“You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure” is an old adage most of us may have come across. Senior level executives and managers always ask for right data to make management decisions. Right data is hard to find, but fortunately in today’s e-commerce world, web analytic tools are making life easy to find the right kind of data. The next challenge would be to choose the right kind of web analytic tool, which would give a good return on investment to make great decisions based on the right data at the right time.
A lot of information is available on the internet on how to buy the best tool to perform web analysis. We have websites like About Analytics and Ideal Observer which can determine which particular tool would be better for a particular application. In general Abobe Site catalyst and Google Analytics lead the pack for enterprise and medium retail businesses respectively.
Google Analytics continues to gain new customers because it is free and is very easy to implement and has a good functionality. Many companies do not require any more functionality than what Google Analytics offers and should get the job done. However some companies require extra integration, data control, ad-hoc reporting or unique visitor tracking that Webtrends or Site Catalyst can offer. Google Analytics is free but often requires more professional service to accomplish the same analysis that which can also be performed with SiteCatalyst (Adobe Product) and Webtrends. It reminds me of the famous saying “You get what you pay for!“.
In this regard, Omniture (now currently Adobe) really was in a way very disruptive in the field of web analytics and it left Webtrends, which once (before 2005) led the market, behind and is still catching up to Abode. Abode offers great underlying architecture and reports that greatly integrate with the user interface (UI). I have not had the pleasure of using the Site catalyst personally yet but a fellow student, an analyst showed me its UI, which looked very advanced (with 3D mapping etc) compared to Google Analytics with which I have some familiarity.
When comparing product functionality, checklists offer the most visual differentiation. Some companies have created almost 500 criteria to compare tools and some companies have considered very few aspects when comparing tools before they a make a decision to buy one.
Web Analytics is not all about data collection and different analysis tools and application, but also about human resources available to use the tools and analyze the data. An efficient Return on Investment (ROI) will be, if one budgets 20% on tool and 80% on human resources. In other words, a cheap tool and a really experienced powerful analyst will result in greater ROI than a powerful tool and a not so great an analyst.
Ultimately, we want to use web analytics tool to optimize web sites to ensure that they deliver value, and we make necessary site changes as we learn about deficiencies through our analysis. But that brings many other tools into the equation such as data warehousing, A/B testing tools, campaign management and so on. Consequently, one has to consider how well these three tools play with other vendors and how complete and integrated their offerings would be when considering the entire infrastructure.
In the end, the tool selected should be able to streamline one’s core business data to be efficiently managed based on how the customer is going to use your website. Best of Luck on choosing the right one!