As Jim Sterne completed the second and last leg of his European tour I attended eMetrics Dusseldorf last week. My German is a tad limited to say the least, so my colleague Timo took the lead on the vendor panel and managed the Google Analytics booth with Rene. Despite my lack of local language, two excellent presentations caught my eye:
- Rapheal Nolens from Pioneer Europe
- Mathias Blum from Lycos Europe
Of course I am slightly bias here as both of these included analysis work conducted using Google Analytics. However Rapheal made an excellent analogy which has stuck with me:
Conducting web analytics is like riding a bicycle. The tool you use in the bicycle, but in order to get anywhere you still need to pedal i.e. do some analysis.
That is very much where the web analytics industry is today – great tools, some with bigger bells and whistles than others, but essentially very similar tools attempting to do very similar things. That is, to help you understand the visitor traffic of your web site.
But what’s next for web analytics vendors?
Some vendors are specialising on data warehouse solutions – bringing all you business metrics (offline and online) into one platform. Others are focusing development on tracking the challenges of Web 2.0 – such as social media, blogging and visitor engagement metrics. Bid management, real time visitor survey tools, integrating off-site metrics e.g. search engine rankings, server uptime, download speed etc. are cool features that I have seen.
These are all great developments, but for me the biggest opportunity for the web analytics industry is not an arms race of new features, but simplification. By this, I don’t just mean making a more easy to use menu navigation system, though of course that is also important. What I refer to is two fold:
- Simplify the setup process:
Make it suitable for the average web developer/webmaster to implement. In that way, web analytics will become apart of the design process – rather than an afterthought as it is now.
- Simplify the user/analyst experience:
Make gaining an understanding of visitor behaviour more accessible. The buzz words on this are accessibility and discoverability. At-a-glance reports that are structured in an intuitive manner so that you can quickly drill into the audience segment you want and ascertain “is this data good or bad for my business” i.e. what action should be taken?
Is this simply KPI reporting? No I think not. KPIs are a double distil of information from your web analytics package. Although great for messaging an easy to digest story to senior management, KPIs leave out so much they are not suitable for the strategist. But viewing all the data all of the time is overwhelming, so an intermediate level is what I propose.
What do you think? Are you looking for features that are not yet available in your vendor’s tool or is there something else? Please share your thoughts via comments.