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Maximizing ROI via Web Site Traffic Analysis

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  • Lee Traupel
    Title: Maximizing ROI via Web Site Traffic Analysis Author: Lee Traupel Copyright: 2002Article Originally Written: June, 2002Article URL:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 18, 2002
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      Title: Maximizing ROI via Web Site Traffic Analysis
      Author: Lee Traupel
      Copyright: 2002

      Article Originally Written: June, 2002

      Article URL:
      http://www.intelective.com/art_maximizroiviawebtraffic.shtml

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      Maximizing ROI via Web Site Traffic Analysis
      Copyright � 2002, Lee Traupel
      Intelective Communications, Inc.
      http://www.intelective.com



      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
      information.

      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.


      PRACTICAL USAGE

      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
      site.

      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.



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      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.
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      Posted: Thu Jul 18 11:51:35 EDT 2002


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