Web Analytics v/s Digital Analytics – What’s the difference?

Web Analytics and Digital Analytics are quite often used interchangeably.  I have been asked, by my students and some clients, about the difference in these two, so I decided to write this short post to clarify the terms.

As you can see from the Google Trends graph, Google searches for “Digital Analytics” were nonexistent till Web Analytics Association changed its name to Digital Analytics Association. Since then the term “Digital Analytics” has started to pick up.

In early days of internet, companies started to analyze website data such as users, visitors, visits, page views etc. and the term used to describe this analysis was called “ Web Analytics”.

Then came other forms of online (digital channels) such as email, search, social, mobile etc. and increasingly Digital Analytics folks were including this data and analysis of all these channels to provide a complete view of the “Digital” channels, marketing and customers. To fully include the scope of work of “Web Analysts” a new term “Digital Analytics” was coined.

“Web Analytics” companies like WebTrends, Omniture (now Adobe), Google Analytics etc. also started including data from other online channels and transformed from Web Analytics tools to Digital Analytics tools.

When I was on the board of “Web Analytics Association” from 2009 – 2011, we had several discussions regarding the name of the association. The general consensus was that our members were doing much more than traditional “Web Analytics” and association needs to change the name and scope to include the changing role of “Web Analytics”. Association finally changed the name to “Digital Analytics Association” on March 5th, 2012.

So back to the original question – What is the difference between Web Analytics and Digital Analytics?

Web Analytics is analysis of the website data.

Digital Analytics includes analysis of data from all digital channels that includes websites. Data from search, display advertising, social, email, mobile etc. is included to provide a complete view of the digital marketing and customers.

Though usage of Digital Analytics is picking up, “Web Analytics” is still searched more often than “Digital Analytics” as shown in the following Google Trends chart

Thoughts? Comments?

Do you know how Web Analytics works?

main-image-optizent2Do you understand the mechanism of Web Analytics? Do you understand how data is collected and translated into the nice reports that you see in Google Analytics, WebTrends, Adobe etc.? Now you can.

Signup for my online course – “Web Analytics Under the Hood”.

This Online course will go under the hood and show you how the data gets generated, collected and processed to generate beautiful reports that you
see in your Web Analytics tools.

Having a good understanding of what happens behind the scene will provide you the confidence you need to support your understanding of the reports and provide a fresh new perspective on Web Analytics reports.

This course will be helpful for both newcomers as well as seasoned professionals. I will cover topics that I ask in interviews while hiring a web analyst. This course will help you:
Understand how browser/server communication happens.
Understand how data gets passed to server.
Understand how data is collected ( Javascript, server logs) – Basics of Data Collection Javascript using Google Analytics as example.
Understand how cookies are used (we will look at Google Analytics cookies)
Understand how data is stored in the back-end.
Understand how data is processed.
Understand how data gets Converted into Visits, Visitors, Page Views, Referrer and various other reports.
Signup below to be notified when the course becomes available in Mid-July. You can also pre-order this course for $50 (instead of $100). You will get a link for payment after you signup.

Signup to be notified of the availability of this course

Read more: Web Analytics Under the Hood – Digital Marketing and Analytics by Anil Batra http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2016/06/web-analytics-under-hood.html#ixzz4BoAa92z7

One Tip for Enhancing Anonymous Visitor Data

Let’s face it, Web Analytics data is pretty limited when it comes to visitor analysis.  Many of you might have some data on users who have registered or purchased from you and some of you might be connecting the onsite activity of visitors with the other data you have in your database. However, considering that you have less than 10% conversion rate (or registration rate) there are over 90% of the visitors on your site that you have no information on.

Image Source: imnmarketer.com

This is where 3rd party data provides come to your rescue. These data providers can provide a lot of valuable missing data and bridge the gap. Companies like BlueKai and iBehavior can augment anonymous cookie pool or known customer base with additional attributes that you don’t have.

For example, say you have a segment called “Engaged Users” that is all based on anonymous cookies visiting your site and taking certain actions e.g. downloading a whitepaper.   Since it is all cookie based, all you have is their referring information, onsite behavior and browser/OS but you don’t know the mix of gender, income level, kids/no kids, interests etc. within this segment.  Imagine if you had these other attributes about your anonymous visitors then how rich will your analysis and recommendations be.  If you can see the value in richer analysis then it is time for you to start thinking beyond the data you collect.


Also, see 3 Techniques for Expanding your Email Reach

Analytics Jobs

Books that I am reading or have read recently

  1. You Should Test That: Conversion Optimization for More Leads, Sales and Profit or The Art and Science of Optimized Marketing
  2. Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die
  3. Data Points: Visualization That Means Something

Move Web Analytics Data Out Of Silo

Web Analytics tools are great for providing a good view of one channel i.e. your website (ok, maybe slightly more than one channel e.g. some email, some social media, some offline). They worked great in silo for first few years of the internet because the only way for customers to interact with your brand online was on your site and websites were not an integral part of the business. Nowadays the story is different, customers interact with your brand in so many way, your website is just one small part of the whole “web” ecosystem and “web” is just one part of the whole “customer” experience and buying cycle ecosystem. Customer’s don’t think and operate in one channel i.e. your website. However, many “web analytics” tools do not even provide you full view of a customer journey and interactions online let alone the offline journey.

To understand today’s customer and performance of your marketing efforts, web analytics data has to move out of it’s silo and needs to be integrated with other data sources.

Many of you might be already be using 3rd party solutions to pull data from few sources into a dash boarding tool. That is a great start but it still does not provide you a complete view of customer journeys. For example, just because you have social media mentions on the same dashboard as your on-site analytics data does not tell you if those mentions are from your customers or somebody, who is neither a customer nor is your target customer, just blabbering in social media. But I will give you credit for thinking outside the Web Analytics tool.

To understand complete customer journey (i.e. 360 degree view of customer) and to conduct analysis that take you from marginal improvements in conversions to something that has a huge impact on the business you need much more detailed data than a web analytics report or a dash boarding tool can provide. First, you need to collect individual data for each customer in various channels then warehouse the data in one place where you join various sources via common key such as customer id, email address, phone number etc. Only then you can create and run complex cross channel queries to understand customer behavior and campaign performance.

Many mature organization are already doing it or are working on it. If you are not then it is about time to start thinking about if you want to stay competitive.

Don’t think that just because you are using Google Analytics you can’t have this level of data because you can. You just have to push yourself and start thinking outside what your web analytics tool can provide.

How Can You Do it

Web Analytics tools already anticipated this needs so they have built a way for you to get the data out easily. You can use either of the two methods listed below to get the required data

  1. APIs – Many tools like Google Analytics provide data via APIs. Use those APIs to pull appropriate data into your datamart/datawarehouse.
  2. Data Feeds – Many tools provide data in a flat file that you can use to populate your datamart.

Here are few things to keep in mind before you start putting this data in your datamart

  1. Make sure your tools are configured properly to collect the data in the right format and
  2. Your data transformation process should be able to understand the difference between various custom variables that you have used in the data collection
  3. Various data sources also need proper identifiers (keys) to match them together.

This is not going to be an easy project but this is a critical step in using your web analytics data to stay competitive.

There are few 3rd companies who are already providing tools and service to help you with it. You should also check out Gary Angel’s Blog. Gary has worked and written extensively on this topic.
If you have any question, I will be happy to chat. Email me.



Web Analytics Jobs



Bounce Rate Optimization Is Not Always The Cure: Analyzing and Optimizing Campaigns

This is part II of the series on Analyzing and Optimizing Campaigns. I wrote in my previous post that when analyzing campaigns many web analysts just focus on the web analytics data. Some venture to include the cost and impression data of the campaign but they still don’t have a complete view.

In this post I will show you how their lack of complete view results in wrong analysis and wrong conclusions.

Below is the data I used in my last post. This is the type of data most Web Analytics tools provide and hence “Web Analysts” tend to use.

What is missing?

Where is the cost of products and profit margin data? Without that information, you don’t know if this campaign is successful or not. Right?

The sad reality is that many web analysts don’t have access to profit margin data and hence they look at what is available to them and start recommending A/B testing (see my post One Awesome Web Analytics Tip: Think Beyond Web Analytics). And their first target generally is Bounce Rate. Oh… look bounce rate is 50% it is too high, we need to reduce it. Right?

Wait…There is More…

Let’s assume that you are able to get hold of additional data. Now let’s see how the campaign looks if we add that data. Below I have added cost of Goods Sold data (keep in mind there are additional costs in real life).

It is evident now that the campaign is bleeding money. If your business goal is to increase conversions at any cost then you might be ok but if you goal is to increase conversions without losing money then this campaign sucks.

Ok, so what should we do now? If your answer is still bounce rate then you are wrong. Look at the data below, even with a bounce rate of 0% you will never make this a profitable campaign.

So next time get all the data before you jump to the conclusion that all you need to do is reduce “Bounce Rate”. Bounce Rate Optimization looks tempting to tackle but it is not always the cure.

Stay tuned, more coming soon on this subject.

Follow Me on Twitter: @anilbatra
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAnilBatra


Web Analytics Jobs

Analyzing and Optimizing Ad Campaigns – Part 1

I am going to start this series of post with few questions for you.  Here is some data pulled from a Web Analytics tool. This data is for a “Display Ad” campaign:
Most of the web analysts today get the following view of display advertising from their Web Analytics tool.  Looking at this data and some publicly available information they will get started on the analysis and recommendation.
Though some other analysts will say, Wait… I need more information.  Google Adwords has done such a great job in providing cost data and almost all of the analysts have dealt with some kind of paid search campaign, so they know that cost of campaign plays a role in the analysis of campaign.  So they demand it.  Well this is where most of the web analytics tools fell short, cost data generally resides in some other tool and it is not easy to get that data. But how said that Analytics was easy.   However, I am providing full data with cost so that we can continue with this post. Keep in mind that many analysts will continue without cost data. If you are one of them then stop and look for the campaign cost data.

Now the above view sort of mirrors what you are used to seeing in Google Adwords. 
So what do you think? Can we analyze this data and take some actions? This is what many web analysts end up doing.  Some will be brave enough to venture into segmenting by repeat v/s new visitors, mobile v/s non-mobile etc. If you are doing some kind of segmentation then you are already moving in the right direction.  However there is more….  I will write about that in my next part.  Meanwhile, let me hear from you.  What do you think?  Where should we focus? Is everything looking good? If not then, what is wrong with this campaign? What is your recommendation?
Part II coming soon.

Web Analytics Jobs

One Awesome Web Analytics Tip: Think Beyond Web Analytics

I am sure you have heard of a story about a guy lost his ring in a dark alley. It was really dark and he could not see anything, so he went to a nearby lamppost and started searching for his ring underneath it. When asked why he was looking for ring under the lamppost, he said “because it is bright here”.

That’s what most of the web analyst do. Even when the problem might exist somewhere other than what their web analytics data can show majority of the web analytics folks just look at “Web Data” for the answers. Why? Because that’s all the data they have easy access too. It is brighter there.

Here are some other things which are in the “dark” areas. It is time for you to shine light on them:

  1. Ad Server – There are several factors that impact a performance of a campaign, many of them don’t show up in your web analytics tools, they reside within ad servers or with 3rd parties. Example: Which pages the ads was shown, what time was the ad shown etc. I will write more on this in a future post.
  2. Conversions – Conversions can happen offline in-stores or via phone. Most of the time these won’t show up in your web analytics tool. I wrote about this in my post Are you Optimizing the Wrong Steps of the Conversion Process?
  3. Social Media Conversations – Conversations about your brand, products, offers happen outside your domain and impact how people react to your campaigns, engage with your site and ultimately impact the conversions and bottom line. Many companies have started to collect the conversation data but they might sit within a different system owned by a different department.
  4. Mobile – Mobile usage is growing every day. More users spend their time on Mobile. If you don’t have an integrated view of the mobile data with other data sources then you will end up barking the wrong tree.
  5. Third Parties– Some companies do not sell any products on their site. Their sites are mainly there to provide information. They sell their products via 3rd parties. However these 3rd party sites also provide information on products, provide reviews, have user communities etc. You don’t need to visit the official company site to make a decision to purchase something. For example, you might never visit Samsung’s site to buy a Samsung TV. All the research you need is already available on Amazon or Best Buy. Similarly, many insurance providers sell their insurance through 3rd party agents. Game companies sell their games via 3rd parties. What does web analytics data show in this case?

What you need is integrated data sources that provide you data other than just web analytics. I am not saying that it is going to be an easy task to get all this data but at least start thinking about those and see how you can bring them all together.

Comments? Questions?

Follow Me on Twitter: @anilbatra
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAnilBatra
Web Analytics Jobs

Do you need Real-Time Web Analytics?

Real-time web analytics provides you a view into what is happening on your site at that very moment. It is really interesting to see where visitors are coming from, what keywords they are searching, what pages they are viewing etc. Though most of the time that’s where it ends i.e. it is interesting but not very valuable. As many web analysts have stated time and again, the value of the analytics comes from the action you take on that data. So, unless you are going to take actions in real time you really don’t need real-time analytics. However, I can understand the temptation to use Real Time Analytics for instant gratification.

Side Bar:
Recently Google Analytics joined the bandwagon of providing Real-Time analytics. Other notable real time web analytics vendors include Chartbeat, Woopra. As of now, Google analytics only provides a very limited view of real time stats at this point, though I am assuming that it is just the beginning and Google will roll out more stats in its real time reports. 

Few cases where you might want to (or be tempted to) use Real-Time Analytics

  • You launched a new campaign e.g. paid search, email newsletter, TV ad , and would like to see how people are reacting to those campaigns.
  • You added new promotions on your site and want to see how visitors are reacting to those promotions, so that you can tweak those promotions in real time.
  • You added new stories, links etc. and want to see if anybody is clicking on them so that you can make some changes based on instant feedback. I can see the usefulness of this feature for news and media sites.
  • You made some technical changes e.g. changed tracking code and want to see if those pages are being recorded in Google Analytics. Real time reports can serve as QA tools.
  • You launched a new feature on your site, launched a video, deployed a new game and would like to know if your visitors are using it or not.

Keep in mind that even if you are ready to make changes in real time, you might not have statistically significant results based on few data points that you get in real time reports. If you have nothing better to do then you can for sure kill your time with some real time view into your site traffic.

Views from Twitter


What do you think? Have you found Real time analytics to be useful? How are you using it? Please share your views.

Web Analytics Jobs

QR Code Analytics

QR codes have started to pop-up in lot of places such as store display, business cards, online ads, postcards etc. Whether QR codes are here to stay or not but from the measurement perspective they do present a huge opportunity in measuring advertising’s (particularly offline) effectiveness.

If you are one of those marketers who have embraced QR code or are thinking about it or just curious to know how QR code measurement works then this post is for you.

Measuring URLs in QR Codes

You won’t be able to measure the number of impressions of the QR codes if they are distributed offline. What you can measure is how much traffic those QR codes are driving to your site or to your pages on 3rd party sites like facebook page, twitter account etc.

  • Measuring QR code links to your site

    Measuring QR codes that sends user to your site is as simple as campaign tracking. Just add the campaign tracking variable to the URLs that you have in your QR Codes and treat it like any other campaign. Then you can use your campaign reports to see how much traffic QR codes are bringing and how valuable that traffic is.

    (Note: The tracking code, that you should append, depends on your Web Analytics tool.

    For Google Analytics, you need to append add at least 3 variables, Source, Medium and Campaign Name. to the URL for it to be tracked in the Google Analytics (Check out URL Shortner, http://clop.in as it’s URL builder let’s you append the variables for tracking in Google Analytics, Omniture, WebTrend and Unica NetInsights )

    Say I want to create a QR code to send people to

    Instead of simply creating a QR code to http://webanalyis.blogspot.com I appended Google Analytic campaign tracking code so my URL looks like the following http://webanalysis.blogspot.com?utm_source=qrcode&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=qrcodeblogpost

    Now I can use the campaign tracking in Google Analytics to see the stats on my QR code advertising.

  • Measuring QR links to offfsite URLs such as Facebook page

    Since you won’t have your own web analytics tool running on a Facebook page you can use a URL shortener like http://clop.in or http://bit.ly (or better yet get a URL Shortener for your own domain with built in analytics from http://clop.in) to shorten the destination URL and then build a QR code using the shortened URL. This way you can use the built in analytics functionality of the URL shortener.

    Say I want to send user to my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TheAnilBatra

    Rather than sending user to the facebook page, via my QR code, I created a short URL using http://clop.in, http://clop.in/PByJfv and then used this shortened URL to build my QR Code.

    Now I can use the analytics reporting of http://clop.in/short-url-clopin.aspx?utm_source=qrcode&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=qrcodeblogpost to see the stats on my QR code advertising.

Tracking Phone Numbers in QR Code

To Track phone numbers, that get dialed when someone scans a QR code, use a unique phone number that you have tracking for. If you don’t have unique phone number then you can use 3rd party services likes Marchex to get a unique phone number for each QR code that you publish.

Note: To create a QR code use a service like http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ 

Questions? Comments?

Current Open Positions

Context is Critical: Creating a Culture of Web Analytics

Continuing my series on Creating a Culture of Analytics I would like to touch on a very critical aspect of creating a culture of Web Analytics and that is Context.

What is Context

According to Princeton.edu context is

  • Discourse that surrounds a language unit and helps to determine its interpretation
  • the set of facts or circumstances that surround a situation or event

Context takes the ambiguity out of the equation. As an Analyst it is very important that you provide full context when reporting your web analytics data. Context gets everybody on the same page. Do not leave anything for interpretation by the end users of your reports, give them the insights in a simple and easy to understand format.

Let’s look at an example to understand critical context is.

60 Degrees

If I say it is going to be 60 degrees tomorrow. What will be you reaction?
If you are in Minnesota – You will yell “Summer”
If you are in Seattle, you will think – ““Spring”
If you are in Florida, you will say “ Damn… Cold”
If you are in India, you will say “WTF….” (Indians measures temperature in Celsius and 60 degrees Celsius is 140 F)

Some other question that might pop in people’s mind are:

  • What is the temperature today?
  • Is it normal to have 60 degrees this time of the year

Without context 60 degrees does not mean much. Right.
Similarly when you report your numbers and tell report on visits, page views, time on site etc. it does not mean much unless you provide the full context.

Web Analytics & Context

Just saying that Visits are down by 10% from last week is not enough. You have to put that 10% decline in full context. Tell your end users what happened and why they should or should not worry.

So add something like : Visits are down 10% from last week and also 10% lower compared to the same time last year. Prior to this week we saw a 10% year over year growth but last week was abnormally down. Isn’t that betting better now?

You should go even further: Last year we got some free advertising from local newspaper sites that drove 20% additional traffic same time last year. Since we did not have the advertising deal this year, it impacted our visits this year. We noted the potential impact of newspaper site advertising in our last year’s annual recap (here is the link to last year report – people forget so remind them). If we take out the impact of spike from newspaper sites then we have a consistent pattern of 10% year over year increase. As noted in last few reports, that increase is due to our social media efforts this year. Now the picture is much clearer. Of course you should look into the full impact e.g. conversion, bounces, sales etc. (Note: How you present this story will depend on what format you chose to present your report)

Now everybody is on the same page and knows exactly what those numbers mean. Without that context, everybody would have had their own interpretations of the data. Misinterpretations lead to wrong action and/or mistrust in the data and the analytics team.

Final Words

Do not provide any reports without providing full context. Keep in mind that most of the canned and automatic reports do more harm than good because they do not provide context.

Other posts in the series

Follow me on twitter @anilbatra

Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anil-Batra-Page/130050670343547

Looking to fill your Web Analytics or Online Marketing position?  Post your open jobs on Web Analytics Job Board.

Current Open Positions