t be just about what visitors did on the site, it has to become predictive. It can only happen when all systems about visitors (and customers) come together. With all the system tied together we will be able to predict things like

  • On an average it takes 3 visits on the site before a visitor comes into the store (brick or mortar or online or through sales partner) and becomes a customer. Since we have a X% increase in visitors with 3 visits we can predict sales to be $Y in coming quarter.
  • A,B,C pages, visits, section, paths etc on the website results in $XX in sales(offline, online, partners, other sales channels) in 4 weeks. Considering we got X number of visitors with A,B,C paths we can forecast $Y in revenue in coming month” etc. We should spend $Z on the banner ad on Google network and $Y on Yahoo network and $Z on Microsoft Network because they will result in X pages views of ABC page and hence maximizing our ROI and bringing in $YYY dollars in revenue (again this could be offline, online or thorough other sales channels).
  • Our customers are divided into 5 distinct segments; they exhibit distinct behavior on the site and have distinct needs and buying behavior. Considering that visitors who match the onsite behavior of segment 1 is growing on our site we need to focus our marketing efforts so that we can grow other segment in a way that benefits us or we can plan our inventory considering the needs of growing segment 1.
  • We know that visitors who come via search and come X times and Y visits to page A tend to respond better to Free Shipping than 10% off, so let’s give them a message which Shows them Free Shipping. We know we can expect Z% conversion. Even though we won’t make money upfront, life time value of these customer is $XXX.

I am sure some companies are already doing this or at least thinking about it. Soon this will become a norm, more will be expected from the Web Analytics.
So is Web Analytics Dead? No, it is maturing.
Comments? What do you think?

One Reply to “Is Web Analytics dead? No, it is maturing”

  1. What I can’t stand is Web Analytics companies changing their product names every 5 minutes to some ghastly marketing cliche. Trying to suck up to marketeers will only get you so far, do it too much and no one will have the faintest idea about what your are going on about!

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