The Analytics Assessment: Gary Angel Goes One-on-One with Web Analytics Guru Eric Peterson


Eric Peterson (pictured) is one of — if not the – leading figure(s) in web analytics. He, along with Jim Sterne, has been instrumental in building a community around web analytics and establishing it as a discipline. Eric is one of those pretty rare people who functions well at every level of a discipline — from beginner to advanced, from practitioner to business stakeholder. His three books (and counting) show that same range — covering web analytics from a business perspective and for the beginner to advanced practitioner.

Eric has a webinar coming up with Aquent and the AMA on web analytics targeted to a very broad audience. He and I “sat down” via IM and had the following conversation about the webinar, his books, building web analytics into a company and web analytics as a discipline. If you’re in online marketing (and why else would you be reading ADOTAS?), then you need to have at least a baseline understanding of web analytics. And Eric is one of the very best people to gain that understanding from.

G. Angel: Eric, I take it that your upcoming AMA webinar is about getting people started in web analytics. You’ve probably had as much experience with that as anybody. What kind of things will the webinar cover and (by inference) what kind of things does it take to get people started in web analytics?

E. Peterson: Yep, when Aquent and the AMA approached me about this web event they said they wanted to provide a presentation that would level-set web analytics for a very broad audience. They felt that “Web Analytics Demystified” would be an excellent basis for this.

In my presentation I will cover “Ten Steps to Web Analytics Success” ranging from “Defining Your Business Objectives” to “Hiring the Right People” to “Adhering to the Process”

All ten strategies are, in my experience, critical to companies getting the type of return on investment from web analytics that is universally being sought.

G. Angel: You mention Web Analytics Demystified – but you’ve written several books – talk about the books you’ve written — how they fit together and who/how you think people should approach them. Is Web Analytics Demystified the best place to start?

E. Peterson: Well, I’m biased in this regard but yes, I think that Web Analytics Demystified is an excellent starting point for companies either just now considering an investment in web analytics or considering a re-investment in web analytics.

I recently re-read the book, something I’d written back in 2003 and 2004, and was pleasantly surprised to realize that almost all of what I said then remains true. Web Analytics Demystified is about the basics — what you need to know to get started and where to go when you’re up and running.

My second book, Web Site Measurement Hacks (O’Reilly 2005) is a collaborative effort with many of the great thought leaders in our space — folks like John Marshall and Dr. Stephen Turner from ClickTracks, Jay McCarthy of WebSideStory, Bryan Eisenberg from FutureNow, and Jim Novo from the Drilling Down Project. WSMH is good for folks who are a little more advanced.

And my third book, The Big Book of Key Performance Indicators really drills down into the topic of reporting using KPIs — their definition, distribution, and use.

You’re description of Web Analytics Demystified sounds like beginning from a company perspective – what about an analyst who’s a new hire or someone trying to learn the business – same story?

E. Peterson: Well, if you’re new to the space you should start with Demystified but most folks in the space tell me they’ve read the book and have moved on to Hacks and TBBOKPIs to deepen their understanding of their jobs.

I was lucky enough to get into writing about the subject early on … for years it was just the great Jim Sterne and I.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here