My keen powers of observation, usually comprised of skimming a few well-known bloggers, found a new debate about the value of firms’ web analytics investments. This struck me as odd, because if there’s any no-brainer in this new world of marketing, it’s the value of web analytics. Here’s how the argument goes: Omniture released a new survey that said 55% of respondents couldn’t measure ROI.1 Furthermore, it stated that 80% believe that marketing ROI is important to measure, but only 31% of marketers can effectively measure it. I quipped, “What’s up with this?”
It’s the Symptom – Not the Problem
Do you remember in business school when you were presented a case study and there were always detours called “symptoms” which really weren’t the underlying issues but instead pointed you to the real problem? That’s what we have here. This inability to measure ROI for online channels is a function of the lack of skilled web analytics resources and not an inherent problem with web analytics.
David Raab, a heavyweight in marketing analytics, had a similar conclusion in his blog, but said the issue is the lack of internal training.2 He says “My position is arguably strengthened by the relatively low ranking of 'support/training' (47.3%) and 'finding insights' (41.5%) which both suggest doubts that Web analytics can deliver real value.” He concludes that marketers won’t invest in analytics until they’re sure the investment in training will pay off and it’s the best use of their scarce resources.
The Real Problem – Lack of Talent
While I believe David is on the right track (i.e. that it’s not a problem with web analytics per se), I tend to concur with Forrester when John Lovett in the US Web Analytics Forecast, 2008 to 2014 said that one of the major barriers to the effectiveness of web analytics is the “action chasm.”3 In short, he said that 36% of web site decision-makers agreed that in-house web analytics expertise is more valuable than the technology itself. His conclusion: “The human resources required for analyzing data and converting information into necessary business actions is severely lacking.”
The Prescription – Professional Services
Training may help if you have the right people to train. My contention, however, is that when you have such a severe shortage of qualified labor, there’s a void in the market and it’s being filled by outside professional services firms. There are many consultants and agencies that are providing web analytics services to a needy market. These are usually small firms which have very good expertise. My prescription is that there’s no excuse for the lack of measurement of ROI and multichannel marketing programs. Talent is out there.
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