An Interview with Eric Peterson, President of Web Analytics Demystified

1.   We have seen a major uptick in the volume of talent inquiries over the past few months – especially compared to the same period last year. How is business for Web Analytics Demystified? Have you seen a similar increase in inquiries for your consulting services?

Without a doubt. I had half-expected 2009 to be quite slow and my summer to be relaxing but nothing of the sort happened. In addition to a handful of projects with existing vendor clients I added four major U.S. retailers to my client roster and Aurelie Pols, my business partner in Europe, won a contract with one of the largest pharmaceutical concerns in the world, all since June!

More importantly I think I am seeing a substantial increase in truly qualified leads coming to our door. I think companies are looking past the recession now and actively trying to figure out how they’re going to “do more” with web analytics than they have in the past. For me that’s awesome news (since that’s what I work with my clients to discover!)

 

2.   What do most of your engagements look like these days? Are you doing mostly high-level measurement strategy or do you get more into the tactical stuff like define KPI’s , using tools more effectively and interpreting data?

My business is still an invigorating combination, all of the above. Three active clients have me doing “big picture” strategy work, two have me helping them define their key performance indicators, one had me build a series of dashboards to help them better run their business, and three currently have me helping them review vendors as part of technology selection projects.

I’ve also been happy to be able to spend time on the road with a variety of vendor clients and am finalizing a four-country tour of Europe with Aurelie in October that will have me delivering the keynote address at Emetrics Stockholm and evangelizing on behalf of our industry in Copenhagen, Oslo (I get to relax in Holland, at least for now.) We’re finalizing some partnerships now and I will be rolling those out at Emetrics.

 

3.   Have you seen any change / improvement in the agency world in terms of their level of comprehension / sophistication with web analytics (in the past 12-months)?

Not so much in the last 12 months since most companies have been heads-down trying to keep their business afloat. More than any sector I know my friends at agencies have been hard hit by the economy.

 

4.   It seems to me like there are an awful lot of people putting out shingles and becoming independent web analytics consultants. Many of them have a desire to build consultancies around themselves. What do you have to say to all of these people? Is there room for them in the ecosystem?

Sure, the more the merrier I say, and I have been providing guidance to a handful of them. But the problem that many “independents” are having, at least anecdotally, is marketing and awareness generation; it turns out that having yet another web analytics blog and twittering is not enough to build a million dollar consulting practice. When these folks ask me how I generate leads I’m never sure what to say — I mean, my phone just rings, my books continue to fly out the door, and I get paid to travel the world and build awareness about my company and brand. Kind of hard to replicate that (and keep in mind, I have been working in this industry since 1998.)

Honestly if there is one thing I’m glad that I did in my life it was to self-publish Web Analytics Demystified. That book has opened more doors than I would have ever imagined. Unfortunately I think the era of the book has passed us by as well — whereas when I wrote Demystified it was the only book around other than Sterne’s Web Metrics now web analytics books are a dime a dozen — Burby, Jackson, Mortensen, Kaushik, and probably a dozen I’m forgetting. This is, of course, why I’m taking a different approach towards my writing …

 

5.   Earlier this year we were proud to become global sponsors of Web Analytics Wednesday’s. You started WAW’s. Are you a little bit surprised about just how widespread, popular and successful these events have become? I am not aware of anything like them in any other industry…

Well, I co-started Web Analytics Wednesday, and I usually give June Dershewitz from Semphonic the credit for the event since it was her idea — I just asked her if I could help make it “global” (and she agreed!) But yes, I am hugely surprised at how much WAW has grown around the globe! In any given month more than 500 of “us” around the world are getting together — face-to-face, how weird is that!?! — and talking about our jobs, our challenges, our goals, our families.

Of all the things I have done in the web analytics industry — the Yahoo! group, my books, our job board and discovery tools, my presentations — Web Analytics Wednesday is hands-down the one I am most proud of.

 

6.   I am personally really looking forward to participating in the X Change Conference that Web Analytics Demystified and Semphonic are hosting in September. I was wondering, given the economy, if the event is sold out. If not, how is the event going to compare with the one held last year?

I’m super excited that you decided to join us at the X Change. You know I consider you “the man” for talent placement in the web analytics sector and I suspect you’ll have a great time at the conference. I don’t think we’re totally sold out yet — travel budget has been really hard on folks — but I’m getting more and more email every day from people saying “with the recession getting better my boss is more open to my coming to the conference!” which is super-encouraging.

In terms of comparison to last year, I honestly think we’re gonna blow the roof off this year! Our keynote rocks (“Four Founder’s Perspective” with Brett Crosby (Urchin/Google Analytics), Bob Page (Accrue/Yahoo Web Analytics), John Pestana (Omniture/ObservePoint) and Matt Cutler (NetGenesis/Visible Measures), our huddle leaders are better than ever (Adobe, Turner, Kohler, Nokia, Microsoft, Intuit, HP, Best Buy, Forrester, Gartner, HowStuffWorks, SalesForce.com, New York Times, Schwab, and more. Plus, the participants make the event and we have people coming from some of the best companies in the world including Apple, CNN, BBC, Verizon, Macys, Cisco, MTV, Myspace, and many, many more.

Oh, we also invited great vendor people from SAS, Omniture, Unica, Coremetrics, Foresee Results, Teradata, ObservePoint, Tealeaf, and a few more since it helps to have the vendor perspective. All in all I’m delighted with how things are turning out and cannot wait for September 9th to get here! Your readers can learn more about the X Change at http://www.xchangeconference.com

Thanks Corry!

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