All the metrics and analytics in the world will amount to nothing if not acted on.
"There needs to be better education in Web marketing in general," says Sterne. "But the vast majority of decisions are made for political reasons. We need to start maneuvering the politics so that Web metrics can have meaning."
Case Study: Hooked on Metrics
Back in the day, Web statistics came from the IT department in the form of jury-rigged server logs that tracked rudimentary and ultimately useless stats such as how many times the site was visited, also known as hits. According to consultant Jim Sterne, "hits" stands for "how idiots track success."
The world of stat reporting has grown more sophisticated since those salad days. Services are available to manage your site reporting, making analysis quite a bit easier.
WebSideStory, the market leader for outsourced Web analytics, employs a bit of technology called HitBox that tracks traffic through a site.
"The great thing about the Web is that there are millions of electronic footprints that are recorded anonymously," says Erik Bratt, director of corporate communications, WebSideStory. "It's a marketer's dream."
In November of 2002, Hooked on Phonics—an educational products company—announced that its online sales more than doubled since it began using HitBox Enterprise (one of the service's four versions) to analyze how the site is used.
"HitBox helps us improve every important metric, including lead capture, order conversion and overall sales," says Mike Manning, vice president of new channels, Hooked on Phonics.
Before converting to HitBox, Hooked on Phonics' Web site generated 20 percent of the company's sales. Now about 40 percent of its sales are online.
The company was able to analyze page-by-page paths customers take through its site, how long their visits last and what content is most popular. With this information, Hooked on Phonics was able to clear traffic bottlenecks and modify frequent abandonment points and thus increase conversions.