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Making analytics data meaningful and useful is still a struggle

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Companies have invested more web analytics budget on internal staff over the past year but are still struggling to make the data meaningful and useful for shaping digital strategy, according to new research from Econsultancy and Lynchpin.

The Online Measurement and Strategy Report 2009 found that there has been a shift away from spending on technology to spending on internal staff, with companies now spending more of this budget on human resources than on software and licences.

The proportion of budget for internal staff has increased from 36% to 42% of total web analytics spend while spending on technology has decreased from 45% to 38%.

But the research also found that just one in five companies (22%) has an internal strategy that ‘ties data collection and analysis to business objectives’ and only 27% say their web analytics definitely drive actionable insights, showing very little improvement since last year.

The decrease in spending on technology comes at a time when more companies are using free tools such as Google Analytics. The research found that 80% of companies are now using Google for analytics compared to 66% last year, although many of these companies are also using paid-for tools.

The research contains good and bad news for web analytics vendors. Less than half of responding organisations said they are getting return on investment from their paid-for analytics tool, but businesses using paid-for tools are more likely to change something frequently as a result of insights than those using Google Analytics.

The research, which follows a similar study last year, is based on a survey of more than 800 digital marketers working in-house for companies or for vendors and agencies.

“While the technology gets more and more sophisticated (and arguably more accessible from a cost perspective), the challenges in interpreting and actioning the data only get bigger,” says Andrew Hood, managing director of web analytics consultancy Lynchpin. “Resource is still a massive issue, and while companies are looking to increase spend on people there looks to be an underlying skills shortage operating against this.”

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