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3 Top Trends in Web Analytics: Expert Interview Series

One thing is certain about Internet Marketing. We will all be paying more attention to the numbers, and that spells Web Metrics and Analytics.

Eric Peterson is one of the foremost leaders in this all-important aspect of Internet Marketing. During my interview with him, he identified 3 specific trends you and I can expect in the foreseeable future.

Here now are highlights of my interview with Web Analytics Guru Eric Peterson.

1. Time Spent on Web Page is Becoming More Important
for Measurement

"Nielsen and comScore both are shifting away from page views and toward duration," he said. "Duration as a measurement (of time spent on a given Web page) was always there, along with segmentation. Page view is a blunt tool. Duration also is a blunt tool, but when used in tandem with page view, it tells more of the picture."

Shortly after our interview, Eric and research partner Joseph Carrabis of NextStage Group published a white paper on how to measure visitor engagement. (See download link in the resource box at end.)

"We worked on coming up with a direct measure of visitor engagement that includes page views, duration, recency, loyalty and specific actions," he said. "It's a moderately complicated metric that attempts to measure the whole experience of visitors coming to your Website, reading your newsletters, engaging with your content and your brand."

2. Mobile Measurement Will Become More Precise

"With new vendors that have come on [the scene] in the last few years, we can do a better job of measuring and marketing in the mobile environment," he said. "It's almost like the Web Analytics industry is springing up again.

"My belief is that mobile is so important to the customer relationship that eventually these applications will be rolled into standard Web Analytics packages. It's the same customers; just where they come to you, whether on a phone or at the desktop, is different. You need to treat them as such."

Cross-platform integration, or multi-channel integration, could remain a challenge for a while, he said.

"[Integrating the measurements from different platforms] is hard to do. You end up with disparate types of data."

More often than not, customers don't have common user IDs that travel with them from one platform to another.

"There are some scenarios where this can work, however. In financial services, where every session begins with an account number [or personal ID], then you can start to do multi-channel measurement, since I am the same person regardless of channel.

"Frequent-flyer and other loyalty or reward programs have the same kind of potential; it depends on how loyal customers are and how likely they will provide data."

3. Web Analytics Job Market Stays Resilient in Tough Times

Demand for Web Analysts with even a few years of experience is expected to remain steady, Eric said.

Five years ago, "you would see people applying these technologies under the premise that insights would just magically appear. That turned out to be wrong. I see a growing awareness that [the field of Web Analytics needs] a combination of people and technology. How these experts use the technology is just as important as the numbers the programs generate," he said.

Eric maintains a job board at his Website (see resource box at end) and researches hiring stats to map trends. Although the U.S. economy was in recession at the time of our interview, Eric said he was still fielding calls from recruiters, HR people and marketing chiefs, saying their recruitment ads for Web Analytics people were getting no takers.

"Recruiters tell me, 'Nobody's calling us.' The problem is, they are looking for someone with five years of experience to live in New York City on $65,000 a year. It's not uncommon now for someone with three to five years of experience to be hired as a director of Web Analytics at $125,000 a year with bonuses based on successful attainment of goals."

So, where do you find the people with the right skill sets?

"The best ones are coming from diverse backgrounds. They might have a marketing background, with a keen interest in looking at the data in many different ways and creating data-driven marketing. Or, they're coming from programming and want to see how JavaScript affects business decisions.

"The essential thing is that you need someone who is analytically minded and curious, who will define and follow a process and will keep digging for answers, even beyond the first set of numbers," he said.


Eric Peterson, founder and CEO of Web Analytics Demystified, Inc., is a consultant, author, speaker and blogger.

Visit his Published Research page to download his report, "Measuring the Immeasurable - Visitor Engagement."

View Eric's Web Analytics Jobs page.