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August 02, 2017

Tips for Choosing the Best Web Analytics Tools

By Special Guest
Robert Cordray, Community Contributor

Every business that has an online presence should already be using Web analytics tools. Information gathered through these tools will help you increase and retain site visitors, improve click-through on your email campaigns, measure attribution of user actions to conversions, increase search engine ranking, and maximize earnings from e-commerce and advertising.

Various Web analytics tools with diverse capabilities exist at different prices. All these tools offer Web-based applications to help analyze and gain acumen into user behavior across multiple channels. Choosing the best Web analytics tools highly depends on the marketer's specific requirements, budget, and level of sophistication. The tools must offer suitable abstractions to classify and present the relevant data (and hide non-essential information) in a user-friendly, intuitive, and flexible manner.

Problems that emerge after installation are not usually the fault of the analytics tool but are due to a lack of complete requirements analysis during selection. So, before you choose the right tool, be clear on where, why, and how the tool is going to be used. Select a tool that will measure what is vital to your business and one that will work with your organization's technology infrastructure and constraints. Here are some of the things to consider.

Define Needs

Before considering the features offered by different tool solutions, it is good to define the needs of your business. Understand first what is vital for your business's Web analytics effort. Make sure you have answers to these questions; what is it that you want to measure and improve? Is it search engine marketing, content conversions, online buying, or email conversions? Do you intend to track downloads or forms? Will you require real-time access to detailed information, or will you be distributing periodic, summarized reports? Who is the intended recipient of these reports and how often will you be sending them? What is the purpose of the reports? Do you have affiliates, distributors, or partners who need information? What are your future goals? How important is accuracy to you?

Evaluate the Most Important Features

After assessing what your needs are, it's time to analyze the features that meet those needs. The best way to begin your analysis is going through product reviews from influential websites and forums. You can simplify the process by assessing the below core features and functions.

  • The best Web analytics tools should have security functionality. The product should have both user-based and role-based security to allow you to designate who can administer, use, and create applications. The product should also involve security with other essential security mechanisms from the network, database, and the computer's operating system.
  • The data sources must match to your particular needs. So, it is good to confirm access to numerous databases and the types of file the tool contains.
  • Another must-have feature for Web analytic tools is visualization. I mean, you don't want to spend a lot of time reading and comprehending all the information in the report. It is good to evaluate which information is particularly important to you. Choose a product that will allow you to filter and summarize detailed information for visualization purposes.
  • You should also consider the delivery mode when selecting the best Web analytics tools. Real-time integration, as well as offline updates, are essential qualities of an excellent analytic tool, but ones that are commonly overlooked. The product must be able to produce print and tabular reports which can be transferred to various graphics like PDF.

Assess the Tools Based on your Needs

There are many Web analytics tool vendors. Some of the most common ones include Google, Web Trends, IBM, Omniture (News - Alert) (Adobe Analytics) and AT Internet. Now that you have identified your business needs, you can assess the below aspects for the products you are considering:

  • Total cost- Other than the initial purchase price or the hosted analytics set-up; include hardware, installation, maintenance, support, and training.
  • Vendor track record- This is for reliability, service, and support
  • Type of application- Do you want a hosted, server-side installed, or hybrid software?

The correct Web analytic tools will have a significant effect on the success of your company's digital marketing initiatives. With proper Web analytic tools, you will be able to tell which areas are working and which ones need to improve. Use the above information as triggers to help you select the best Web analytic tool according to your particular situation.

About the Author

Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. He currently resides in the Southern California area and spends his time helping consumers and business owners alike try to be successful. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s most likely with his beautiful wife and three children.




 
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