Web Reporting or Web Analytics?

    May 4, 2007

I run into lot of people who confuse web reporting with web analytics.

Here is what I heard from one marketing manager when I asked her if she had a web analyst on staff – "Yes we hired somebody, she knows XYZ web analytics tool so I am all set, she will be pulling the data for us."

What does this mean? Does knowing a tool and knowing how to pull data from that tool, web analytics? Send somebody to Omniture or WebTrends training and you can have a web analyst if that’s your definition of a web analyst. Well that certainly was her definition and a lot of others that I have come across, I am sure there are lots of companies out there that have the same definition of a web analyst.

In my opinion that is web reporting not web analytics. A person who only knows how a web analytics tool works and knows how to pull the data is doing web reporting not web analytics. Web Analytics however is different from web reporting and tools knowledge.

While web reporting deals with “What Happened”, “When it Happened”, web analytics deals with “Why it Happened”, “What if it continues to Happen”, “Recommendation on what you should continue to do or change”. Web Analytics is way more than just reporting numbers.

Note: Web analysts will soon have to get into predictive modeling to determine “what can happen in future”. Not a lot (read very few) companies are currently doing predictive analysis but it is coming soon.

Web reporting is one portion of web analyst’s job role. A successful web analyst spends more time focusing on Web Analytics (Analysis) and less on pulling the data from web analytics tools. Web Analyst has to understand the business, the business and site goals and business initiatives to provide meaningful and actionable analysis. Web analytics requires analytical mindset which makes web analytics much harder to learn than web reporting. (To read about what skills a Web Analysts needs, read my article on Starting a career in Web Analytics)

Web Reporting is like looking into a rearview mirror while Web Analysis (job of a web analyst) is about knowing where you are coming from, knowing your destination, looking into rearview mirror, learning from it, focusing on the road ahead and surroundings so that you can get to your destination safely and successfully.

So are you doing web reporting or web analytics?