Read that headline again, and make sure it sinks in. Your web site is a value generation machine. You feed it visitors, and, if it’s working properly, it converts them to value for your business. It works by getting the visitors who arrive at your machine to perform a set of behaviors that lead up to a specific value-generating behavior – a conversion.
Your job as a marketer or site operator, is to optimize the efficiency at which your machine is working. You want it to produce more value for less cost. To manage the efficiency of this machine, you need to understand two things very clearly: how does your site contribute value to your business; and what are the visitor behaviors that lead to that value.
If you don’t have clear understanding of those two things, or buy-in from all of your stakeholders on those two things, no web measurement tool in the world can help you. When you do gain a clear understanding of those two things, and when you become comfortable with them — when they are second nature — it will be easy to figure out what you should be measuring to help you manage and tweak your machine. When you know what you need to measure to manage and tweak your machine, web analytics tools will cease to seem overwhelming and daunting. You’ll know just what you need them to do, and, conversely, you’ll know what features of your tools you can ignore as simply more noise.