an offline member and online payments
are immediate, that represents a solid,
incremental ROI based on the time value
of money. Any CFO will be able to calculate a hard number based upon this
STEP TEST, TEST, TEST
Great care must be taken to establish
Analytics on your site, especially when
setting goals. Analytics cannot reanalyze
historical data the way log analysis programs can. There are no do-overs; you
have to get it right the first time.
It is best to allot some time to test
goal funnels in a development or staging
environment before going live. Doing so
ensures that the testing you do is not
commingled with “live” visitors. If a development environment is not possible, you
should isolate the goal funnel so that no
live visitors can access it. Thoroughly
test options and monitor results closely.
Although Analytics reports in near real
time, that can translate into reporting lag
times of several hours.
STEP BEWARE …
Before you make Google Analytics your
one and only analytics program, remember:
Google has no obligation to maintain the
service. It can modify the program and even
shut it down. Also, the archive is currently
limited to 25 months. After that time,
data may be deleted. Google will likely
continue enhancing the product and may
even offer a fee-based version with guarantees. As of now, however, there are no
warranties, and that creates uncertainty.
If uncertainty doesn’t bother you, inconsistency probably will. For that reason,
don’t try to compare log analysis output
with Analytics output. Values for the same
statistics will vary widely between the two
thanks to their fundamental differences. If
you’ve been providing summary reports to
management, care must therefore be taken
in how — or if — you should make the
changeover. Regardless, you should keep
your existing log analysis system in place.
Probably the greatest issue with Analytics is its breadth. Analytics represents
an immense ocean of information. New
features are added regularly, which can
overwhelm and consume you. Whole days
can be lost in its grip.
These cautions notwithstanding, Google
Analytics provides tremendous benefits to
any association’s Web team. It has quickly
become a serious and indispensable tool
for measuring online success.
Brian Moloney is managing partner of Chicago-based
Imaginary Landscape, a Web development firm specializing in association Web sites. He may be reached
at (773) 275-9144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the conversation at www.theforumeffect.org.
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