December 9, 2004, 12:00 AM

Adding other metrics helps retailers make sense of clicks

Retailers who want to do more than count clicks are turning to service providers who combine analytics with other metrics to answer “how” and “why” sites are working the way they do.

Retailers who want to do more than count clicks are turning to service providers who combine analytics with other metrics to answer “how” and “why” sites are working the way they do. One vendor, Webmetrics, is combining analytics with performance monitoring to get the bigger picture. Another vendor, Keynote Systems Inc, is bringing together analytics and shopper surveys to broaden retailers’ understanding of their sites.

“Our hit analyzer product,” says Tim Drees, Webmetrics CEO, “correlates web site performance in terms of the page load times and error rates with analytics data, which tells us how many people are coming to the site, what they are doing at the site and where they are going. We want to bring everything together and provide a solution for all eyes at the company.”

In an example of how the Webmetrics system works, a graph of page load time is overlaid on a graph of the number of people viewing the page. The viewer sees the relationship, Drees says. The company plans to attach monetary values to the information. “For example, Amazon was down for a few hours the other day–how much did that cost them?” says Drees.

Carol Carpenter, director of product management for Keynote, says her company is going beyond clickstream analysis by adding survey information that can help explain the clicks. “Performance is a lot more than hits,” she says. “How many people actually bought? Have I reduced my support costs? How much have I improved my customer satisfaction and loyalty so that when they go to my offline store they’re going to actually buy more?”

Keynote uses a panel of 160,000 people, some compensated and some not, to explore sites. As the users navigate a site, the vendor asks them questions. “We might ask you a question at the very beginning, ‘like why are you here today?’ to tie intention to behavior to results,” Carpenter says.

The vendor can pose questions inside the page or by using pop-ups, Carpenter says. “We have solutions that track and watch what they do as well as taking the answers and integrating that with the behavior,” she says.

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