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Web Site Measurement Hacks: Optimize Your Online Business Through Data Analysis

September 28, 2005

Sebastopol, CA--Most companies measure their web activity because they want to know how well their marketing and advertising budget is being spent. It just makes sense. You wouldn't want your doctor to recommend a treatment for you after just glancing at you, or your mechanic to tinker with your car based on his gut feeling. As Eric T. Peterson observes in his new guide for beginning to intermediate analytics users, Web Site Measurement Hacks (O'Reilly, US $24.95), "Our entire world is run using data collected from the environment around us. Why would you think your web site is any different?"

Until recently, many regarded web measurement as a murky subject loaded with confusing and ambiguous terminology, that was often considered the domain of data-loving geeks. But great strides have been made in the field of web measurement in the last few years resulting in applications that are easier to understand and use.

"In 2005, web measurement applications are as important to the Internet business framework as web servers and commerce engines," says Peterson. "Few serious businesses spend money online without having a tool in place to measure the effect of that expenditure, providing data for critical analysis of the question, 'Was that money well spent?'"

Peterson also points out that there are plenty of sources for purely technical information about web data--how to parse logfiles, optimize server performance, and write cool JavaScript. "Unfortunately, it is usually the 'why,' not the 'how,' that leaves businesses hanging," he explains. "Web data collection is a simple practice, as is parsing the data into relatively meaningful buckets. The hard part is the analysis--figuring out what data is important and what it means relative to the business problem at hand."

Web Site Measurement Hacks is designed to help readers learn how to gain insight into how people use their web sites: it offers bits and bytes of information that can be used to better explore, understand, and unearth information about how people interact with sites. "There are scripts and technical tricks," says Peterson, "but the essence of hacking in this context is analysis. This compendium of interesting ideas, built upon a foundation of relevant and important information about how the Web is measured, is designed to turn you into a sophisticated web data analyst (or at least push you in the right direction)."

The book comprises 100 hacks written by some of the best and brightest minds in web measurement today. Among the wide range of topics in the book, there are hacks to show readers how to:

  • Get up to speed on what's needed to build an effective measurement program
  • Implement a measurement solution that will help them learn about visitors while respecting their privacy
  • Quantify the effectiveness of banner ads, email campaigns, paid search, affiliate programs, and RSS feeds
  • Use technographic data to guide design decisions
  • Enhance a retail site's effectiveness by improving the shopping and checkout process and identifying valuable customer segments
  • Above all, Web Site Measurement Hacks will help readers better understand how to get the full value from their investment in web measurement technology and make better marketing decisions. It was written for anyone involved in the process of designing web sites or the marketing and support of products, service, and content through those sites. "We cover all four major business models: retail, advertising, marketing, and customer support," says Peterson. "IT staff will benefit from our hacks on technographics just as much as marketers will benefit from our hacks on marketing measurement, or merchandisers from our entire chapter on retail measurement hacks." The book is a must-read for anyone charged with improving or maintaining a web site.

    Additional Resources:

    Web Site Measurement Hacks
    Eric T. Peterson
    ISBN: 0-596-00988-7, 405 pages, $24.95 US, $34.95 CA
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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