March 25, 2004, 12:00 AM

Analytic data drive changes that boost customer retention at VanDyke.com

The software developer’s customers want to get to information or products as quickly as possible. Analytics information from ClickTracks helps get them to the right landing pages fast, increasing retention rates.

VanDyke Software Inc.’s e-commerce operation is the purest of pure-plays: the company’s technical software for secure network communications is sold almost solely online and delivered exclusively via web download on its site. Based on web analytics data from ClickTracks, the independent software developer and marketer has made site changes that have significantly boosted the retention rate of customers coming in from its Google AdWords program -- by as much as 10% for some products, marketing manager Marc Orchant tells Internet Retailer. VanDyke defines retention as when a customer stays on the site long enough to subscribe to its newsletter, download a white paper, or download an evaluation copy of a software package.

After analyzing the exit points of visitors coming in from the Google campaigns, Orchant says VanDyke changed where the keywords deliver visitors within the site. “We sell a technical product, and we don’t use marketing style landing pages,” Orchant says. “Our customers are looking to get at what they want as quickly as they can, and we succeed much better when we bring people right to a navigable portion of our site. So just by changing where they land and being able to monitor that in what is basically real time, I can continue to improve our ability to not lose people when they hit a page that is not what they wanted.”

The site’s biggest web search destination areas are software download pages and product information pages. To direct visitors to the right pages as quickly as possible, Orchant uses the ClickTracks analytic data to find patterns. “If I see someone travel through three pages on the site, then go to a download, that`s is a good page – maybe I ought to be taking them there first,” he says. “ What we try to do is establish a correlation between keywords and completing any of the three retention goals, then figure out the most efficient way to get the visitor there.” Beyond search-related data, ClickTracks also has highlighted navigation patterns among visitors to customer support pages that have prompted significant restructuring of those pages.

Orchant adds the analytics tool has delivered benefits beyond revealing how customers experience the site. “This is not just being able to see the navigation behavior of those customers. It has let us test in a much more interactive way the changes that we believe are going to create a better customer experience,” he says.

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