Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Power of Web Analytics

As everyone knows, a good chunk of MBA programs are teaching students how to collect, analyze and make decisions based on data.  "So sayeth the data!!",  "Show me the numbers".  "Follow the money...connect the dots."  And while companies spend millions on sophisticated systems to track their customers, product inventories, brand awareness, etc., one of the beautiful things about the digital economy is how simple it is to track and analyze data.  And all of this data collection and analysis can be done for extremely low costs (or free).

For example, here are some of the things I'm able to track on this website:
  1. How many people visit the site?  How many times have they visited before (returning vs. newcomers)?  This gives me a sense of whether I'm creating loyalty or interest in the readers.
  2. Which pages are the most popular?  How many times has each page been read?  What type of content is popular.  What types should I try more or less often.
  3. How did people find the site (Search Engine, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook)?  Where are the best places to advertise the site.  How are associations with specific words, searches, people made.
  4. Where are people visiting from?  If I was seeing certain geographic trends, I could alter my content to appeal to different demographics.
  5. How long do they stay on the site?  How many pages / articles do they typically read?  This helps me determine how interesting the content is, and how well linkage between pages is working.
  6. How are they accessing the site (domain; type of device; specific browser)?  This could eventually be used to make sure that add-on functionality is compatible with the most popular access methods.
There are several other things that can be tracked, trended and analyzed, but the important point is how simple this has become.  I can quickly understand my advertising, customer interests, customer loyalty and many other factors.  

So far this blog experiment has provided me with many valuable learnings, as well as some benefits that I never expected.