Log files are intellectual property! It’s a pretty strong statement, but it is intended to emphasize that there is tremendous value and information within them. Therefore, they should be treated as a form of corporate intelligence.
When subjected to good Web analytics best practices, log files can provide much insight to what the visitors to your site are looking for, how they found it, when they were requesting it, etc. For many companies, non-profit organizations, government departments and so on, their Web site is the number one channel for which clients and potential clients consume information. We work with clients that range from thousands of visits to millions of visits on a monthly basis to their Web site. Now, imagine if your organization had 200,000 visits come through the front door and you were able to ask them a few fundamental questions.
1. How did you find us?
2. What are you looking for?
3. Have you been here before?
First off, while it wouldn’t be ‘impossible’ to ask those questions to 200,000 people walking through your door every month, it would be extremely challenging. Secondly, the people visiting may provide you with answers not necessarily reflective of the truth for more than one reason. Thirdly, your log files can provide this information for you so why bother going through the hassle and expense of disturbing your clientele!
While this may seem trivial, having answers to the above three questions for every visit to your office would be incredible amounts of information. You’d be able to understand what marketing initiatives are working, how many people actually ‘know’ about your brand, if your partnerships referring people to you, and so forth. On top of these fairly simple three questions, there are hundreds of other questions which can be answered through log file analysis to support your corporate goals.
In short, you’ve got people visiting your site whose actions are helping answer questions for which you need answers to make the right business decisions. Log files can be key to many of those answers in one of the most non-invasive forms possible; they provide corporate intelligence and should be treated as such. Log files are intellectual property!
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