Chart your Web site's success
Four Web analytics solutions deliver deep analysis of site performance
Because there are 180,000 report permutations, saving and sharing your work is crucial. I had no trouble bookmarking my custom analysis and adding it to a dashboard. Moreover, I created real-time gauges based on sales thresholds. You can use gauges to quickly refer to a “balanced scorecard” view of site performance and the effect of actions. The system also e-mails alerts when limits are crossed and allows you to roll up information into company-level dashboards suitable for executives.
Another common e-commerce need, building conversion funnels, requires little more than dragging and dropping pages into a report template. What’s nice is that you can compare performance over time or look at data from other dimensions without creating variables or performing other implementation work.
SiteCatalyst held up well in noncommerce activities, too. I used the same drag-and-drop interface to monitor e-mail responses, including seminar registration. If you want more precision -- for example, to monitor individual press releases -- you can create custom variables for those pages.
SiteCatalyst integrates well with Microsoft Excel using a direct ODBC connection. This allows a financial analyst to have information about each day’s site revenue automatically loaded in a spreadsheet, freeing them from having to log in to SiteCatalyst. The same process allows you to join data from offline sources, such as billboards and direct mail, with Web performance to get an overall picture of marketing effectiveness.
Although not unique, this product’s click map overlay -- an Internet Explorer plug-in that transposes data onto the Web page -- will prove useful to content producers. It quickly told me how many people clicked on links and their relative importance. You can also see how many orders come linked and the conversion rate.
Omniture SiteCatalyst 11 is very accessible to nonexperts. Reports are available from the Windows Start menu or Excel. Plus, site and data from other sources is revealed in enhanced dashboards, giving executives an inclusive view of business activities. The system’s segmentation and cross-sell features are well done, so users don’t have to spend a lot of time analyzing data. Rather, they can quickly spot problems and make corrections.
WebSideStory HBX On-Demand Web Analytics 2.5
Based on the number of enterprise customers, WebSideStory is the largest hosted analytics provider and the first of the pure-play vendors to go public. HBX On-Demand Web Analytics, which captures and reports online visitor and customer activities, is a big part of that success. Although there’s danger of not adequately serving these diverse reporting needs (and indeed the product has fallen behind competitors on occasion), Version 2.5 has few failings.
Managers logging in to the HBX service first see dashboards with easy-to-read gauges that measure banner ads, keywords, and other digital marketing KPIs (key performance indicators). It’s just as easy for Web developers to implement tracking tags and for marketers to use other parts of the application. So you get the benefit of powerful analytics but in an uncomplicated form.
Because a lot of enterprise clients rely on WebSideStory for content analysis, I began my test by analyzing how visitors navigated my site. A highly customized funnel allowed me to specify page flows and even the specific form field where people abandon a process, such as a seminar registration. Additionally, HBX’s special Event Sequence query allowed me to quickly examine the entry and exit points for pages, along with the referral source for those pages.