Over the last several weeks, a number of Clients, business partners and friends have asked… if I hire a Google Analytics Consultant (like us), what kind of reports will I get? What do they look like? “We want something sexy.” I was advised by a very large web based distribution company.

Naturally, Clients will want to make the best choices when selecting an agency or Internet marketing company to service their analytics needs. Hiring a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant is a good starting place if you’re interested in implementing the now number one analytics package on the web, Google Analytics. Internet Marketers will look at reference accounts and case studies, they will sometimes ask to meet the people.

The common thread in all of this is simple. Despite the continued virtualization of our world, even, or especially, Internet marketers want to SEE what they are buying –and rightly so. An enterprise implementation of an analytics package requires the focused effort of a team of professionals that are high in demand. Large, complex analytics implementations are costly (fortunately Google Analytics is still free).

But here is the challenge… what you see up front is reporting, what you are buying if you are working with an expert and professional is analytics.

We define the difference as the former is a screen or an email that tells you the “news” or what happened at some point in time. This data typically ranges in value from interesting to proactive, to inspiring. Some of it is in fact useless.

The process for creating these reports that provide actionable value, and inspecting the website, user interface design, offers, creative, use of rich media, linking strategies and navigation (for starters) and then using that data to make decisions about what report ought to be created… is what we refer to as “Analytics.”

To be fair, reports are one product of the web analytics process. The ultimate value and reason for engaging in web analytics however is in the results that can be achieved through modifying the site to solve problems that analytics reports uncover, and opportunities to increase conversion, or whatever the consumer behavior of economic value is on your website.

Internet Marketing has become exceedingly competitive. The cost of media and search advertising for example has climbed and is approaching it’s natural ceiling. Even today, search advertising appears to be fairly recession proof given many search marketers are seeing very healthy ROI’s on their search ad spend.

This all means one thing… the process of optimizing to capitalize on every opportunity, and plug every hole in your website (“analytics”) isn’t optional anymore –its a requisite… you have to do it, or risk being outperformed, and out converted by your competitors… this will allow higher performing sites to outspend the laggards in search and other forms of targeted and high value media.

I don’t know if I would call what we can do as web analytics professionals “sexy” –but the results a focused analytics program produces are often nothing short of breath taking.