In order to get some different point of views about some topics of our industry I interviewed two of the main referents, Eric Peterson and Jim Sterne. Everybody know them so there isn’t so much to add but my personal feeling… Great people and passionate professionals.
Eric Peterson, with more than 10 years of working in the industry, is one of the most experienced professionals in the world. He is the Author of the book Web Analytics Demystified, one of the most important books in this field and founded Web Analytics Demystified Inc. in 2007 after working as an Analyst for Jupiter Research. His blog Web Analytics Demystified is one of the most relevant blogs in the Web Analytics Industry, with thousand subscribers around the globe.
Jim Sterne is the Founding President and current Chairman of the Web Analytics Association. He wrote several books like his widely acclaimed book, World Wide Web Marketing, was a groundbreadking look at commercial websites from the customer perspective. He also produces the Emetrics Summit in London and Santa Barbara which attract attendees and speakers from around the world.
So, lets the party started!…
Juan Damia – If your neighbor ask you what is your job about, what would be your answer?
Eric – I usually tell people I am a teacher or educator for managers in the technology sector, an author, and a paid public speaker. If they keep asking I give them a copy of Web Analytics Demystified and they usually stop asking
Jim – I run conferences and an association that’s all about measuring the success of a website.
Juan Damia – Paid or Free Web Analytics tools?
Eric – Yes
Jim – There is plenty of room for both. The free tools do about 75% of what a sophisticated website needs. If your site is not sophisticated, don’t spend the money. But as soon as you hit the wall, there’s nothing for it but going shopping. The free tools do a great job of getting people started. While a company is trying to figure out if and why they need web analytics, the people who are actually doing the work can throw some tags on some pages and prove the value to everybody. Then, they can start learning how to get the most out of such tools. That means they are much better prepared when it’s time to talk to the paid tools/services. They will have a much better idea about what questions to ask.
Juan Damia – In company or Outsourced Web Analytics team?
Eric – Yes. The last two answers are somewhat glib but without context “yes” is as good an answer as “no” … I suppose my good friend Jim Sterne would have said “It depends” which is likely the BEST answer.
Jim – This turns out to be a corporate culture question so the answer is, “It depends.” Coca-Cola has said that their analysts can’t keep up with all the tools and all the best practices because things are changing so fast. It’s fairly easy teaching an outside analyst about how they have sold colored sugar water for over a 100 years and it’s fairly hard for their internal analysts to know what’s been going on in 100 other companies in the past year.
Juan Damia – Why do you think Packet Sniffing technology has not being used by the main Web Analytics Tools providers?
Eric – Good question. I think Accrue had a great opportunity back in the 1990’s to drive home the value of packet sniffing and basically blew it. As the web analytics sale transitioned from an IT-sell to a marketing-sell the notion of IT involvement to install and maintain hardware became increasingly unappealing. Too bad since Tealeaf has built a great business around packet sniffing …
Jim – Packet sniffers are great to answer a specific question but generate an overwhelming amount of data if deployed over a whole site. Those tools are very good if you need to know both sides of the conversation between server and browser – all the data that’s been displayed to the visitors, everything in the shopping cart, etc. But for 90% of what analysts are thinking about it’s overkill.
Juan Damia – Last year was full of surprises/changes in our industry. What do you think the last year events mean to our industry?
Eric – Well, given that I predicted the consolidation years ago I wasn’t that surprised really. These things happen and in general I think our industry today is the strongest it has ever been!
Jim – We are still a young industry experiencing growing pains, acquisitions, misunderstanding by the government(s) and trying hard to explain what we do to those who control the budget.
Juan Damia – What’s the most important challenge our industry will face in the near future?
Eric – I believe the upcoming decade will be about testing and optimization which necessitates having your house in order for measurement, reporting, and analysis. Too few companies today have a strategic plan for measurement but that is what is required to really benefit from testing. As an industry we have to figure out how to get management to pay more attention to online data … once we solve that problem great things will start to happen!
Jim – Acceptance. Explaining what we do to those who control the budget. Imagine a senior manager who has marketing or advertising in their blood. They easily understood banner ads and are finally comfortable with search. But now, you need them to understand what Facebook is, how it can be valuable and finally, how it can be measured. And blogs, and Twitter, and why Google’s opt-out plug-in is important and whatever pops up tomorrow afternoon.
Juan Damia – If I tell you “Latam” (regarding Web Analytics) what is the first word/idea that come into your mind?
Eric – Hmm, either “Latin America” or the code name for Google Analytics rumored data exploration product … did you ask Avinash Kaushik?
Jim – Diversity. Latin America is a big place. Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile – different languages, different cultures, different economies. It’s like saying “Europe” an trying to think of it as one thing. The second word that comes to mind is “passion”. Everybody I’ve met from Latam has been laser-focused and high-energy. It’s exhilarating!
Juan Damia – Favorite Place?
Eric – Home with my kids.
Jim – Because I travel so much, home really tops my list. Next comes London. I’m a huge fan. But then, I’’ve never been to Argentina so perhaps it’s too soon to say.
Juan Damia – Favorite Book?
Eric – Strange in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein or any of Terry Prachett’s “Discworld” books.
Jim – How the Best Get Better by Dan Sullivan – for entrepreneurs. All the Spencer detective novels by Robert B. Parker – for airplanes.
Juan Damia – Favorite Movie?
Eric – Hmmm, I really enjoyed the last Batman movie with Heath Ledger … man was that dude creepy!
Jim – The Sting.
Thank you very much Eric and Jim for taking time for this interview I know how busy you are this days.