Web analytics services and software have grown beyond simply reporting what page was clicked on and how long a visitor stayed there to offer more advanced functions that retailers seeking to increase online sales are finding indispensable.
Options from Coremetrics Inc. and others are enabling retailers to make site adjustments on the fly, manage online marketing campaigns and e-commerce initiatives, and even track use and customer satisfaction with on-site search engines and online customer service.
Web site analysis service provider Coremetrics earlier this month updated its service to offer new capabilities for analyzing results of online marketing campaigns, on-site search activity, more real-time reporting and a number of interface improvements to upgrade drill-down capabilities.
The company also launched a partnership with direct-marketing service provider Responsys Inc. to tie together e-mail marketing campaigns with site behavior data, such as shopping cart abandonment, as opposed to just purchase behavior.
Meanwhile, another hosted Web analytics service provider, WebSideStory Inc., floated its initial public offering of stock late last month and is expected to enhance its offerings as a result. Separately, WebTrends, part of NetIQ Corp., plans to update its WebTrends 7 On Demand service and Web Trends 7 software next quarter with a new set of conversion analytics designed to make it more cost-effective for retailers to turn site visits into sales.
Meanwhile, hosted business application service provider NetSuite Inc. announced last week a new Web site analytics service called NetCommerce Analytics as part of its NetSuite 10.0 service offering. The service provides analysis on a customer-by-customer or prospect-by-prospect basis.
Regional hardware retailer Northern Tool & Equipment Catalog Co. uses Coremetrics service for its NorthernTool.com site. Nathan Miller, the companys e-commerce marketing manager, described Coremetrics as his "e-commerce dashboard."
"Its up all day long, every day, monitoring every aspect of our Web site," said Miller in Burnsville, Minn. "It helps us to understand what items to promote and put out together. It helps us to reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts. We can monitor every button, every page, every part of the site."
The new version of Coremetrics includes new automated trending capabilities that will require fewer manual processes, according to Miller. "Itll make it easier to look at information, react to it and use it," he said.
Keyword analysis in this release is better as well, Miller said, with like search terms combined for better accuracy of reporting. "It gives merchandisers a better idea of demand," he said.
Analysis is also faster in this version, with results within 15 minutes of what is happening live on the site, said Miller. "We can take advantage of trends we spot today, rather than come in tomorrow and find out that yesterday was a great day," he said.
Online retailer Wine.com Inc. is due to launch a Web site redesign this week with several new departments, a new gift center and a corporate gift center. Having a partner such as Omniture Inc., whose SiteCatalyst service provides analysis of visitor traffic to the site, is indispensable, said Jay Shaffer, general manager of gift services at Wine.com.
"We can get almost-instant feedback on how the new sites performing," said Shaffer, adding that Wine.com will be able to use Omnitures data to optimize the site in time for the upcoming holiday season, when site traffic will multiply many times over.
In the past, the service quickly caught a number of minor problems on the site, such as an interface that was causing quantity to default to case rather than bottle, resulting in shopping cart abandonment spikes.
"They may sound like small, stupid things, but fixing them increases the overall shopping experience," said Shaffer in San Francisco.
Omniture tracks how marketing efforts translate into sales. When Shaffer promotes the Wine.com Gift Center this way, he can get a good sense of the effectiveness of the Gift Centers product mix.
"Omniture removes the uncertainty about the products Ive put in the Gift Center," Shaffer said.