Developing a Successful Web Analytics Program: An Interview with Eric T. Peterson

Claire Sale's picture

“Measurement’ is a big buzz word in the NP Tech world. But for some of us, recognizing the value isn’t enough to execute a strategy. That’s where Web Analytics Demystified comes in. They are a consulting firm that helps develop successful, sustainable, and scalable web analytics programs, and have done a great job sharing their knowledge and creating a community around measurement. Recently, I connected with the firm's founder, Eric T. Peterson, to learn more.


Eric is the founder of Web Analytics Demystified and has worked in web analytics for over 10 years as a practitioner, consultant, and analyst.  He is the author of three best-selling web analytics books, Web Analytics Demystified, Web Site Measurement Hacks, and The Big Book of Key Performance Indicators, and one of the most widely read web analytics writers at He is currently building a strategic web analytics consulting practice to provide guidance to companies working to maximize the return from their investment in web analytics.  

Eric has also created what can only be called "Google Analytics for Twitter", the Twitalyzer. The growth of Twitalyzer has been nothing short of explosive and the application has been cited on CNN and by social media thought leaders like Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble, and Pete Cashmore.



Q. How did you get started with Web Analytics Demystified and what has spurred your passion for data analytics?


I founded Web Analytics Demystified in 2007 after years of working in the digital measurement industry as a consultant, analyst, and practitioner.  Our mission at Web Analytics Demystified is to help our clients develop and evolve their digital measurement and analysis strategies.  We are lucky to work with some of the best known brands in the world on long-term strategic projects.

I personally got into the industry in the late 90’s when I had to choose between working in the rain on Forest Service contracts or working at Webtrends, one of the early web analytics software vendors.  The latter paid better and was drier, and the rest they say is history.  Three books, thousands of blog posts, and countless clients helped I am pretty well-known for my work.

My passion comes from an intense desire to see businesses and nonprofits make the best possible decisions when they invest in digital technologies.  The Internet is new for all of us, no matter how long you’ve been working online.  Not everything works, and not every “sexy” thing is necessarily good for your business.  Measurement is an excellent albeit somewhat “old school” way to make good business decisions, especially when combined with good knowledge of one’s business and your customers.



Q. What are some of the most common mistakes that nonprofits make when analyzing their data on their own?


The single most common mistake that all companies make, not just nonprofits, is to not assign someone responsibility for surfacing digital insights.  A common misconception about web analytics is that it is “easy” and somehow the insights will just magically appear.  Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth --- web analytics is actually kind of hard when you’re doing it at any kind of scale and with any level of seriousness.

People are the solution.  People make sure implementations are working, people make sure the data makes sense, and people translate data into information, insights, and recommendations.

Fortunately, as we’ve discussed previously, Web Analytics Demystified has founded the Analysis Exchange to help nonprofits get access to people to help them with web analytics.  In exchange for nothing but a little time and the desire to learn more about your online visitors, nonprofits are able to get great and totally free help from experienced web analytics professionals.



Q. This is a great way for nonprofits, NGOs, and other organizations to receive free web data analysis from aspiring web analytics pros! Can you tell us more about the Analysis Exhange program and why you decided to create it?


Sure! As I mentioned in my last answer, Analysis Exchange provides totally free access to experience web analytics “help” through a unique three-party model.  Nonprofits bring data and questions, students sign up to provide analysis, and our mentors make sure the analysis is good and the results are high-quality.  All any of your readers need to do to get started with Analysis Exchange is:

   1. Go to and create a free account
   2. Wait an hour or two to be approved into the program
   3. Go to and create a project

If you take out the waiting in step #2 the entire process takes about 15 minutes!  Once a nonprofit or NGO creates a project our nearly 1,000 students and mentors are notified and they will start to sign up to help.  When the nonprofit selects a mentor and student the project begins and the work usually takes a few weeks to complete.

We created the Analysis Exchange for two fundamental reasons: First, the web analytics industry desperately needs a training ground for new analysts --- a way for motivated individuals of all ages and backgrounds to get their hands on live data in order to answer business questions.  Second, because we have this really active community who has shown a huge capacity to help out if they’re given a mechanism to do so.  

We see Analysis Exchange as a great way to give back to the greater good and an opportunity to leverage our unique skills to do more good than just making more money for our companies.


Q. What else is Web Analytics Demystified doing to create a community around measurement?


We founded the world’s most active social network for web analytics professionals back in 2004 (Web Analytics Wednesday), we are active members of the Web Analytics Association (my partner John Lovett is currently on the Board of Directors), and in general we do whatever we can to make the lives of analysts better.  We do all of this because we learned early on the value of paying forward and investing in the community, not just our own successes.



Q. How can people learn more about your services and get involved?

Here are some links:

    * Visit our web site
    * Learn about our services
    * Get involved in the Analysis Exchange
    * Contact us
    * Follow us: @erictpeterson and @johnlovett
    * Call us: (503) 282-2601 (GMT -8) or (603) 262-5636 (GMT -5)

Thanks so much for asking such great questions!  We really, really hope your readers will join us in the Analysis Exchange.