Many organisations are wasting money on web analytics deployments because they are ill-equipped to make the most out of data, according to new research.

The global survey (pdf) of attitudes among analytics providers and end-users, billed as the largest so far, found that analytics was still misunderstood by the vast majority of firms.

Web measurement guru Eric T. Peterson and the Web Analytics Association (WAA), who released the research, said it highlighted a need for well-defined processes behind measurement projects.

Peterson said:

“Only 8% of companies worldwide are taking a process-oriented approach towards web analytics, but, in my experience, process is the key to both success and achieving positive and recurring return on investment from web analytics technology and staff.”

Over 1,000 analytics practicioners, consultants and end-users worldwide took part in the survey, conducted in April.

Among its findings were….

  • 82% of respondents said analytics was poorly understood in their organisations and that most people interacting with web data did not understand what it meant.
  • Over half (56%) said web analytics was difficult, despite the majority of respondents having at least two years of experience with these technologies and 23% having more than five years of experience.
  • 50% of respondents said they had considered looking for a new job in the last six months – speaking volumes about employee satisfaction within organisations, as well as the overall stability of measurement projects.
  • But 65% said their organisations were using analytics to make tactical or strategic decisions.

Peterson also recommended organisations take several steps to make better use of their data. To summarise:

Recognise that analytics is not easy - invest in education for analytics end-users and data consumers, as well as investing in learning and implementing the core processes behind analytics.

2.Recognise that most people inside organisations probably don’t understand web analytics data when it is presented to them. Simplify reports that are distributed to staff, de-emphasise ‘reports’ and invest in the process of generating ‘analysis’ for key stakeholders.

3.Re-evaluate the depth at which analytics is used and work to understand what ‘strategic use of web analytics’ means. Re-assess the use of analytics and aggressively look for strategic opportunities wherever possible.

4.Invest in dedicated resources to manage web analytics systems and produce high-quality analysis.

5.Provide web analytics professionals with high-value work and high-visibility opportunities. Few experienced web analytics professionals wake up in the morning looking forward to ‘generating reports’; bright, well qualified people want to ask and answer really hard questions and produce analysis that can positively impact the entire online business.

The report added:

“The web analytics industry is at a turning point in 2007. Vendors are consolidating, vendor offerings are expanding, and the external support network for companies working to leverage web analytics is positively exploding. Companies serious about web analytics are encouraged to re-examine their current investment in this light and respond appropriately.”

Also see our

Buyer’s Guide

for more info on how to make the most out of analytics deployments.