I recently read a post on the Yahoo! Web Analytics message board that opened my eyes again to the pain of companies trying to forge ahead with finding a web analyst and getting involved with web analytics. In this case, the poster talked about how he had suddenly found himself as "the guy responsible for driving the web analytics strategy".
Reading that quote immediately brought back memories from when I used to be an account manager at one of the web analytics vendors. I can't tell you how many times I heard war stories from employees who had received the news from their managers that they were now in charge of web analytics for the company. These clients would tell me that they were now expected to run the web analytics strategy on top of their current job descriptions. As an account manager, the first thing that came to my mind was "sympathy". Knowing what I knew about the time and dedication it takes to run a successful analytics strategy, I just couldn't fathom how these employees were going to manage web analytics on top of their current work loads.
Now I can understand how somebody could implement Google Analytics and only check the reports once a month. Why? Because it's free and by not looking at the reports, you're not burning a hole in your wallet. But somebody please tell me why any company would ever spend over $10,000 (or more) on an analytics package and not have a dedicated person in place to read and interpret the data? It just doesn't make sense.
I'm here to say that being a "Web Analyst" is definitely a full time job. A successful web analytics strategy goes hand in hand with a dedicated web analyst. I've heard the experts out there say this time and time again, yet companies still try and take the shortcut route. Rather than moving in a dedicated web analyst, they end up dumping the analytics into the lap of one of their employees who already have too much to do. And note the word "dedicated". I'm not saying that a company has to go out and spend the money to hire an experienced web analyst (though it helps to ensure faster results), but at a minimum they should move a current employee into a dedicated web analyst role when jumping into web analytics. This way the employee can put their full attention into improving the online business and not be distracted by other job requirements.
So if you're a manager reading this post and you're trying to figure out why you're not getting a good ROI from your web analytics package, then you may want to take a step back and ask yourself this one simple question, "Are we taking full advantage of our web analytics investment by having a dedicated web analyst on staff?"