Maximizing ROI via Web Site Traffic Analysis
- View SourceTitle: Maximizing ROI via Web Site Traffic Analysis
Author: Lee Traupel
Article Originally Written: June, 2002
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Maximizing ROI via Web Site Traffic Analysis
Copyright � 2002, Lee Traupel
Intelective Communications, Inc.
We are clearly well past the innocent "golden age" of the
Internet - Darwinian economics have become the order of the day
today. Any company worth their salt must maintain a web site as
an information resource and/or to generate incremental ecommerce
revenue. Qualified traffic is the name of the game, as it's the
oxygen that keeps a good ecommerce web site thriving.
Consequently, it's very important to have an understanding of
your web site traffic or visitor activity; i.e. baseline
information that includes the number of visitors during specific
time periods, originating location (domain), where the visitors
went on a site and how long they stayed on specific sections or
pages of a web site. The de facto industry standard traffic
analysis tool application is Web Trends, manufactured/supported
by netiQ, Inc., which we will focus on in this article.
FUNDAMENTALS AND JARGON WATCH
All traffic analysis tools rely primarily upon information
that is extracted from log files; i.e. files that are
maintained on your server which show where a visitor came
from, what keyword(s) they used to find your site (if
applicable), what Operating System and Browser versions they
are using, etc. There are literally hundreds of excellent log
file analysis tools that can be located via CNet's Download.com
or TuCows - both sites are excellent resources for software and
It's critical in today's bottom line business environment to
have the ability to analyze web traffic (visitors) and patterns
and then integrate this knowledge with your overall business
processes - what do you pay for traffic, is it converting
(people are buying your goods and services), how long are
people staying on specific sections or pages of your web site,
what marketing expenditures are working and which aren't!
You know your entering the reality distortion field (we
marketing types need to justify our fees & services) and
need to raise your jargon filters to stun level when you
here and/or see these keywords; i.e. clickstream traffic
(fancy way of saying traffic or visitors delivered via mouse
clicks to your web site), ebusiness solutions (meaning -
selling your products/services via an ecommerce site) or my
all-time personal favorite, "ebusiness intelligence" (what's
ebusiness and what determines if it's "intelligent").
TRAFFIC COUNTER APPLICATIONS
First and foremost, do you really need a comprehensive product
like Web Trends (more on the different applications later) or
can you get by with a click (traffic) counter application like
the Hit Box? The latter company provides a free plain vanilla
traffic counter which can be easily set up in minutes via your
web site. Hit Box is a great product and used by hundreds of
thousands of web sites, so it may be sufficient for your
business, if you just want very basic info ("Page Views and
Daily Unique Visitors) and don't mind advertising for another
company via your web site.
But, there are some downsides to utilizing Hit Box, you must
install their "button" on your Index (home) page and it only
provides you with basic traffic information (how much per day
with a forecast based on these numbers). You can upgrade to
their HitBox Professional which is very similar to Web Trends
basic application ("Web Trends Log Analyzer") - but, you have
to pay for this service on a traffic basis which can get
expensive, depending on your overall traffic.
WEB TRENDS APPLICATIONS AND INTERFACE
Web Trends (the company) was acquired by netiQ, Inc. the
parent company about 18 months ago due to their strong market
leadership position with web traffic analysis software. Like
many good web-focused software companies, netiQ enables you to
download all of their apps for a 30 day trial period. Estimates
range from 60-80% market share for one of their three primary
products; i.e. "Web Trends Log Analyzer," their baseline $500
USD application which is a good solution for most web sites
that have a single domain or under 25 in total; "Web Trends
Analysis Suite" (SRP $2.5K USD), which incorporates the
functionality of the Log Analyzer product and adds more
features for managing bandwidth usage (interior and external),
monitoring and alerting an IT Manager or Department for server
related problems and handles up to 100 domains (sites); the
"Web Trends Intelligence Suite" is their top of the line
product (pricing varies depending on bundled services) geared
for enterprise customers, it includes integration and training
services for integrating the application with Online Analytics
Processing Tools ("OLAP" yes another ebiz acronym) or other
types of reporting tools.
We've been using and recommending Web Trends to clients for
years primarily because of its interface and functionality.
It's a browser-enabled app, meaning anyone with a browser
(IE or Netscape) can view reports and data. The reports are
presented in a straightforward manner that includes basic pie
chart or bar types of graphics - you can easily tell at a
glance what your visitor traffic was for a given period,
where they came from, what pages they visited and how long
they stayed on specific pages. You don't need to be a
technologist or a marketing geek to use this application -
see below for practical tips.
So what do you want to measure and what type of custom reports
do you want to run once you get the software installed? You
will want to measure how much traffic (visitors) is coming to
your web site per day, week, month, where they are coming from
(country of origin), and where visitors going on your web site;
i.e. home page, internal pages and of these what specific pages;
i.e. About Us Products, Services your Shopping Cart, etc. Pay
careful attention to usage times, how long people are staying
on specific pages; too long may indicate they can't figure out
your content, or your content is so good its meaningful and
educational. For example, if your "White Paper Resource"
section is the most frequently visited and the visitor
sessions (time elements) are long (2-4 minutes) then this
means your content is being well received. But, if everyone
is just reading your White Papers but not filling out your
response forms then you may need to alter some aspects of your
business processes and how you communicate them via your web
Web Trends compliments ongoing advertising campaigns and
processes - it lets you capture critical ROI ("Return on
Investment") information by giving you an accurate picture
of traffic and usage patterns that should correlate with
what your ad agency or marketing partner is telling you or
confirming with their own reports. For example: If your
deploying an opt-in e-mail campaign and bringing people to
a specific "landing page" (specific page where people are
directed to that may include an "offer") you need to carefully
monitor if people are clicking through to the page and how
long they are staying and/or going to your shopping cart to
purchase a product or a registration fulfillment page. If the
session times (how long they stay on a page) are short and
people aren't filling out a form or converting (purchasing
or taking a specific action) then you clearly have some work
to do on your web site content and or business processes.
Lee Traupel has 20 plus years of business development and
marketing experience - he is the founder of Intelective
Communications, Inc. http://www.intelective.com, a marketing
services and software company which provides strategic and
tactical marketing services exclusively to small to medium
sized companies. Lee@... Reprinted with permission
from Intelective Communications - this article may be reprinted
freely, providing this attribution box remains intact.
(c) 2001-2002 by Intelective Communications, Inc.
Posted: Thu Jul 18 11:51:35 EDT 2002
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