Selecting a web analytics tool

There has been consolidation of web analytics tools, such that there is now basic choice of a free service such as Google Analytics or Yahoo! Analytics or paid services from the main providers such as Omniture (owned by Adobe Systems), Coremetrics (owned by IBM) and WebTrends which may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for a popular site. All will report similar measures for digital marketing activity. Often the selection of best system will depend on factors as such:

  • Integration with other data sources (for example, social media marketing, customer data and financial reporting). Types of data that need to be integrated include: operational data, tactical and strategic data.
  • Accuracy. Potential sources of inaccuracy are: traditional log file analysis and more common browser-based or tag-based measurement system that record access to web pages every time a page is loaded into a user’s web browser through running a short script, program or tag inserted into the web page. The key benefit if the browser-based approach is that is it potentially more accurate than server-based approaches. The free version of Google Analytics uses sampling on large sites which can decrease inaccuracy.
  • Media attribution. ‘Last-click wins’ model of attributing a referral source to sale is inaccurate. Weighted models based on the whole customer journey are more accurate. The capability of analytics system to display this is important for companies investing a lot in online media.
  • Visualisation. How data are displayed through reports and alerts. Vendors continuously introduce new features in this area.
  • Customisation facilities. For creating and distributing new reports and alerts.
  • Support services. For configuration of data feeds and reports or consulting to assist in auctioning the results. In 2011 the free service of Google Analytics introduced a premium version for large corporate customers which included account management.
  • Privacy considerations. Web analytics systems store personal data. It is important that data collection and disclosure about the method for collecting by the system follow the latest laws about use of cookies.

Strategic data

Performance management systems for senior managers will give the big picture presented as scorecards or dashboards showing trends in contribution of digital channels to the organisation in terms of sales, revenue and profitability for different products.

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