This morning, I had an opportunity to sit through a Google Analytics demo. Analytics being what they are, it is what it is and it fullfils a role at the right price (FREE! - Bearing in mind that there is no such thing as a free Google lunch.) no better or worse than Omniture or Webside Story or Webtrends or the like. Each has their own upside and downside so a comparative analysis is not in the scope of this epistle. Or is today a diatribe day?

No, no, I'll save the diatribe regarding Google Analytics for another day. (Frankly, it sent shivers up my spine and not in a good way.)

Today, very broadly is about analytics or perhaps, more precisely, it's about conversion. Yes, a conversion conversation.

It comes about not merely because of what that little urchin in the big search engine's body had to posit, but also because of three conversations that happened throughout the day.

The first was regarding negative keyword and the role they play. Let's assume the client was promoting products having to do with cats. Negative keywords? asked the client. There couldn't possibly be anything negative about cats. Well, what about Cats - The Musical? People who love cats the musical have to love cats. Maybe. Unless of course they love musicals. And with Cats - The Musical coming to your town as announced on the news last night, that could do some real damage to your CPC budget. Oh. said the client, that could be catastrophic.

Okay, it wasn't cats but you get the point.

The second had to do with content that was being released and promoted. The client presented us with notes on a white paper they were posting to their web site. In return, we presented a choice of headlines: one regarding a white paper being posted to a web site, the other announcing the release of a global study they'd partnered on. Simple choice.

The third was about trying to fit a ye olde square peg into yonder round hole. Client optimizes for word "X" but draws significantly more revenue and margin on word or phrase "Y". In your heart of hearts, you know there's a major site design coming. And about 100 conversations, arguments and fights before that.

Analytics are good for one thing and that ultimately is stating the obvious when it comes you your site, your traffic and your revenue. Who, what, where, when, why... and finally, how much did they spend/invest? (Remembering time is an expenditure.)

Analytics are a great thing. I like to think we're all passioned based. We do whatever it is we do because we care enough to want to do it. But passion can obfuscate reality and objectivity and that's when and where analytics gets to shine. (And in pie charts, no less!)

Get to understand analytics. But get your boss and your client to understand them too. It saves time and it should save money or at least help to give you a better return on what you're spending now.

~ The (SEP) Guy