Are Sales Letter Traffic Stats Misleading?

Have you ever wondered why sales letters selling traffic increasing products (both software and ebooks) are always able to show you screen prints from their own sites with huge amounts of traffic? Well one of the reasons lie in the type of software they’re using to monitor the traffic.

To make this a bit clearer I’ve taken my website and taken the stats from September 2008 and visualized it using Awstats, Webalizer and Google Analytics.

Now I have to be honest with you and tell you that I have no clue which of these programs that shows the correct numbers but I do know that the stats from Google Analytics tend to match the stats from Google Adsense (obviously!!). Not that the Adsense counter is necessarily right, but I tend to think that it is more accurate. But you can judge. Here are the stats (click on the image to see full size):

Google Analytics



So if you were selling a product that was to increase traffic, what program would you use to show stats?

  • Google showing 1,986 visits (5,018 pageviews)
  • Awstats showing 4,849 visits (17,549 pageviews)
  • Webalizer showing 7,284 visits (94,852 pageviews)
  • Again let me tell you that I don’t know what is right and what is wrong but I do know that it is obvious why most sales letters show Awstats and Webalizer numbers instead of the numbers from Analytics.


    1. skriver

      I think that waht Google Analytics calls “Visits” is what AWstats calls “Unique visitors”…
      Google Analytics can filter your own visits when you are logged in I guess – to my knbowledge AWstats don’t do this.

      Not that you point is wrong – it still a BIG difference (but not quite as big as 4,849 vs. 1,986). 🙂

    2. Mikael skriver

      Christian, like you I don’t know much about Awstats, but Analytics has “”Absolute Unique Visitors” which one could assume were the same as Awstats “uniques”.

      But yes it is a huge difference and especially compared to Webalizer.

    3. skriver

      Here’s an old report from 2007, comparing some of the enterprise web analytics solutions to each other, and explaining what’s what:

      Although a lot has happened in the world of analytics since then, it’s still worth a read if you are into that kind of stuff.

      I haven’t worked with AWstats or Webalizer in years, but aren’t they based on log files analysis?

      Because then they have a huge flaw that could explain the difference in numbers: They are not able to discount bots, whereas GA is.

    4. Mikael skriver

      Thanks Søren, I’ll give it a read. I do believe though that at least Awstats should only show visits from humans and not bots.

    5. skriver

      Ah, I see.

      The only thing I can add is that once not long ago I did a comparison of Google Analytics vs. IndexTools. And they both came pretty close to reporting the same figures, especially when looking at something as “universal” as a PageView.

      In my eyes there’s something wrong with the way you’ve implemented your tracking. Otherwise the figures wouldn’t be that far off.

      But which of the 3 tools it is that is not properly implemented is pretty impossible for me to tell, I’m afraid.

    6. Mikael skriver

      Søren, as we discussed in our emails I think we can agree that GA is probably the most accurate of these three tools. One thing that could argue that GA’s numbers are too low is that the automatic translation tool that I have on the site doesn’t copy GA’s code and will therefore not count in the statistics.

      I don’t know if it came through okay but my whole point was to show everyone that the stats you often see in sales letters are probably far too high and thereby somewhat misleading.

    7. skriver

      I use Cystats on my WordPress site. The numbers are always lower – sometimes over 1/2 as many as AWStats and Google say. I’ve been wondering which is correct myself.

      I worked with AWStats way back when. A friend of mine was hosting my site on a home-brewed server. There is a setting to block you from being counted by setting an IP address. That said, when I moved to a regular host that had AWStats, I’ve never been able to get that working, and since then, I’ve forgotten exactly what you do. I believe you have to have access to the AWStats dir on your host.

      Anyhow, interesting article.

    8. Mikael skriver

      Hi Shawn, thank you for your comment. Even though I might not be blocked from the Awstats, I’m pretty sure that my visits alone is not what makes up the difference 🙂

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