WebTrends, probably the best web analytics

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Content Copyright © 2006 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

In the last year I have looked a number of web analytics tools,
some of them have been good, some have been not so good, but now I
have seen what I consider to be the best yet, WebTrends. In
evaluating an offering I look at things that I would use when
building solutions in my other role as a consultant. As such I
rather dislike solutions that are overly complicated, seem to be
built to satisfy evaluation tick lists of features, and, whilst
visually impressive, for a quick display would be difficult to use
on a day to day basis. For me the best solutions are simple, clear,
and easy to deploy and use. It takes far more skill to keep it
simple than to swamp a solution with feature after feature. The
other thing that I look for is that the actual product is backed up
by real world expertise to help people to embed it into their
business and derive real profit. So, for me, the best products are
deceptively simple, have clean clear interfaces and are backed by
knowledgeable enthusiasts who really want to change the way you do
business. It is on this basis that I can say without reservation
that from what I have seen to date WebTrends leads the way in web

WebTrends is a solution targeted not at the IT department, like
an Oracle or an SAP, but at the creatives out in the business, at
the coalface generating profit. As the web has become increasingly
central to many organisations the web is no longer something which
can be left to the techies; it is the shop window by which such
companies will prosper or fall. As such just looking at how a web
site works, as a technical exercise detached from the customer and
their outcomes, is not enough. Web logs are only a small part of
the story. What is important is how do customers interact with a
site to produce profitable outcomes. It is the customer experience
that should be measured, not how well the web site works as a piece
of technology. That WebTrends is growing so quickly indicates that
they are getting to the heart of this issue, and finding that their
message resonates with ever increasing numbers of customers.

WebTrends are no newcomers to this market; they have been around
for some 12 years and have developed into a company of over 300,
serving over 4,000 enterprise customers. Significantly, they have
trained over 7,500 people how to use their tool to impact an
enterprise. They have a blue chip customer base of household names
throughout the major sectors such as Automotive, Finance, Telco,
Pharmaceuticals, Media and Retail.

Because they do not just sell a tool, but help people to use it
to tackle real world problems, the tool is remarkably concise,
clear and intuitive. People used to the standard Microsoft Outlook
type of display and good business analytics will find the interface
intuitive and the results clearly laid out. Because it is so clear
and because the guidance is there to help people realise how to
exploit it everyone should be able to achieve the sort of ROI that
is expected from any investment. So, armed with WebTrends it
becomes easy to see important things—like who are those who
are just failing to convert, and then target them to improve
conversions and build profitability.

Because WebTrends have a track record in this segment, they
understand what are the real issues, and also know how to do
something about them. So one of the strengths of WebTrends is the
work which they do to ensure that the results that you see are
accurate and are not artificially inflated or deflated by the
limitations of the available technology. They recognise that events
have to be tied together over time to produce a lifecycle, based
not on an individual visit but all of the visits which constitute a
transaction, and only then can you understand how your pages are
being used by your visitors and provide the insight to enable you
to optimise pages and visitors’ responses.

At the heart of web analytics is a need to uniquely and
correctly recognise visitors. This requires persistence in the item
used for identification, and requires that barriers to that
accuracy be understood and eliminated. By ensuring that visitors
are correctly identified it is then possible to obtain an accurate
picture of the funnel from browsing to purchasing. WebTrends shows
great strength in their understanding of how to manage this
process, and produce consistent and accurate figures. Because of
their real world experience they know that events can happen which
means that customers do not always enter the funnel where they
should, i.e. at the top, they might bookmark a point half way
through a process and, whilst many tools will throw these out, in
the real world these visitors are actually the most likely to
convert, so WebTrends pragmatically know you have to account for
them. It is this sort of practical experience that permeates
WebTrends and helps to set them apart from the majority of the

The product, even after being around for many years and being in
its 8th iteration, is far from the finished product: they are still
finding new ways to bring real value to bear. The Marketing
Warehouse is a good example of this. Most tools, including
WebTrends, offer both out of the box reporting and also access to
raw data; WebTrends offer a half-way house whereby the events which
are aggregated automatically can be analysed by segments which can
be user defined and then stored to be run at will, enabling new
insights to be specified without needing technical skills.

So, for me, WebTrends sets a benchmark; it is results focussed,
it is simple and elegant, it has a solid technical basis and is
supported by knowledgeable services, and it should be on a short
list when looking at web analytics.