Web analytics seem to be as old as the Internet itself. And don’t get me wrong, they have proven useful, and still continue to do so, even with today’s ever-advancing online technologies. But all too often I see marketers leaning on web analytics to not only answer questions, but to make decisions about what their customers want and need.

While analytics will never become fully obsolete, it’s time marketers wake up and realize that going beyond analytics, and turning that data into action, is how their marketing funnels -- and customer experiences -- are going to truly evolve.

1. Analytics cannot provide actionable solutions

Whether it’s discovering that your shopping cart funnel abandonment rate is sky-high, or your mobile ads just aren’t getting the clicks you need to sustain any sort of ROI, analytics are useful for helping you find your digital pain points. While this is a necessary step in creating a plan to solve these issues, your analytics, well, can’t help you actually solve them.

Take, for instance, a marketer whose analytics tell him that his homepage bounce rates are astronomical. The logical next step may be to redesign the homepage. But without actually testing what exactly visitors are negatively reacting to, or not reacting to, he will never know what really needs to change to get bounce rates under control. But through A/B and multivariate testing, brands can take action to moving customers through the marketing funnel by knowing what works and what doesn’t for their live audience.

2. Analytics cannot personalize customer experiences

In a world of declining margins and increasing customer fragmentation, the pressure is on brands to attain far more value from the online channel. Companies can no longer be satisfied by 3% conversion rates from acquisition activity, nor should they settle for one-off transactions.

Analytics, while serving as a pinpoint to customer purchases, reactions, drop-offs or returns, will never be able to provide advanced personalization techniques based on consumers’ characteristics, behavior and interaction history. Using personalization techniques such as behavioral targeting, segmentation and product recommendations complement acquisition and retention strategies with highly targeted online content. Not only will this help develop brand loyalty, it will also create a highly engaged customer base that transacts repeatedly.

3. Analytics cannot take the conversation across channels

How does your brand look across channels? Is it 100% consistent, optimized and personalized? Gone are the days of consumers only touching your brand through a brick-and-mortar store and your website. The world has gone mobile, social media has changed interactions forever, and tablets are the wave of the future. Let’s face it: The sheer amount of data (aka multichannel analytics) marketers are dealing with these days is overwhelming. But it also presents a golden opportunity -- one that analytics are only at the tipping-point of.

Testing, personalizing and combining customer experiences across mobile, social media and email are becoming crucial to sustaining long-term engagement with a very savvy, very social and very mobile consumer. Your analytics can paint a picture of consumer behavior, but joining this data up to more accurately predict a customer’s next interest and then following up accordingly, no matter the channel, is a much bigger job.

All too often site content, design and targets are run by personal opinions and consensus. But as marketers, we can no longer rely on opinions -- we have to use data-driven evidence. After all, the only opinions that count are those of our customers. So use analytics as an information gateway, but don’t rely on it to improve customer experiences across channels -- leave that to the testing and personalization experts.

Editor's Note: Check out Ashley Eckel's other articles: 5 Reasons Doubling Conversions is More Important than Doubling Traffic and The Five Types of Online Shoppers Ruling Holiday Retail.

Image Courtesy of Ivelin Radkov (Shutterstock)