Muddying the water is the fact that the UK recently completely revamped its stance on cookies, with new regulations now in force requiring that users be given an explicit choice whether or not to accept cookies. Cookies essential for the site’s functioning are exempted, but it’s hard to argue that an analytics cookie is “essential”. So if you’re using analytics you’ll need to implement a cookie opt-in process when visitors first arrive on your site. This isn’t great news for webmasters: when the Information Commissioner’s Office (the government body responsible for implementing the new law) implemented an opt-in process on its own website, its own analytics data collapsed by more than 90% – although that may be partly down to the ham-fisted way in which it was implemented.
For cookies collecting names and email addresses, it’s a lot greyer - we recommend a look at the guidelines here: http://www. sitecompliance.com.au/docs/thirdpvol.pdf
Real time analytics
Analytics are hugely useful for tracking long-term trends; but sometimes you can learn much more from watching how visitors are interacting with your site in real-time.
For example, if you’ve been running a campaign on your Facebook page or via Twitter, real-time analytics lets you follow the impact each update has on the behaviour of your fans as it happens. You can then adjust your marketing methods and even the layout of your site, on the fly, to make the most of positive feedback. It becomes possible to run several ad experiments per day, rather than having to roll out changes on a large scale. This can save money for large e-commerce sites, which typically spend a huge chunk of their marketing budgets on pay-per-click marketing such as Google AdWords, and need to generate the best return.
Real-time analytics is also invaluable when a site is being developed, upgraded or repaired, since it allows you to follow the progress of visitors through the site – and spot problem pages or features instantly. Google Analytics now offers a Real-Time view, but services such as Chartbeat and Clicky offer a richer live view of visitors’ behaviour. Both charge a modest monthly fee but include generous free-trial periods, so you can test whether the insights they provide are worthwhile.
WALKTHROUGH - Set up Google Analytics on your WordPress site: