11 September 2006

What the hell is web analytics?

Web analytics is a cornerstone in not only measuring the success of your site, but in generating future revenue through your site. Gauging the amount of traffic entering and exiting your site and understanding the current trends on your site is something no marketer can afford to ignore.

One of our larger hosting clients is currently running a viral marketing campaign. After analysing their stats we found that of the visitors attracted to the competition, more visitors were leaving the web site than entering the competition. A quick change to the copy and these figures started improving... Without a good analytical tool, this could not have been achieved.

Strategically Improving Web Site Traffic
Some more info on the types of analytics tools:

First Generation:
The first generation of web analytics technology is based on log-file analysis. Log-files are a histor of all interactions with the website. These applications analyse the log-files to produce the web statistics. The main difference between applications competing in this arena is the actual report. The raw data is very similar.

Second Generation:
The second generation of web analytics tools can provide more information as tracking codes (usually JavaScript) are inserted into the pages of a website. The ‘tagging’ of web sites provides a more comprehensive and detailed set of statistics. The shortfall is that the ‘tag’ has to be inserted on every page. Every time a site is modified or added to, these ‘tags’ need to be updated. This can prove to be very resource intensive. The other downfall of these tools is that they are often run by third-party websites. This adds another dependency to the accuracy of the stats. If this solution is implemented correctly and accurately, it will provide figures that are more accurate than first generation solutions.

Third Generation:
The third generation of tools specialize in sophisticated visitor tracking through the use of cookies and session keys. Along with the existing visitor database, analytics can be performed on the various customer segments.

Whichever solution you choose for your site, be sure to spend enough time getting to know your visitors...