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  • April 2, 2012

How to Evaluate and Choose the Right Web Analytics Tool

If you're not using a web analytics tool to inform and improve your digital marketing efforts, it's time to start. Information gathered through web analytics tools help marketers increase and retain website visitors, maximize revenues from advertising and eCommerce, improve click-through on email campaigns, increase search engine ranking, and measure attribution of user
activities to conversions. What are you waiting for?


The simplest form of web analytics is for monitoring website traffic to discover where visitors came from, what they did on the site, etc. More sophisticated web analytics tools can also calculate ROI based on campaign goals, provide more detailed information about users and their past behavior, and even monitor related user activities on social media sites that impact

Web analytics tools with varying capabilities are available at prices
ranging from free to tens of thousands of dollars. All of these tools provide web-based applications to analyze and gain insight into user behavior across different channels, including web properties, advertising, email, social and mobile. Choosing a web analytics tool depends on a marketer's specific requirements, level of sophistication and budget.  The tool must provide the appropriate
abstractions to categorize and present the important information (and hide
unnecessary details) in an intuitive, user-friendly and flexible manner.

The most widely used web analytics tools include Google Analytics, Adobe/Omniture Site Catalyst, IBM/Coremetrics and WebTrends. A comprehensive evaluation of these tools is available at http://web-analytics-review.toptenreviews.com, and below are the main categories used in this evaluation.


  • Features - Each web analytics program offers a variety of
    features to help you understand your website visitors better. This section
    offers a top level view of several features that will be useful in measuring
    your website traffic.
  • Traffic - Web analytics keep track of a large variety of
    very detailed information regarding who visits a website, what each visitor
    does on the site (what they click on, pages they view, etc.), and at what point
    they exit the website.
  • Referrals - According to the Web Analytics Association, a
    referrer is "the page URL that originally generated the request for the current
    page view or object." Essentially, this is where your guest came from
    immediately before arriving on your website.
  • Report Stat Intervals - Web traffic and other statistics are
    only useful if they are measurable, and that implies setting applicable date
    ranges. Whether you need yearly or monthly reports, or details down to the day
    or hour; it's important that your analytics provider is versatile with
    reporting dates and the accompanying stats.
  • Events - According to the Web Analytics Association, an
    event is "any logged or recorded action that has a specific date and time
    assigned to it by either the browser or server."
  • Visitor Details - Web analytics programs keep track of
    each visitor to your site. This information can be used to identify target
    audiences, develop campaigns, or learn what might work better to increase
    conversions. Detailed geographic information about where the visitor is
    accessing the website from is also available in most cases.
  • File Exporting - After you compile stacks of data, what
    do you do with it? Most web analytics programs offer a variety exporting
    options to meet your specific needs.
  • Tech Support/Help - Web analytics solutions can be very complex.
    Choosing which one to use on your site is only the first of many steps, so look
    for a solution that offers product support for a period of time following the
    initial purchase.

Acquiring the right web analytics tool will have a huge impact on the success of a
company's digital marketing initiatives. By considering the above
categories and carefully evaluating various web analytics tools, a marketer can obtain
a user-friendly and affordable tool that provides comprehensive insight into
user behavior across a number of digital marketing channels.

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