Announcing a New Free Primer on Web Analytics

kickstartguide2When I was preparing to write my first book, Web Analytics Action Hero, I decided to focus on material that I felt was underemphasized or missing from the existing literature on web analytics. I wanted to help transform the industry’s reporting-centered mindset to one focused on analysis and driving action from digital data. At the time, I didn’t feel the need to re-hash what other web analytics authors had already covered. Essentially, I focused on Web Analytics 201, not Web Analytics 101.

However, since publishing my book, I’ve found there’s still a healthy appetite for basic information on web analytics–not necessarily from analytics practitioners but from the growing number of executives, digital marketers, online merchandisers, journalists, creatives, and other professionals who now rely on digital data in their roles. Even though web analytics has become table stakes for most businesses with any kind of online presence, it’s still a marketing technology that is vastly underutilized, often misused, and frequently misunderstood. I felt it was time to return and take a fresh look at the fundamentals of digital analytics—which have evolved significantly over the years—to help close this persisting knowledge gap.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve finished a new 150+ page ebook, Web Analytics Kick Start Guide: A Primer on the Fundamentals of Digital Analytics, which is now available as a free download from Adobe Press (PDF or ePUB formats). Yes, you read that right – 100% gratis.


While my first book presumed its readers were somewhat familiar with web analytics, I make no such assumption in this new ebook. It actually serves as a prequel or supplement to my Web Analytics Action Hero book. It is intended for individuals who want to gain a better understanding of the technology that supplies most of the online metrics they see in their dashboards, weekly reports, and internal presentations. With most organizations investing more and more in digital, the audience for this 101-level content will continue to expand.

In Web Analytics Kick Start Guide, I start by exploring the evolution of the web analytics industry and then I dive into the business, technical, and process essentials that all aspiring data-driven professionals should know. To prepare you for what’s covered in this new primer, I thought it would be helpful to share a brief overview of the four main sections:

1. The Definition and Evolution of Web Analytics

  • What web analytics is and what it can do for your business
  • The origins of web analytics and how it has matured as a technology over time

2. The Business Essentials of Web Analytics

  • How your online business strategy and goals define what should be measured
  • Definitions and gotchas for commonly-used web metrics
  • Business model-specific KPIs

3. The Technical Essentials of Web Analytics (for the Non-Technical)

  • Data collection overview for page tagging
  • Overview of cookies and reporting architecture
  • Deep dives into key areas such as interaction/event tracking, campaign tracking, mobile/cross-device measurement, data enrichment, and tag management

4. The Process of Digital Measurement

  • The steps involved in an effective digital measurement process (data collection through data usage)
  • Organizational maturity levels for digital measurement

I want to highlight this book is not intended to be a product guide or manual for any particular product. In the technical section, I do map technical concepts to actual product capabilities so readers have a contextual reference to help them grasp the information. While I did this explicitly for Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics, the book’s core concepts should be readily transferable to similar features across most other web analytics tools.

metrics_explained2For analytics practitioners, this primer will be a helpful tool for getting your internal customers or stakeholders to up to speed on the field of web analytics. Obviously it doesn’t focus solely on your unique business model or the details of your particular implementation, but it can lay a useful foundation of knowledge to build upon. Even seasoned digital analysts might learn something new from this book. I know I learned during the process of writing it as I identified and filled gaps in my own knowledge.

I want to thank everyone who contributed to this primer—in particular those who shared their valuable insights and feedback with me. I look forward to hearing from you after you’ve had an opportunity to read this new book too. My expectation is that this primer will help you to better understand this exciting area of analytics and help improve the return you receive from it. Kick start your digital analytics proficiency by downloading my free ebook today!

Posted in Career development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Five Pitfalls that Will Derail Your Data Storytelling

derail2Analysts and marketers are recognizing the importance of telling stories with data. For too long we’ve watched data-intensive presentations fail to connect with internal stakeholders and have little impact on decision making. Data storytelling represents a powerful way of bridging facts with emotion to make your insights more engaging, compelling, and memorable for business audiences. However, as you use more storytelling techniques in your data presentations, it’s important to consider five ways you might be inadvertently undermining your effectiveness as a data storyteller. Continue reading

Posted in Data Storytelling | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How Big Should Your Digital Analytics Team Be?

If you’re an NBA fan, you might know about the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent troubles with injuries (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, etc.). On Feb. 5th, the team actually ran out of eligible players while playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With only 3:32 left in the game, the Lakers’ already depleted eight-man roster shrank to only four eligible players after two additional players were injured and two more fouled out of the game. In case you’re not familiar with NBA basketball, each team needs to have five players on the court and can have up to 12 active players on its roster. Luckily, due to an obscure NBA rule the Lakers were able to keep one of its fouled out players on the floor and close out the game by beating the Cavaliers 119 to 108. Continue reading

Posted in Hiring | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Why Everyone Loses with Google’s Secure Search — Except Google

Back in October 2011, Google first announced it would introduce encrypted search and no longer provide search keywords for users who were logged into their Google account. Originally, Google indicated that the change would only have a single-digit-percent impact on Google’s organic search traffic.

However, since then I’ve watched the percent of organic search keywords that were not provided climb steadily above 60% for all my search terms on For a website owner and data geek, this was a very disappointing trend—especially given the misleading expectation that Google had set. I came to the same conclusion as many other analysts and SEO experts that the keyword data would never return to what it once was—but I felt as though I still had some limited insights into natural search traffic that I could use. Continue reading

Posted in Data Sources | 1 Comment

Web Analytics vs. Mobile Analytics: What’s the Difference?

People are increasingly using mobile devices to interact with organizations through mobile browsers and apps. A recent study indicated that mobile devices now represent 15% of Internet traffic. In December 2012, tablet devices for the first time surpassed desktop PC and notebook sales. By the end of 2013, it’s estimated that nearly two billion apps will be downloaded each week.

If you’re not paying attention to your mobile traffic today, you will be in the not too distant future. If you’re new to mobile analytics or just getting your feet wet, I thought it would be helpful to note some important differences between traditional web analytics and the emerging area of mobile analytics. Continue reading

Posted in Mobile Analytics | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments