The latest Emetrics Summits (June 2004) in Santa Barbara and London included an annual session called the Top Ten Web Analytics Problems.

The attendees gathered into groups to discuss what was troubling them. Not counting common management problems (lack of executive sponsorship, no clear objectives, insufficient resources, internal politics), the following issues were decided on as the most troubling among the 50 or so discussed:

1. So Many Tools, So Little Time

If you want to measure Web site success, you first have to determine measurement methods. You can analyze server logs, tag pages with Javascript, invest in packet sniffing, conduct usability studies, survey your customers for satisfaction, and so forth. But you can't afford to do it all. So which measurement techniques are best? Sorry, this is a list of problems; not solutions.... (For solutions, see note at the end of this article —Ed.)

2. Dependence on It to Get Things Done

Implementing Web analytics tools requires a team of people from marketing, Web services and IT, which is busy doing "real" work (like payroll; it's hard to argue with that one). But once the tools are in place, they require a bit of tweaking to get them well-tuned. Once they are well-tuned, the site itself should be updated in a controlled way to test the value of various modifications. This involves the IT department, which is fine in a firm with highly motivate individuals working in concert toward common goals. I have met several such organizations, but no more than can be counted on two hands.

3. Expectations of Accuracy

As Matthew Berk of Tommy Hilfiger put it, "We will spend many years trying to recover from the myth of accurate Web analytics numbers." Web analytics tools capture data in multiple ways. They cleanse that data in multiple ways. They report out that data in multiple ways. While they are consistent, they are never in agreement. The business side of the house demands precise numbers. You'll have to show them how tracking trends is more important than knowing specifics to three decimal points.

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image of Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne ( is the founder and director of Target Marketing (, founder of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and the founding president and current chairman of the Web Analytics Association.