It's 3p.m. Do you know where your Web analytics are?

If you're doing any kind of online marketing, it's crucial that you have access to your analytics to be able to measure and learn. Often, businesses don't even realize that they can't access or decipher those analytics until we start poking around. How could that be? Here are six ways it happens and what you can do about it.

Scenario #1: Don't Ask, Don't Get

So your site is running Web analytics, but you's barely know it since you only receive sporadic reporting from your marketing partner. Or worse, you don't receive reporting at all unless you ask, and when you do it's an unformatted, unanalyzed data dump. Unless you plan on boning up on your web analytics technical skills, it may be time to consider another resource. Your Web analytics analysis should tell you stories: about what's working, what's not, how close or how far you are from your objectives and what those spikes or anomalies in your data sets really mean. If your current provider isn't delivering that, time to look elsewhere.

Scenario #2: Analytics Held Hostage

You just reviewed your monthly P&L and certain dips in online revenue areas have you concerned. You need to gather information immediately, but you can't view your reports directly because you've never been given log-in information. You don't own your own data.

Don't let this happen to you! Even if you like the idea of outsourcing your reporting and analysis, be sure you always get the administrator rights to your account.

Scenario #3: Unqualified Technicians

Your analytics were implemented by a third-party or an internal IT department, and you think everything is hunky-dory because you are receiving regular reporting. An attempt at a deeper dive however, reveals the software or code was improperly set-up. The data is inaccurate, conflicting or even missing. Maybe multiple versions of analytics code on the same page led to double-counting of website traffic. Or, analytics "goals," were set up but actually have nothing to do with key performance indicators. So all your data is irrelevant.

Audit your analytics to root out improper or inadequate software set-up and to ensure that you can feel confident in the report data you're receiving.

Scenario #4: IT-in-the-Way

I don't mean to bash IT, but if you're a busy company with finite internal IT resources and your digital marketing analysis relies on fast implementation or fixes by IT, you might wind up waiting a lot longer than you care to. In fact, since IT spends the better portion of its time putting out fires or handling individual user requests, your campaign might be over by the time IT gets around to your request.

To avoid this problem, include IT on your planning and start early. Treat IT well and thank them for their help--they're your ally, not your enemy.

Scenario #5: Fear Trumps Data

Your COO just met with a big-name vendor who enlightened him that "social media is the way of the world." The COO calls the marketing director and demands the company move ahead immediately on a project to implement Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Meanwhile, for the past three months, a team of mid-level managers in the marketing department has already conducted extensive market research and data analysis to determine that social media should not be your main focus. Rather than piss off the COO, the marketing director trashes three months of solid research.

Solutions? Nurture a culture of testing marketing ideas and one that empowers people at all levels to speak-out when a radical marketing shift could hamper business objectives. Otherwise, you could end up trying to show the value of friends or fans for the next six months instead of driving real revenue through proven tactics.

Scenario #6: Set-It-and-Forgot-It

You launched your Web analytics two years ago, but you really haven't revisited your set-up since then. Think for a minute how much about digital marketing has changed in just two years. What about mobile access? Is your Facebook page cannibalizing your website traffic? What else has changed? The worst thing to do with your Web analytics is nothing--or to fall back on your initial analysis points. You know the marketing world is evolving fast. So should your analytics.