I work for one of the most knowledgeable and smartest professionals in the industry that most people don't know about, his name is Craig Danuloff and he's the founder of Commerce 360. The one major thing I've learned from Craig is that without web analytics for websites, what's the point? It doesn't matter what your hunch is, or your theory, if you cannot prove to the client it works - it's worthless. Craig writes a lot about analytics (and other important things) and shares his extensive knowledge with the community quite often.
Without analytics, you are flying blind. How can you measure if a landing page is doing well? How can you know if something you did affected the conversion rate? Which keywords are driving the most traffic? Where is your traffic coming from? If you don't have any form of analytics, on your website, you cannot answer any of these questions.
Even the smallest and newest sites can afford website analytics. How? There are packages from companies that are free to use and rather simple to install. If your webmaster is coding your website, or you are the webmaster, most of these free packages are just a simple snippet of code that should be applied to all the pages of your website. Here's just three (there are a few more out there) packages you can try:
As your site grows, or if you have a much bigger site than a smaller retailer would, you need to move into the higher level analytics. There is an investment involved, however, it will return data to you that will be many times worth the initial investment. Here's just a few (off the top of my head):
- Index Tools
- Click Tracks
- Webside Story
- Coremetrics (enterprise level)
- Omniture (enterprise level)
Some of these packages also have bid management built into their systems, so if you are a retailer with a wide bucket of keywords that are being managed, an all in one package might be for you.
With all the fuss about Google's click fraud rate in recent days, I think it makes the point more than ever why you should be tracking and analyzing all of the traffic coming into to your site. If those articles aren't enough - here's one from the folks at Pepperjam, who had issues with Yahoo! Search Marketing and apparent click fraud.
Because they had analytics in place for their clients, they were able to track down issues with keywords that normally were pretty "quiet", that overnight experienced a tremendous amount of inbound traffic from the Yahoo! content network. Although never admitting to click fraud being the problem - without the analytics to back them up, Pepperjam would have never received the courtesy credit from Yahoo! for their clients.
There are so many reason for having analytics, that I can't really find a reason, NOT to have it on any website. Especially if you can get a small package for free. Some webmasters fear the Google analytics package, since they feel Google could use the data against them. I say, if that's what you are concerned with just use the analytics, don't integrate your Adwords with it, or use a different package all together. The point is, by not having an analytics package applied to your site, your company is the only one loosing out.