Earlier this month, Forrester released a study (that Google funded) reviewing the merits of free web analytics products and discussing how and were they are used in enterprise. This study, Appraising Your Investment in Enterprise Web Analytics, is available free from Google and is a very interesting read.
With this study as a backdrop, I figured I’d throw in my two cents about the good and bad of various analytics services. Let me start by saying that I definitely subscribe to Avinash Kaushik’s 10/90 Rule. In this “rule” Avinash proposes that you should spend 10% of your analytics dollars on technology (generally software or services) and 90% on people. I will add to that rule by saying that some times that 10% of technology also comes from your development team writing a unique query or randomization script to help test or optimize some piece of the site.
So you can get Google Analytics ( and Yahoo! Web Analytics) for free or you can invest thousands of dollars in services from Ominture, Webtrends, Coremetrics and others. What should you do…
Of course it depends on your situation. If you are a one-man marketing department at a small business, free is probably fine. If you are part of an enterprise analytics team working on a ecommerce site, paid solutions are probably the way to go. Then there is the rest of us in the middle.
My recommendation is to start with free. Get your feet wet, get an understanding of what is possible to measure. Then move on to reading a book, attending a seminar or brining in a consultant to guide you a bit. For some, the process will end there. For others, you may find that the limitation of free solutions are big enough frustrations or time wasters that it is worth the investment into a for-pay commercial solution.
For DigiKnow, we live in the 39% overlap in the chart above. For many of our clients, we use Google Analytics. For a few we use for-pay solution from Omniture or ClickTracks (now Lyris HQ Web Analytics Software [catchy huh]) solely. For others, we use a commercial solution as a primary and free solutions to handle small projects or specific tasks. In the end, most of our clients want to pay for the analysis and insights, and don’t care about the technology used to get us there.