Let’s Face It: We Don’t Know How To Optimize This Traffic.

Everything related to campaigns and marketing programs are all required to answer the one crucial question: What is the return on investment (ROI)?

What does this mean? It’s all about metrics and analytics. What statistical data can you provide to your team and your bosses to help justify why certain spending is necessary online. In this day of age, I’m surprised if there is any campaign out there that doesn’t have a web component, whether it’s pointing you to the product’s website, a landing page, lead generation into a database, email marketing campaign, online advertising, mobile marketing, or perhaps a social media program. Typically you would assign some form of web traffic monitoring using your company’s web analytic tool to check on the number of unique visitors, sales revenue, search engine referrers, etc.

And there are a lot of web analytic tools out there – including Google Analytics, WebTrends, Omniture, AWStats, and others. But do you really know how to use the tools provided to help gain maximum leverage? Probably not.

Biggest challenges with the use of web analytics in their company according to marketers in North AmericaAccording to a study entitled “The Web Analytics War Reader Survey” & posted on eMarketer.com, you would be surprised as to how analytics is truly understood: it seems that marketers just don’t know how to integrate the data across other programs and campaigns (nearly 46%). The accuracy of reading the data (41%) and getting incomplete data due to software that provided an incomplete picture (32%) was also a concern.

As proven by this study, it seems that people only feel comfortable with having web analytics being used simply to measure the amount of traffic their own website receives. There’s an apparent lack of education when it comes to how you can use your web analytic tool. But let’s not think web analytic is as simple as it is. Fundamentally, web analytics software is meant to measure web activity, no matter what the source – whether it’s website-based, from emails, through online advertising links or other means, there are ways that you can use web analytics across all online marketing efforts.

But this does raise up an interesting concern: why are 32% of those surveyed in this study so unhappy with their web analytic software? Is there some reason why software is not providing them with vital information that would help companies be loyal clients? And on top of that, if those that are unhappy with the limited functionality of their web analytics tools want more results, then how many of those companies feel that their current analytic tool is providing inaccurate data?

Biggest issues relating to verifying the accuracy of web analytics according to marketers in North AmericaIn the “The Web Analytics War Reader Survey”, there’s some additional information that delves deeper into why people feel that their analytics is giving them inaccurate information. The biggest reason why people perhaps feel “betrayed” by their reporting is because they can’t drill any further into the data. I suppose that there is only so much that analytics can do right now but I believe this is not entirely the fault of the software – it would probably require a great deal of customization for each customer and that would make the tool rather expensive.

The graph on the left illustrates several other reasons why analytics may not be trustworthy – including that the traffic may be attributed to other marketing issues, campaign tracking, cross-site analysis, cookies, and many other items of concern.

What this tells me is that there is a great amount of business to be had for those who truly understand web analytics and that this is one of those untold and under-promoted skills to be had. Simply saying that you “get” these tools and have used them before is perhaps the most common statement. But if you had to really stand out, then perhaps addressing all these concerns voiced in this study may be something more advantageous to your career.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."