Getting into Analytics in 1 Hour

Marketers employ digital analytics for a multitude of reasons. In essence, they want to know whether the investment made in the web site is worth it and how to make the site perform better. How site performance is gauged depends on a couple of factors: a retail site might be judged by the revenue it generates while a microsite with a Flash game could be optimised for some sort of engagement metric or how often or long visitors use it.

Those web site KPIs have to be collected by the web analytics system in place. That system will process the raw data it collects and then show the marketer some reports or allow them to analyse where the site works and where it does not.

Most systems use the browser to track activity. Javascript on the pages will create a “tracking beacon”, essentially a GET request with various parameters in the URL that’ll return an empty image. That’s why this “beacon” is often called an “image request”. The request will be recorded on a server farm, pulled apart and processed into reports.

The parameters on the image request can be customised and amended. As a very basic, there should be a parameter that identifies the web page. As both marketers and implementers become more knowledgeable, they’ll add more information to those image requests.

You won’t have to touch the image request, though. The web analytics system will provide a JS library that takes care of the low-level programming and gives you access to a high-level object with all the necessary attributes and methods.

From a web developers point of view, that’s about all you need to know. You can trust the marketer to tell you what parameters they want in the URL for a specific page or template, and they’ll also tell you what the values should be for those parameters.

Right?

Right.

Some marketers actually do tell you.

For all other cases, we’ll show you what web analytics does and how it does it. This blog will enable you to translate from “web analyst” to “developer” and it’ll allow you to be efficient where formerly you couldn’t be.

So let’s dive in.

About

German expat living in Switzerland (formerly UK and France). Consultant and member of the Multi-Solutions Group at Adobe, working with the Digital Marketing Suite. Father of 4 girls.

Posted in Principles

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