The Value of Web Analytics in a Bad Economy

This past year the economy went from bad to worse, and is only now starting to show some signs of recovery. How has that affected the field of Web Analytics?

According a poll Corey Prohens did in 2008 (Web Analytics in a Recession, July 3, 2008), as the recession was just starting to hit, most web analysts were optimistic about their career prospects:

  • 74% of practitioners expect that spending on web analytics will increase at their company during the recession (40% said it would increase a bit / 34% said it would increase significantly)
  • 60% of practitioners said that the recession would either increase the likelihood of hiring additional web analytics resources or have no impact
  • 17% said that their company was either somewhat or very likely to reduce web analytics headcount during the recession
  • 2% thought that the recession would have a major negative impact on their career

This sounded great but the experts were skeptical that this would be the reality. For years Web Analytics has been undervalued at companies and those departments were often the first cut when times get tight. Has that trend changed? Taking a look at the national trend for jobs containing “Web Analytics” in the keywords, claims to have seen a 131% increase through the end of August 2009:

However if you look at the trend for “Web Analytics” in some major cities – things don’t look nearly as optimistic:

As you can see in cities like New York and Atlanta the trend since July has been down sharply. Similar patterns can be seen in other large cities like San Francisco, Chicago and Houston. So where is that 131% increase coming from? Digging a little deeper, there was a 66% increase in telecommuting jobs for “Web Analytics”, so that may explain some of the increase:

However, the increase in telecommuting opportunities in “Web Analytics” just doesn’t explain the overall trend. I see why experts like Eric Peterson are skeptical about last year’s optimism.

However all hope is not lost. Whether this past year’s trend was up or down, the recession is starting to show signs of recovery, and along with that comes an increased opportunity for jobs in every field, including Web Analytics. It’s clear that companies are starting to recognize the value that web analytics can bring to making marketing decisions.

For example, with a recent client of mine I was able to clearly demonstrate the value of increased spending on advertising campaigns to drive traffic to their web site. The weeks they increased their spending on advertising efforts, the traffic increased (and vice-versa). The trend was very consistent over several weeks. Along with that anecdotal evidence I was able to demonstrate based on the tracking codes we had in place where the traffic was coming from (TV ads, online ads, radio ads) to demonstrate where they were getting the most ROI for their spending. This was valuable information for them to make the right decisions on where to focus their advertising dollars.

So as we slowly climb out of this recession, I am cautiously optimistic for the future of my chosen career field.

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