I am currently studying Social Media and Web Analytics, and recently I listened to a podcast with Mr. Avinish Kaushik who (for those of you who do not know) is considered a top authority on this subject. The podcast was titled “Web Analytics Simplified” and can be found in the DVD located in Kaushik’s latest book, Web Analytics 2.0. Here are the key points he covered:

First, in the Web Analytics Simplified podcast, Mr. Avinash Kaushik and his interviewer discussed common mistakes people make using web analytics for the first time. Kaushik says that often times people feel that if they have an analytical tool of any kind, then they are good. They go at the blatant, monumental amount of data, becoming “reporting squirrels.” Commonly, the problem is that people need to take a moment to properly define their goals. It is essential to set forth specific goals, such as a goal for the next 30 days.

Next, they talked about whether free services like Google Analytics have done more good than bad in the grand scheme of things. Kaushik begins by noting that the barrier to decision making data goes away as a result of companies as such, but that does not mean the process should end there for people. These free services are great, but people still need to know what they are doing. A service like Google Analytics doesn’t, then, dumb people down but gives them a cause to develop skills and the understanding to know what they are doing with these tools. As a result of free services, pressure is added to the analytical tools market to provide more value added services, and encourages companies (like Google and Yahoo!) to competitively push for innovation. It turns out to be a win, win situation.

They move on to discuss whether or not hacking and the mass creation of plugins is becoming a trend. Kaushik says it’s the direct result of something called a data democracy. No company can ever be as close to the problem as the end user, and so we (the companies) empower users to create. Kaushik predicts that the next set of measurement, analytical systems will come from these empowered users. It is a trend for the future, and a good one at that. Companies cannot guess at everything people are going to want, so exists this open environment where people can create whatever they want. And, honestly, it makes the lives of companies easier.

The interviewer questioned whether web analysts need to have a good statistics background. Do they need a statistics background, marketing background, or just a familiarity with the tools they use? Kaushik, interestingly, started off by saying that he, personally, does not analysts who aren’t marketers to think like marketers. Just to be clear, they should develop a good marketing foundation, but those who don’t have that foundation should not try to make decisions based on what they don’t have a solid grasp on. The best SEO’s are comfortable with numbers because they “get” numbers. He said that most analysts don’t think like web marketers right off the bat, it isn’t in their blood, but it is important. People can’t perform good analyses if they don’t understand consumer behavior. To bring it all together, he preaches that marketing is supremely important. That does not mean that people need to be developing marketing campaigns, but, rather, that it simply needs to be in their head. They need to procure than foundation. One way to do that, he claims, is to have a blog. Learn things that way.

The interviewer asks, “Is it passion that’s important as opposed to academic background?” Kaushik begins by says that he is disappointed by some of these tools that just “puke” out data. He believes that we are going to see web analytics become more intelligent within the next 12 to 18 to 24 months. Aside from passion, which is very, very important, analysts are going to need to have some rudimentary understanding of statistics, to be comfortable with it.

Kaushik says that one positive thing people can do, right now, is to go find the sources of traffic that are sending them the highest number of conversions, meaning those who are providing an outcome they desire. Second, he tells to look at ones bounce rate for your site. Look at the top key words bringing in traffic. Also, to look at the top twenty entry/landing pages in terms of bounce rate, so they can know which pages to work on. One of the things he recommends is a book on Yahoo! web analytics (but is broad in scope) by his friend Dennis Mortensen.

Any thoughts on the matter? Comment below!