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An Argument Against Collecting Website Analytics

It’s an odd title, I know. Why would a marketer and a software engineer make an argument against Google Analytics (or whatever your chosen website analytics platform might be) installed on your website?

After all, website analytics are just one of those things you’re supposed to have, right? You’re supposed to install the tracking code and then every once in a while check in to see how many visits you get, how long people stay on your page, what they looked at, where they live …

Except that it’s not what you’re supposed to do. Not at all. If that’s how you’re using your website analytics, then just stop right now. Seriously. Please. Stop. You’re wasting your time and the precious amount of limited brain cycles available to you each day on an exercise in futility. (You did know you only have so many of those available to you each day, right?) It’s a battle you’ll never win, so I’d much rather see you put your efforts into something more productive for your business.

I have to thank Seth Godin for the inspiration for this post. In his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable, he discusses an interesting yet alarming statistic that nearly 80% of website owners have website analytics installed on their websites, while fewer than 40% actually make decisions or changes based on the data collected by their website analytics platform. This means that the rest simply look at their analytics and either pat themselves on the back, or complain and then do nothing to make it better. Either way, what’s the point?

It’s a complete waste. It’s a waste of your time. It’s a waste of computing power. It’s a waste of storage space. It’s a waste of electricity. Just a waste all the way around.

So am I really telling you not to install Google Analytics on your website? Of course not. What I’m telling you is that you need to start seeing the value of those analytics that goes beyond having a different way to burn 30 minutes each week.

What does this mean? Learn the application. Learn how to create goals and measure conversion rates. Learn how to A/B test landing pages. Learn how to track ad campaigns. See which of your pages perform better than others in search engine rankings. Then do something with the data once you’ve collected it. Make changes that increase your conversion rates and maximize your advertising and marketing dollars.

If you don’t have the time to do that, hire someone who does. I recently had this conversation with a client whose average lifetime customer value is about $10,000. When discussing options for us to work at increasing her conversion rates that would cost between $3000 – $4000 per year, she wasn’t convinced it was a good idea. We looked at the data and of about 15,000 unique website visitors for the year, she was converting about 1% to leads – the primary goal of her website. Beyond that, she was unsure what her lead-to-customer conversion rate was. My response was this: Assuming even a 1% lead-to-customer converstion rate (which should be VERY conservative), if I was able to increase her website conversion rate by 0.5% (to 1.5%), it would more than pay for the yearly cost of the service.

Google Analytics enables this level of detail not only in your reporting, but also in your use of the data provided to make actionable changes that will improve your business and increase your top line revenue. Just remember that it’s not magic; it means putting in the time, effort, and dollars to make your website analytics work for you.


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