MarTech Landscape: What Is Web Analytics Software?
The foundation of a good digital marketing strategy still rests on collecting, analyzing and reporting on website data.
Note: This is part of our Martech Landscape series, which will look at various marketing technology platforms over the coming months.
For marketers, the term “analytics” now has many qualifiers, thanks to the rapid evolution of marketing technology. There are tools to measure social analytics, mobile analytics, descriptive analytics, Web analytics, call analytics, real-time analytics, predictive analytics and more. All of these are conveniently wrapped up into broader terms such as “digital analytics” or “marketing analytics.”
But the foundation of any good digital marketing strategy still rests on collecting, analyzing and reporting on website data. Who’s coming to your website? How did they find it? What are they doing when they get there? Are visitors doing what you want them to do — and if not, how can you improve the user experience?
How can you establish and collect the right metrics to improve the overall customer experience to drive more business? It all starts with Web analytics.
What Is Web Analytics Software?
In its early iteration, Web analytics software measured clickstream, providing basic information on website traffic. Often, this information had to be translated by the IT department for the marketing team, and it focused on basic metrics like page views, clicks, time on site and bounce rates. Today’s Web analytics tools have become much more marketer-friendly, incorporating user-friendly dashboards and a wide array of data.
Virtually all comprehensive Web analytics platforms available today offer a core set of capabilities that focus on:
- Individual-level website data collection and storage
- Multichannel attribution and/or funnels
- Integrated mobile and social metrics
- Standard and customized reporting
The platforms begin to differentiate by offering more advanced capabilities, often requiring additional investment, that include but are not limited to:
- Built-in tag management
- Flexible APIs and/or cloud access
- Testing (A/B and multivariate)
- Role-based or customizable dashboards
- Benchmarking or competitive intelligence
Why Do I Need Web Analytics Software? What Are The Benefits Of Using It?
Unless your business is primarily an offline business, it’s pretty hard these days to manage a website without having some form of analytics software running in the background. Whether it’s a free tool like Google Analytics or an enterprise-level suite, Web analytics software delivers the data to help you better understand your online visitors and deliver what they need.
The benefits of using Web analytics software are many, including the ability to:
- Develop actionable insights that everyone in the organization can follow, thanks to software that is geared less toward the IT department and more towards multi-departmental users
- Harness real-time analytics to be quicker to adapt and improve campaigns
- Better understand user demographics (e.g., geographic, devices, social network)
- Track on-site behavior to gain insight into which channels and navigation paths perform well
- Better monitor site performance (load time, usability)
- Measure marketing effectiveness via campaign and conversion tracking
What Questions Should You Ask Before Selecting A Web Analytics Software Tool?
OK, so you need a new tool or want to re-evaluate your current Web analytics software. Start with some questions for your own organization:
- What website data do we need, and how will we use this data to improve our business?
- Which capabilities are must-haves for us? What can we live without?
- Who will use this software, and are they capable of taking on a new tool?
- Do we have analysts on board who can correctly interpret the data?
- Are we currently using other systems that need to integrate with our Web analytics software?
- Or are we currently using several smaller tools that can be consolidated into a new platform? If so, what happens to that existing data?
- How will we know that we’ve adopted the right software? How will we measure success?
The most important thing going into any new software evaluation is to understand what data you need, how the software will deliver that data and — most importantly — how you will use that data to drive your business. Additional bells and whistles might be tempting but can also be distracting and can easily drive up your overall budget.
Finally, when it comes time to interview vendors, the questions are the same as for most software adoptions. Your business’ Web analytic needs will be specific to your company, but here are some more general questions not to be missed:
- What makes your analytics tool technically unique from others?
- What kind of training and support is included? Will we have a day-to-day contact?
- Can you estimate our total cost of ownership?
- Do you have other companies like ours who are already using your tool (and may we speak to them for a reference)?
- Are there any types of companies that this software wouldn’t be appropriate for?
- What is on the product roadmap for the next year?
Like any other software adoption, make sure the vendor can show you the answers to questions about how the software works, not just tell you. A good demo is one that does just that — demonstrates how the tool works. Ideally, see if you can have a trial period or have access to a test version of the software.
Who Are Some Of The Companies That Provide Web Analytics Software?
There are a range of options when it comes to Web analytics software, from freeware to full-blown digital suites and platforms.
Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape 2015 lists more than 60 Web and mobile analytics companies.
MarketingLand’s sister site, Digital Marketing Depot, has published a report, Enterprise Web Analytics Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide, which includes profiles of the following companies: Adobe Analytics, AT Internet, comScore Digital Analytix, Google Analytics, IBM Digital Analytics Suite, Webtrekk, Webtrends.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.