Continuing my summer reading list, I finally finished “Web Analytics 2.0” by Avinash Kaushik. I think the book suffers a little from being too long, from repeating stuff he already blogged about, and trying to appeal to the widest audience possible. Avinash actually donates the money from book sales to charity, unlike some he has a good day job and gets plenty of speaking and consulting gigs. He is definitely one of the foremost authorities on web analytics, he brings a lot of perspective and manages not to come off as sleazy as some in the SEO and online marketing worlds.
Since most people won’t read a 400+ page book this summer on web analytics, here is the single most important takeaway from the entire book:
Focus deeply and specifically on measuring Outcomes means connecting customer behaviour to the bottom line of the company. The most impactful thing you will do with web analytics is to tie Outcomes to profits and to the bonuses of your report recipients.
A website attempts to deliver just three types of Outcomes:
- Increase revenue.
- Reduce cost.
- Improve customer satisfaction/loyalty.
That’s it. Three simple things.
Avinash brings in a lot of ideas from others and from outside statistics and online marketing into his book. In fact you don’t need to know much about statistics at all to read this book or to analyze web analytics, the tools generally do most of the work for you. Now regular expressions, Google Analytics may have single handedly added “regular expression” to some marketing folks’ vocabulary.
Avinash like me has been looking at web logs and analytics tools for a long time. I never really considered it a career, it was always something I did in my spare time, part of the responsibility of maintaining a webpage whether for work or my personal website. But while I was at CWT I had to improve their analytics and reporting a lot, so many many organizations are not reaping the benefits of all the information free tools can collect about their customers. Avinash like me uses his personal website to learn new techniques and tools, though he seems to have profited from it much more than I.
One of the many clever things Avinash did was encode almost all the links in the book so he could track them. I didn’t get up and check my personal website as much as I did while reading “Don’t Make Me Think” but I did consult Google Analytics several times. Alas that tool changes regularly and Google is now keeping most keyword data, so some of the advice in Avinash’s book is already dated. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this book as much as Steve Krug’s and in my observation most people are too lazy to read books these days, certainly books that might help them do their job better. Everything needs to fit neatly into top ten lists and 140 character witticisms. But if you ever really need to convince your boss to do something, you could do worse than reading this book and following the advice of an expert on demonstrating the value and insight to be found in web analytics.