Point blank, everything you do this year can and must be tracked.

Because having an online presence means having a lot of marketing options, spending wisely and efficiently is ever important as the recession has not receded just yet (as discussed in my last post).  The best place to start is to sit down and take a good look at your goals and decide what you think your ROI should look like and what it is you are even doing on the web.

Traditionally, marketing has been responsible for making you stand out, making you break away from the pack with creativity – at times going with your gut instinct, and at others, going with the flow of the industry standards.  Marketing was responsible for spending the allocated budget, but was not accountable because there was no concrete way to track results aside from, “yeah it worked” or “damn it, it didn’t work”.

Today, there is no excuse; you should know where every single penny of your project goes (71.42% of sites use web analytics).  Aren’t you curious anyway?  It is so important that you test and track your every online initiative.  Ask yourselves, what do I want to do online?  Is it to generate more traffic and increasing conversions?  What should I invest in – paid search or organic?  The more questions you have, the stronger your data set will be; get a kick start on that Google Analytics account (GA is the top analytics provider at 54.04%, that’s about 2,161,734 sites using GA out there) not in vain, I can assure you.

Not just according to us, but according to webtrends.com, you should be getting in touch with your inner analyst this year.  Testing has already grown in complexity from its original A/B split testing to multi-variate testing (see Nik’s post).  This has made all the difference in giving marketers hard proof to making decisions and implementing changes to their sites.  Multivariate testing and site optimization hold the key to successful solutions today for companies large and small.  The companies that will be be on top of their analytics and running frequent tests on data generated, will be the ones that see the best outcomes to their initiatives.

It will be important to be able to use things like email marketing, analytics and search engine optimization as part of a single integrated plan.  On the other hand, social marketing is predicted to keep growing, and is predicted to merge with the idea of search engine optimization, to become its own growing platform called social search optimization.  With the boundless opportunity that social networks provide in terms of visibility and segmentation, it is safe to say that this will become a best practice for all sites.

Last but not least, the growth of mobile marketing and tracking for it must be accounted for.  The blurring of the mobile browsing capabilities and application of analytics to mobile and web usage will make a big difference in targeting and keeping the site current for users across platforms.

Here are just a few of the most important preliminary things in Google Analytics to pay attention to right now; we will elaborate on these in subsequent articles:
Measuring and understanding conversion
Understanding tracking code
Filter best practices
Managing profiles
Understanding goals and conversion funnels
Sharing GA data
Custom dashboards
Campaign tracking
Cost per click
Email tracking
Offline campaigns
Understanding site vendors
Implementing e-commerce tracking
Configuring custom segmentation
Event tracking
Tracking web sites with multiple domains / sub domains