Introduction

Web analytics are crucial to today’s digital marketing strategies. Web analytics don’t just help you track and measure website traffic and pageviews, but also other online channels, including social media, video, and mobile. As marketers adopt an omni-channel approach it’s important to understand the relationship between each channel and how they contribute to your website traffic and conversions.

Businesses have the ability to access more data than ever; a company’s web analytics now include:* Social media marketing* Search engine optimization* A/B testing* Retargeting campaigns* Display advertising optimization* Email and marketing automation* Mobile website and application tracking

Research indicates companies who have adopted a data-driven culture are the most successful. 76 percent of executives from top-performing companies cite data collection as very important or essential, and data-driven companies are three times more likely to rate themselves as substantially ahead of their peers in financial performance.1

Tracking, monitoring, and analyzing website performance provides data that shows where your business is headed, how it got there, and what changes are necessary to improve performance. A good web analytics platform will help you learn what’s working for your business — and what’s not.

The purpose of web analytics software is to track and collect information about traffic and usage patterns on your website and other online channels. Because the field has evolved to include interactions beyond website usage — such as social media and mobile applications — this technology is often referred to digital analytics software.

Web analytics software helps you measure the impact of marketing efforts across multiple channels. By collecting performance data, you can gather insights about customer behavior and predict future actions, which enables you to invest resources in channels or marketing activities which generate the greatest return. Essentially, web analytics software is a tool used to assess and improve the effectiveness of your website.

Web Analytics Software Comparison

If you’re not sure what to look for, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you perform a web analytics software comparison. Web analytics systems are all essentially designed to do the same job, so differentiating between platforms can be a challenge.

It’s important to begin any technology purchase with a clear understanding of what you need the software to do. Questions to answer before you evaluate web analytics tools include:

  • Why do you need a new or different tool?
  • What’s missing from your current system?
  • What type of data do you need from a web analytics system?
  • How, specifically, will you use the web data to inform decisions and drive activities?

More data doesn’t necessarily equate to a better system. The best web analytics software provides you with data that is valuable to your business. You need to identify specific holes in your current reporting that a new system will fill. Most importantly, ensure extra information will drive better decisions — and ultimately, more revenue for your business. Don’t just track vanity metrics.

After you’ve identified what goals you have for a new web analytics deployment, you’ll need to learn what features or functionality will help you achieve them.

2 Types of Web Analytics Software

Off-site

Off-site web analytics measure a website’s potential audience (opportunity), market share (visibility), and buzz (comments/social media mentions) that is happening on the Internet as a whole. Off-site reports analyze and quantify the effect of social or other media on business goals and conversions; they help you understand how to market your site by identifying the keywords tagged to your domain, either from social media or other websites. Through dashboards, you can track which social media communities or users are engaged, what campaigns prompt web interactions and social sharing, and which social networks or websites help bring traffic back to your site.

On-site

On-site web analytics track and analyze a visitor’s behavior once they’re on your website, including drivers and conversions. For example, on-site reports can show which landing pages lead to online purchases, or other methods of measuring the performance of your website. This information is used to optimize or improve a website or marketing campaign’s audience response.

Both types of web analytics tools automate the process of measuring these activities across multiple channels, and most vendors now provide a hybrid approach. Combining on-site and off-site metrics provides a more complete view of what’s driving desirable customer actions, which allows you to optimize your efforts and justify spending.

Web Analytics Software Features Comparison

Multi-channel Attribution

Multi-channel Attribution** helps marketers understand conversion paths (advertising, social, search) by channel and over time in order to optimize budget and resource allocation.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking or competitive intelligence, lets marketers compare their performance (clickthrough rates, time on site, average order value, and digital campaign effectiveness) against aggregated performance data from competitors. Benchmarking is particularly useful to understand market conditions and shifts in consumer behavior.

A/B and multivariate testing

A/B and multivariate testing is designed to improve the customer experience and increase ROI by creating alternative pages to determine which performs best.

Clickstream analysis

Clickstream analysis is the ability to collect, analyze, and report the route a visitor chose when clicking or navigating through a website. It shows when and where a person came in to your site, the pages viewed, the time spent on each page, and when and where they left. This data answers questions such as “What are people who enter my site with specific search terms doing when they get there?”

Tag management

Tag management is used to simplify the process of placing tag code on your website. Tags are snippets of code which enable 3rd-party tracking, analysis, and reporting. Managing and updating tags can be tedious, tag managers allow you to change codes and update your marketing strategy without the help of IT.

Voice of Customer

Voice of Customer uses multiple technologies to capture, store and analyze direct, indirect, and inferred customer feedback. It provides a holistic view of the what customers think or feel.

Additional Features:

  • Advertising campaign performance* Mobile advertising measurement* Remarketing* Dashboards, custom reports, real-time reporting* Audience data and reporting* Flow visualization* Traffic sources and social reports* Cross-device / platform measurement* Attribution model comparison tool* Data-driven attribution* Ecommerce reporting* Goal flow and multi-channel funnels* Event tracking* In-page analytics* Site search* Site-speed analysis* Social media, mobile, third party integration* Data storage and collection

Common Applications

Web analytics are the backbone of a successful digital marketing plan. They provide businesses with the ability to track, measure, and act upon the results of their website, social media marketing efforts, and other campaigns. All business types and sizes can benefit from web analytics software. Though enterprises often require more powerful tools than smaller businesses, the use cases for web analytics are essentially the same. Let’s examine what some of them are.

Gain a better understanding of your audience.

Your customers are everywhere; web analytics tools can show you where they come from geographically and how they found your site (email, search engine). You can also track devices, browsers, videos, and operating systems. All of this data helps you trace the customer path, learn about your audience, and then refine your content, site design, and marketing efforts to match their preferences.

Act on your data.

Web analytics lets you turn data into insights about your customers. You can use benchmarks, content analysis, and campaign monitoring to test, adjust, and optimize. Then, quickly share your findings with others in the organization so everyone is on the same page.

Convert your prospects.

Since web analytics lets you view what ads users clicked, videos they watched, and pages they viewed, you can see every action that led to a sale, in chronological order. You then have a measurable way to improve your website and campaigns to convert more users, and you can encourage the users to follow paths that are most likely to lead to a sale. You can also optimize user behaviors by correlating your marketing and social resources to funnel traffic to the highest performing pages.

Monitor site performance and usability.

Web analytics tools can show you page load times and help you identify if some pages, devices, or traffic sources are slower than others. This data can help you improve load times and pinpoint problems area to optimize.

Measure your effectiveness.

Most importantly, web analytics software can be used to measure how successful your website, social media, ad campaigns, and content are at their job. If your landing pages aren’t converting, then you can test and optimize them — but you must know that they aren’t converting in the first place. By tracking and monitoring your efforts with web analytics, you can discontinue, change, or otherwise refine your strategies based on facts.

Creating Executive Buy-In

Gaining buy-in from executives is a critical success factor for software approval and implementation. In order to get your software purchase approved, you’ll need to include data that shows stakeholders what kind of return on investment they can expect.

To do this, you can present industry research, statistics, or relevant case studies like the one below. Additionally, consider tailoring your appeal to address the concerns of each member of the C-suite. Below are a few talking points to get you started.

CFO

Your chief financial officer is likely already using tools to gather and assess company data. Use this opportunity to provide them with research on the correlation between web analytics software and successful campaigns or businesses. Highlight exactly how this technology will provide a return on investment, and don’t be afraid to use data visualizations to illustrate your point.

CIO

Modern web analytics software means your IT leaders won’t have to spend weeks or months deploying tag codes. This technology can help free up IT resources by adding up to 100 on a website and up to 20 on a single page — that can be released within hours instead of days. Users say their ability to implement new or revised tags quickly (within days) jumped from 18 percent to 80 percent after deploying a tag management system, according to Forrester Research.2

Additionally, the CIO is in charge of aligning technology with company goals and strategy. It’s important to involve them in a conversation about new systems early in the research process. It’s important to discuss system requirements, and the CIO can help you pinpoint company needs and create a short list of viable vendors.

CEO

Businesses have access to more data than ever before. The trick is to ensure this data is actually helping CEOs make more informed decisions. You must help the leader of your company see how they can actually capitalize on their data. Focus on the tangible benefits of a system, such how the software will make an impact on the business and help employees be successful at their jobs.

To help you sell web analytics tools to executives, you can focus on getting a small proof of concept first. Many vendors offer free trials or versions of their product. Use that opportunity to run a low-cost beta project to demonstrate how your company can benefit from the technology.

Web Analytics Software Case Study

Company: Brian Gavin Diamonds3

Solution: Google Analytics Premium

Brian Gavin Diamonds is a Texas-based jeweler known for custom engagement rings and their signature line of cut “hearts and arrows” diamonds. Online sales are responsible for 95 percent of the company’s business, and the company relies on over-the-phone customer service to help influence those sales.

To prepare for a redesign of their ecommerce site, and to make informed decisions regarding its digital investments, the company needed to get a full picture of customer behavior across the purchasing funnel. They also wanted to drive customers to convert, and apply their customer insights to the new website.

Brian Gavin Diamonds implemented Enhanced Ecommerce from Google Analytics to understand their customers’ pre-purchase shopping behavior and measure their webiste performance. The company discovered they had a surprisingly high cart abandonment rate, so they decided to build a guest checkout flow specifically for customers who are on the cusp of making a purchase.

They also streamlined features to focus on ones that customers use the most. For example, they learned the live chat feature on the left hand navigation bar was taking up valuable site space, only providing 20 percent of the revenue associated with live chat, compared to 40 percent each for the live chat features at the top and right of the site.

Results:

  • Identified over $500K in lost revenue due to high cart abandonment rate
  • Increased checkout-to-payment page by 60 percent
  • Made improvements to site features for improved customer experience and conversions

Other Market-Leading Web Analytics Solutions

Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service, with a premium version which makes it suitable for small or enterprise businesses alike. It is the most widely used web analytics service on on the market. Google Analytics was the best software to meet the needs of Brian Gavin Diamonds, but another vendor may be best for your company’s unique requirements.

Browse more options by using our Web Analytics Product Selection Tool at the top of the page, or check out any of the below reviews of web analytics vendors.

KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg, Piwik, Woopra, StatCounter, MixPanel

Choosing the Best Web Analytics Software

At TechnologyAdvice, our goal is to help businesses connect with the technology that best meets their needs. We’ve compiled product information, reviews, case studies, feature lists, video walkthroughs, and research articles on hundreds of leading IT solutions, all to make the buying process more straightforward for decision makers like you.

If you’re curious about any of the web analytics products or features listed in this guide, we’d love to talk to you. Call one of our in-house specialists for a free consultation, or use the Product Selection Tool at the top of this page for a custom recommendation.


Sources
  1. Olavsrud, Thor. “Data-Driven Companies Outperform Competitors Financially.” CIO. March 19,2013. http://www.cio.com/article/2387460/business-intelligence/data-driven-companies-outperform-competitors-financially.html
  2. “Market Intelligence Report: Enterprise Web Analytics Tools 2013.” Digital Marketing Depot. Accessed June 3, 2015. http://downloads.digitalmarketingdepot.com/rs/thirddoormedia/images/mir_1307_wbanlytc13.pdf
  3. “Brian Gavin Diamonds Sees 60% Increase in Customer Checkout With Google Enhanced Ecommerce.” Google Analytics Case Study. Accessed June 3, 2015. http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en/us/analytics/customers/pdfs/brian-gavin.pdf
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