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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Big Idea :: Web Stats, Cause or Effect?

It’s astounding to me that anyone would create a business website without an integrated web statistics package. What’s more astounding is how often the data gathered is misinterpreted.

The only way to make informed decisions about how to optimize your website to fulfill its business objective is to have hard data.

Websites, by their very nature, are often an important step in the buying process. It’s critical to get your prospective customers to the information they are looking for quickly and easily if they are going to remain prospectives and eventually evolve into customers.

Implementation of website statistics packages is often the easiest part of the process. Asking the right questions, correctly interpreting the answers from the data, and finally making the informed decisions are where the real value lies.

As with any interpretation of data to draw objective conclusions, there can be mistakes. The most common interpretation mistake is that precise data is not necessarily accurate data.


Website statistics data is precise (down to the individual visitor) but it is not necessarily accurate (or closely representing what is really going on). The trick is to understand that you are looking at averages of what all visitors are doing and extrapolating the individual user experience.

For example, if there is a tendency to exit the website on a specific page you should not necessarily re-work that page, but look at the pages that link to the one in question. Do they misrepresent what is contained there? Your problem could be with the cause, not the effect.


Ultimately, implementation of website statistics is critical to understanding your online audience but beware, these statistics represent the effect, not the cause. If you're looking for an objective interpretation of the data, consider outsourcing it to an experienced marketing firm, like Justin Downey Marketing (a shameless JDM plug, I grant you).

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