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Analytics How-Tos

How to Learn How to Do Web Analytics

So you want to do web analytics. It sounds like the name of a game show or competition, and maybe the process to learn web analytics is like one. But no matter if you’re in school wanting to know what web analytics really is about or at a job wanting to know more about how to progress in web analytics, you’ve got to start somewhere. So let’s get to it!

Why Learn Web Analytics?
Why SHOULD you learn web analytics? Usually, you’re wanting to learn web analytics to solve a problem for your website. Instead of searching in the dark about how your website is performing, you’ve been hearing about how this strange concept of “web analytics” will fix it. Well, web analytics won’t automatically fix your problem of decreased visits to your site nor will it fix other site issues. Web analytics will give you data and various metrics to let you know what’s happening on your website. But you have to understand what those numbers mean to form conclusions as to why and how certain things are happening on your website. So taking just numbers to actual analysis is the reason you need to learn web analytics.

Where To Start With Web Analytics?
Most people usually don’t jump right into a project with foreign terminology and expect to learn it instantly (or very fast) and not make mistakes. Not every web analytics tool out there has an abundant amount of information about it, and you might not even know which analytics tool you want to use. So how do you go about learning web analytics if you don’t know where to start?

Get familiar with influencers in the web analytics realm and start reading their stuff! Usually every single one of these influencers have blog posts, videos, infographics, ebooks, and more about the basics of web analytics. Once you get the basics down, everything else they’re talking about will start to make sense.

Get Help From Popular Blogs/Influencers In The Industry
As mentioned before, to start understanding web analytics, you need to study the work of the people who know it best. Begin reviewing the following influencers’ work (and follow them on Twitter for even more web analytics goodies):

  • Avinash Kaushik – Avinash is the go to person about web analytics and digital marketing. He’s been writing about web analytics since 2006 on his blog and has published some best-selling web analytics books in the past nine years. No matter which post you read of his, you’ll learn something new each time.
  • Marshall Sponder – This web analytics and SEO/SEM expert writes a plethora of information on both web and social media analytics. After working with companies like IBM and Monster on their web analytics, you can trust that Marshall knows what he’s talking about.
  • Web Analytics Land – While this blog has been inactive since March 2013, it is one of the rare blogs that talks mostly about Adobe Analytics.
  • Usability Tools – Like its name indicates, if you’re itching to know more about analytics tools, check this blog out. It will show you which analytics tools you should look into for both desktop and mobile.
  • Data Set Go – While this blog hasn’t been around for very long, it will help you better understand web analytics and all its parts, especially if you are new to web analytics.
  • Anil Batra – Anil is another Google Analytics guru who provides insight to anything and everything digital marketing, digital analytics, web analytics, and more.
  • Gary Angel – Gary’s on top of new tools and resources for web analytics. What helps him be ahead of the industry is that he is the leader for Semphonic’s web analytics development.
  • Nathan Gilliatt – For all of you executives and business leaders who have no idea the value of web analytics, Nathan will make all of you become web analytics evangelists. Nathan explains all the complicated concepts of web analytics in simple terms, so anyone can learn from his blog posts.
  • Eric T. Peterson – Another go to person for web analytics, Eric has been involved in the analytics field since 1998 and also has a couple of books on web analytics that everyone should check out.

Take Classes and Get Certified
The next step after learning from the top web analytics influencers is to take classes and get certified. Here are some of the best and most detailed lessons and courses you can take to become an advanced analytics expert:

  • Google Analytics – All the lessons and practice tests you need to become certified in Google Analytics (FREE).
  • Lynda.com – Web analytics tutorials, specifically Google Analytics focused ($25-$37.50/month, $250-$375/year, or free with certain .edu email addresses)
  • Market Motive – Learn more than just web analytics. Lessons in web analytics, multi-channel analytics, social media analytics, Google-specific analytics, and more ($299/month with access to every class they offer)
  • The University of British Columbia – Learn everything about digital analytics, including metrics, statistics, measurements, and more ($2500-$2840 for the 5 month course; DAA members receive discounts)
  • Adobe Analytics – Get Adobe Analytics’ certification in 3 days ($3600)
  • Adobe Analytics (Adobe TV) – Get a basic tour of Adobe Analytics from the Adobe/Omniture team (FREE)
  • Coursera – Learn anything and everything to do with web analytics (FREE)

Applying What You’ve Learned From Web Analytics
After spending time every day for a while (however long it takes you to understand and consume this new information), it’s time to put your lessons to work. Apply what you’ve learned from web analytics industry leaders with

  • Your own blog – Set up a Google Analytics account and connect it to your blog. Start playing around with the metrics in Google Analytics and test yourself as you’re going through each of the metrics. What do they mean? Are they actionable metrics? Pretend you’re a business leader, and ask yourself what a company leader wants to see from web analytics. Then start creating reports so that you can write about them on your blog. Besides it giving you practice with web analytics and justifying what the numbers mean, it can give you content to publish on your blog, too.
  • Custom analytics – Take advantage of Google Analytics’ reports, segments, and tags. Create customized versions of each to take your understanding of advanced analytics to a new level.
  • A different web analytics tool – Are you getting a bit comfortable with Google Analytics? Give yourself a challenge with a different analytics tool. Check out Piwik, Open Web Analytics, and CloudFare for some free web analytics tools to get started!
  • Your own web analytics articles – Any the above three exercises will give you inspiration for blog posts, but you’re not limited to just those exercises. Try commenting on recent web analytics news or giving your audience thoughts on what you think of [web analytics’ guru]’s recent blog post.
  • Social media – Social media is one of the biggest ways to get your name out there, connect, and chat with other web analysts. Join Twitter chats and start sending your blog content regularly through social media channels.

Continuing With Web Analytics/The Future of Web Analytics
Web analytics is constantly changing, so there are plenty of things to read and watch out for in the coming years. Talks of more sophisticated web analytics tools and solutions that resolve the context problems with numbers; the disconnect between social, web, and internal information; the overload of big data; and the web analytics communication silos across departments in companies are already being talked about, so get in on that conversation. Let us know about your journey with web analytics in the comments below or on Twitter @Amplytics.

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