July 27, 2005, 12:00 AM

Drs. Foster & Smith clicks with clickstream analysis

With new clickstream analysis, Drs. Foster & Smith will study in-depth the buyer behavior of visitors to its home and product pages and further segment its e-mail marketing database, which contains between 5 million and 6 million names.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Drs. Foster & Smith Inc. is putting in place a new analytics program from Coremetrics Inc. and making changes to its e-mail marketing program to better analyze customer behavior. “We want to know more about what we don’t know,” says Gordon Magee, Internet marketing and analysis manager.

Drs. Foster & Smith, which ranks No. 80 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, has maintained an internally developed analytics program for several years, but now the direct marketer of pets supplies will go live with a new Coremetrics program in August, Magee says. With better analytics, Drs. Foster & Smith will do much more clickstream analysis of data, including site traffic generated through paid and natural search.

Drs. Foster & Smith knows that a great deal of traffic is generated through its catalogs. “Our customers read our catalogs, go to the web and then type ‘Drs. Foster & Smith’ into a search engine and then come to our site through Google or Yahoo,” Magee says. “Now we want to know more about who those catalog customers are and how we can reach them more effectively.”

With clickstream analysis, Drs. Foster & Smith will more closely study the buyer behavior of visitors to its home and product pages with a specific goal of better segmenting its e-mail marketing database, which contains between 5 million and 6 million names. Today, the list is divided into 10 categories, which Drs. Foster & Smith use to e-mail various types of newsletters and upcoming promotions to customers.

But more list segmentation, coupled with better e-mail management and analytics programs, will help Drs. Foster & Smith drill down, identify very specific new customer niches and send those prospects more targeted content and offers. “If we can better identify how our customers are coming to the site, particularly our catalog readers, we can do a better job of offering them articles to read and promotions they can act on,” Magee says.

Drs. Foster & Smith can do list segmentation and analysis now, but such a project often requires the company’s information technology staff to write a custom code to extract the information. Drs. Foster & Smith will now automate the process and is talking with several different data mining and e-mail management technology providers. “We will make a decision on a final vendor in the next several months,” Magee says.

The company is already a successful web retailer. Drs. Foster & Smith expects its 2005 web sales to exceed $100 million and sales conversion rates on a recent summer red tag center exceeded 8%. But better clickstream analysis will help the company better manage its e-commerce operations. “It will show us where we can improve,” Magee says.

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