Web Analytics for Beginners – MIA


This week, Eric Peterson wrote a post about web analytics for beginners. As usual, he had lots of great advice, but I have to disagree with the “blog part” of his post. His advice was…

“Read some of the web analytics weblogs to keep up on current happenings. I personally like mine (go figure), but I also highly recommend Avinash Kaushik and Gary Angel.”

Every thing else he wrote made sense. (Take the WAA’s Web Analytics Course. Read the Web Analytics Forum. Buy and read Eric’s book, Web Analytics DeMystified.) But if you are in marketing, are suddenly in charge of analytics (Eric’s scenario) and are still working to understand the difference between visits and unique visitors, or log files vs. page tagging — do you really want to read Eric’s blog? On Eric’s blog, you get to learn advanced web analytics, like creating a metric for visitor engagement. In the same vein, do you really want to read Gary Angel’s blog? On Gary’s blog, you get to learn advanced web analytics, like worst practices in Business Intelligence. (Gary, I am sure I mangled that completely. Sorry.) They are both excellent resources but they sure aren’t the place you start when you need to know what a KPI is.

Avinash definitely has some great newbie stuff on his blog. Like his 10/90 rule post. Or his Tips for Small Business Web Analytics success. (And I really wanted to show one of his very first articles on visitor segmentation, but I can’t find it.)

Does anyone else do newbie stuff? I went through my feed reader looking for who else I could recommend. If the beginner is beginning with Google Analytics, Justin Cutroni is an awesome place to start — but not everyone uses GA. David Rhee, a web analyst at Gateway Computer, wrote a short piece for new analysts that really rocks (so get it on your list, but it’s not a full tutorial.)

Wouldn’t it be great if someone who loved analytics and understood them read all the blogs (there aren’t really all that many) and then posted a link and a snippet to every beginner post?

One last thing. There is another important beginner resource, the Web Analytics Association Training Day. It is really designed with new analysts in mind. (I am pretty sure of that.) It will be May 6 in San Francisco, the day before the Emetrics Summit, and I see that you can already sign up for that event (by itself or in addition to the Summit) on the Emetrics summit registration page.

Robbin Steif

Our founder, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics in 2004. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a Diamond Award for business leadership. In 2017, Robbin sold her company to HS2 Solutions and has since retired from LunaMetrics.

  • Eric

    Good point. My series on measuring visitor engagement, Gary’s series on content hierarchies, your series on regular expressions, Avinash’s posts on UCL/LCL and “real” conversion, Ian talking about measuring Web 2.0, Dylan talking about GQM, … not that much for the absolute beginner out there.

    The same has been said from time to time about the Yahoo! group, that the conversation is often not approachable for someone new to the field (didn’t you say that?!) It’s kind of a shame, really, since the original idea was to have a place where anyone could get their questions answered. It seems to have transmogrified into something somehow different based on the primary interests of a relatively small group of loud voices.

    Still, I think you read my suggestions as a mutually exclusive list. I wasn’t suggesting that the reader pick a single choice; rather I suggest the reader new to analytics do “all of the above.” I like to think (and I’m sure Gary and Avinash do as well) that when you really get into this stuff, you’ll find something of interest and value in our posts. But yeah, any of the three of us is probably a bit much for someone just getting into it. I agree.

    But if you need to know what a KPI is, hopefully you’ll learn that from any of my books (see my suggestion #1, shameless self-promotion I know but people still seem to like all three books.)

    Oh, I like your idea about bookmarking beginner-level content out there. Couldn’t we use social bookmarks to do that? Sounds like a job for the WAA!

    Anyway, thanks for thinking of me.


  • Hi Eric.

    We have already been discussing the bookmarking opportunities in the WAA Marketing committee *but* it never occurred to us to make this a newbie project. Maybe your idea is a better one, use it to create a beginner’s resource. So glad to hear that you are signing up to join the Marketing Committee 🙂

    sigh. Well, if we can’t have you, we’ll take your beginner spin on this idea….


    ps don’t forget to tell the people who write you about the WAA Training Day.

  • Eric

    Ha! I only wish I had time for WAA committees … I barely seem to have time for my kids after work, blogging, etc. But one thing occurred to me, the webcast I am giving on behalf of Aquent and the American Marketing Association on March 6th is pretty much what you’re asking for, an introduction to how to be successful with web analytics.

    Aquent specifically asked me to build a presentation that would speak to a very broad range of needs and that would communicate the “how” of doing web analytics to folks with diverse understandings of the work we do.

    You and your readers can learn more about the presentation in my blog (which contains a link to register for the free webcast):


    Who knows, maybe ** you’ll ** be the blogger to critique my presentation in real-time. 😉

    Anyway, since the del.icio.us idea only depends on people and time, you should float the idea on the Y! group. Who knows, maybe someone will have more time than you or I.

    All the best,


  • Phil Kemelor

    Well Robbin, I apologize in advance if this seems like too much shameless promotion, but I thought I’d mention that the book I wrote, The Executive’s Guide for Web Site Measurement and Testing is exactly for the audience you describe. I think of it as a pre-requisite to Eric’s books…

    In Jim Sterne’s review of the book, he wrote:
    “This is the book to get for one of two reasons:
    1. You’re in charge and you’re a manager, not a techie.
    and / or
    2. You’ve just been handed the web measurement responsibility
    and you really don’t know where to start.

    This is not a book for the highly educated and deeply knowledgeable
    but every online marketing manager needs this on his or her shelf
    within arm’s reach.”

    In any case, I hope the book might help newbies get up the learning curve.

    Folks can learn more at:

    Phil Kemelor

  • Jacques Warren

    Hi Robbin,

    I would suggest classics such as Jim Sterne’s Web Metrics and Hurol Inan’s Measuring the Success of Your Web Site, a bit dated, but two books that were written with the beginner in mind.

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