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Web Analytics Dives Deep Into a Sea of Data
A new report details how to better understand -- and, even more critical, how to apply -- Web analytics.
Posted Nov 28, 2007
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Web analytics has come a long way from its humble origins in hit counting. Today, the process can capture a vast range of data -- and the sheer breadth of all this information creates problems for companies who need to know just what to measure, how to transform measurement into customer conversion, and how to learn more about their end customers. "There's just so much data," explains Peter Johnson, vice president of research strategy for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), which has just released its first annual Web Analytics Report. "You can track everything -- but that's not a useful approach." The DMA's report, based on detailed input from 130 marketing organizations, hopes to enlighten companies on what elements of Web analytics they ought to employ for specific business goals, such as:
  • increasing sales;
  • improving customer loyalty; and
  • monitoring Web site usability.
Specifically, the DMA report contains Web analytics feature rankings (e.g., the disclosure that companies consider internal search tracking to be "extremely effective" for improving conversion rates) and is interspersed with explanations and commentary from direct marketing guru "Wandering" Dave Rhee. Eugenia Steingold, senior research manager for the DMA, explains that there are many different components to Web analytics, and that the Web Analytics Report deep-dives into over 20 specific metrics and tools, including:
  • hit reports;
  • browsing patterns;
  • online order volumes;
  • conversion rates; and
  • internal search results.
Steingold points out that both standalone and CRM-oriented Web analytics vendors deliver the goods from a functionality perspective, but that many companies are neglecting to incorporate these Web metrics into their sales and marketing strategies. "A lot of SVPs don't look at data as often as they should," Steingold points out. "You need the right people to collect and analyze data. You need to develop decision-making sensibilities so that you can adjust sales and marketing campaigns in response to real-time trends."
Johnson believes that it will take marketing organizations "another decade" to evolve beyond the status quo of campaign postmortems to a real-time model based on incoming feedback from online customer and prospect behavior. He adds that moving to this real-time, analytically driven marketing orientation can help adopters get much closer to their customers' actual needs and wants. Of course, this is only possible in the case of online customers, who still do not constitute a majority of all customers. For example, during this year's Cyber Monday (November 26), U.S. consumers bought $733 million worth of products and services online, according to online tracking firm ComScore. While this was a 21 percent improvement over Cyber Monday 2006, it is still less than a tenth of an average day's brick-and-mortar shopping activity. These figures indicate that Web analytics does not yet rival brick-and-mortar analytics in importance. However, given the National Retail Federation's estimates that online consumption is growing five times as fast as brick-and-mortar consumption, all marketing organizations would do well to incorporate Web analytics into their long-term planning.

Related articles: Analyzing the Analyzers: The Forrester Wave on Web Analytics Out of a field of eight Web analytics products, the latest Forrester Wave elevates five to the top category, a sign of how confusing things are for customers. Omniture Set to Acquire Visual Sciences The pool of Web analytics providers continues to shrink. Omniture and Salesforce.com Take a Meeting Integration of Web analytics and CRM targets improvement of B2B marketing and sales. Omniture Acquires and Discovers The business optimization vendor reveals signed plans to acquire behavioral targeting company Touch Clarity, and launches the Discover 2 customer analytics application. Analyzing Web Analytics for CRM DoubleClick's exit from the Web-analytics space will have lasting impact on the marketplaces. DoubleClick to Abandon Web Analytics A partnership with former rival Omniture will bring together clients of both companies. Salesforce.com, WebSideStory Partner to Provide Analytics The partnership creates an all-ASP marketing analysis solution. Feature: Analytics Brought to Bear How strength in numbers -- in this case, the analytics of customer data -- transforms sales teams into sales forces. Feature: E-commerce Best Practices Make Perfect CRM magazine presents what some of the best minds in the industry have to say. Re:Tooling: Tech Solution: Internet Marketing Solutions Business Problem: Marketers lack the ability to launch targeted, analytics-driven marketing campaigns online. The 5 Pain Points of E-Commerce At Shop.org's Annual Summit, one speaker rebuts the conventional wisdom that e-commerce has peaked, and reveals the "truths" about online marketing and how to fix them. Unica Merges Online With Offline The enterprise-marketing apps provider revealed plans to ship its Web-analytics application to track customer behavior everywhere. Coremetrics' Spring Fling The company releases Spring 2007, featuring Web 2.0 multichannel measurement, an upgrade that according to one analyst is fashionable for Web-analytics vendors. Coremetrics Acquires SurfAid Analytics; WebSideStory Analyzes Streaming Media The acquisition will create more vertically focused digital marketing solutions; the product upgrade will enable marketers to analyze the activity of a new set of visitor demographics. Making Better Use of Web Site Behavioral Data Marketers struggle with using Web-site clickstream behavior in email due in large part to lack of expertise, data overload, and integration issues. Leading Providers Team to Create Web Analytics Association Common vocabulary and government advocacy lead the agenda. WebTrends Engages Marketing Lab 2 Analytics vendor aims to give marketers deeper and more specific insight about customers, with new scoring, reporting, and integration technology. Instant Web Analytics: Just Add Genius A new on-demand tool delivers immediate information on what prospects are up to; one analyst says it will make campaigns more "personal and relevant." A NICE Way to Handle Cranky Holiday Calls As the shopping season approaches, retailers can expect disgruntled customers. A 2006 Online Holiday Spending Projection Thanks to convenience and consumer comfort with online shopping, a report states that this year's online holiday retail sales may touch $27 billion. Viewpoint: 'Tis the Season for Holiday Returns Seven tips for dealing with difficult customers. Getting Carded: An Early Holiday Sales Report Gift cards help retailers beat some holiday sales forecasts, with spending up 8.7 percent. Happy Holiday Marketing "You don't want to wait until next year to see what you should be changing." Shoppers Are Dreaming of a Multichannel Christmas Holiday consumers continue to prefer offline purchasing. Cyber Mondays, So Good to Marketers A new report stresses the importance of marketers understanding consumers' online purchasing habits -- the peaks and valleys -- between Thanksgiving and Christmas. E-Retail's Great Expectations A recent report reveals the best and worst retail Web sites evaluated by online shopping experiences. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday Web merchants are offering ways to lure in customers as online retail sales are expected to jump 25 percent this holiday season.
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