The Ultimate Web Analytics Book

Web Analytics 2.0 book

Web Analytics 2.0

It’s been a while since I have found an IT book that I’ve been able to geek out over, learning tons and enjoying the writing style. Well, over the last week, I did reading Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik. Avinash has a popular blog over at Occam’s Razor where he writes about web analytics. According to his bio, he is an evangelist for Google and co-founder of the Internet marketing company Market Motive. He writes, speaks, trains, and consults on web analytics. I like his blog posts so much that I recommend them to my students in my class Web Application Development for Business. After observing the quality of content on the blog, the decision to big deeper with his book was an easy one.

So last week, I bought the book to read on a business trip to Tampa and thoroughly enjoyed it. And even though the book is 4 years old (ancient in web years) it is still incredibly relevant today.

The Good

Why do I love this book so much?

Because he condenses all of the best practices, techniques, critical questions to ask, and step-by-step guides to becoming in his words “a web analytics ninja”. In that, he delivers. In fact, he blew me away. So much so, that I recommend every single Internet marketing professional read it at least twice.  Why twice? There is simply too much to take in on the first reading. He also has an insatiable focus on practical results tied to critical business objectives. Over and over again, he reiterates the importance of finding actionable insights. To that end, he recommends using metrics that have meaning, looking at only a few critical metrics, and avoiding inactionable metrics like ratios, percentages, and compound metrics. Hits, visitors, and likes simply won’t get you to success, at least not by themselves. As my friend Jeff Steinmann is fond of saying “You can’t pay the mortgage with Facebook likes.” More succinctly, Avinash rightly focuses on reason and objectivity. After all, reason is the basis for success.

So what’s in there?

You can find sub-topics such as “Everyday Clickstream Analyses Made Actionable,” “Five Examples of Actionable Outcome KPIs,” and “Lab Usability Studies: What, Why, and How Much?” You can also find the nine tips on creating and nurturing a testing culture, five rules for high impact dashboards, two prerequisites for behavior targeting, and ten questions to ask yourself before selecting an analytic software vendor. In fact he covers every major Internet marketing technique for measuring success. And in each chapter offers practical guides to getting there.

Here is a list of the chapters. I won’t give away all the goodies in each the chapters, but I do promise there is something useful in each of them.

  • Chapter 1: The Bold New World of Web Analytics 2.0
  • Chapter 2: The Optimal Strategy for Choosing Your Web Analytics Soul Mate
  • Chapter 3: The Awesome World of Clickstream Analysis: Metrics
  • Chapter 4: The Awesome World of Clickstream Analysis: Practical Solutions
  • Chapter 5: The Key to Glory: Measuring Success
  • Chapter 6: Solving the “Why” Puzzle: Leveraging Qualitative Data
  • Chapter 7: Failing Faster: Unleashing the Power of Testing and Experimenting
  • Chapter 8: Competitive Intelligence Analysis
  • Chapter 9: Emerging Analytics: Social, Mobile, and Video
  • Chapter 10: Optimal Solutions for Hidden Web Analytics Traps
  • Chapter 11: Guiding Principles for Becoming an Analysis Ninja
  • Chapter 12: Advanced Principles for Becoming an Analysis Ninja
  • Chapter 13: The Web Analytics Career
  • Chapter 14: HiPPos, Ninjas, and the Masses: Creating a Data-Driven Culture


The Bad

I was hard pressed to come up with things that were not done well. Perhaps the biggest was the organization of the book. His choice to start with web metric vendors seemed misplaced that early in the book. It would have been stronger by starting with business goals and objectives.

And not so much a criticism as a warning, the book is written for current web analysts and/or their supervisors. It is not for the beginner. If you don’t have access or the freedom to look at web data, then the entire time you read this book, you’ll wish you had. I do own a couple of small sites (including this one) but the amount of traffic they acquire is not deep enough to apply many of the lessons in the book. Nor do I have the time to create meaningful metrics them for them either. I would have loved to apply the ideas on a bigger site or at least to see how bigger sites currently use metrics so I could mentally think through applications. Alas, that must wait for a later day.

Get it now

Kaushik’s book can be found on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version. You can also find it through other retailers like Barnes and Noble (although their Nook version is much more expensive).

After you read it, send me a note on what you think.

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