Web Analytics: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

August 22, 2015 Kara Frazier

(This post takes 3 minutes to read)

64 kilobytes of storage.

That was the mind-numbing amount of storage in the latest and greatest computer onboard the Apollo spacecraft that put a man on the moon during the Space Race of the 1960s.

Think about that.

NASA’s best piece of computer equipment had 1,048,576 less times the storage space than the iPhone 6 in your back pocket.

Can your phone land you on the moon?

Even with over one million times more data capacity than that early computer, your phone cannot transport you to the moon and then back to earth’s surface.

More isn’t always better—depending on your goals. This idea was championed by Rudi Shumpert in his recent post on Adobe’s digital marketing blog. And Shumpert’s point is right on target. When it comes to web analytics, the focus should be on Good Data, not Big Data.

Rather than trying to collect every piece of information related to your website, just so you can say “We’ve got it all,” digital marketers should now focus on collecting and analyzing the good information that maps to strategic business objectives.

The Good

Analysts are the gunslingers of the wild, wild web.

Web analysts can reign in data from “big” to “good,” and make sense of it all. They sort the real-time data into good metrics, useful metrics. They organize it into reports and analyze those reports to find insights to improve their online marketing efforts and increase ROI. It’s like panning for gold.

Web analytics can lead to a deeper understanding of your target audience. Tracking and analyzing the behavior of consumer traffic on your website paints a more insightful picture of how to build relationships with your audience.

If you have solid, accurate data to back up your strategies and decisions, then your chances of creating and executing successful marketing campaigns increase exponentially.

Makes sense, right? Wouldn’t it be better to make decisions based on verifiable research rather than assumptions or gut feelings?

We think so, too.

The Bad

It sounds obvious, but getting to that point is hard. Because along with having too much data, companies tend to put too much stock in their digital data without taking a closer look at it. And a closer look is warranted. Here’s why:

  • Tags break and erratic data is collected.
  • Tags get duplicated and data gets inflated.
  • Implementations fail and data goes missing.
  • Departments track metrics differently, making data inconsistent.
  • Websites are updated and tags don’t know know what to do with themselves.

All it takes is one tag, one little pixel, not functioning properly, and if your data governance is lax and you miss the hiccup, you could be throwing off every strategy and business decision driving your company’s goals.

That’s bad.

The Ugly

How does it feel when the bad does happen, and it’s your head on the chopping block?

It’s not pretty.

When you are confronted with reports that don’t quite look right, and you know that something has gone horribly wrong, it opens up a pit in your stomach. Craig Scribner illustrates this particular breed of ugliness in his post: “Website Tags are Bound to Break…”

It’s an awful, ugly feeling when you know it’s going to be another sleepless night, week, or month trying to figure out where everything went wrong, trying to recover unrecoverable data, and trying to fix the problem before it causes any further damage.

But you don’t have to feel that way.

There’s a New Sheriff in Town

Web Analysts try to police the data collection processes, but it’s becoming impossible to manually keep up with the sheer magnitude of the task, which is why more and more data professionals are adopting automated auditing platforms. But whether or not your analytics audits are manual or automated, they still need to be monitored and verified.

Data quality assurance platforms counter the bad and the ugly sides of web analytics. They scan and supervise your analytical implementations to find the bad before things get ugly.

Such audits of your web analytics are crucial to ensure that the good data is used to drive your business intelligence. When you are confident in your data you can have peace of mind knowing that you are making the right business decisions at the right times, and for the right reasons.

Image credit: Jo Christian Oterhals


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