April 1, 2010, 12:00 AM

A new analytics tool ties shopping behavior to merchandising and marketing

Alterian has developed and launched WebJourney, a new analytics application that gives web retailers a way to analyze new data—such as what a visitor hovers over or selects on a web site—and use that data to engage shoppers.

Alterian, a London-based integrated marketing platform developer, has launched a new software-as-a-service product that gives web retailers better ways to get up close and personal with their shopper data.

Alterian has developed and launched WebJourney, a new analytics application that gives web retailers a program and tools to create and analyze traditional metrics, such as site traffic patterns or sales information, and new data such as what a visitor hovers over or selects on a web site-even how long she spends with specific items on a particular web page.

The integration of more sophisticated and detailed web behavioral data into an analytics program will enhance marketing through direct mail, the Internet, e-mail and social media, says Alterian. One analytics expert sees potential in the new on-demand service. “By offering detailed behavioral tracking of individual visitors, and customizable ‘experts’ that turn behavioral data into meaningful insights which are actionable at an individual level, many of the roadblocks associated with traditional analysis and optimization are overcome,” says John Lovett, senior partner and principal at consulting firm Web Analytics Demystified.

Alterian, which has yet to reveal pricing or name retailers using WebJourney, launched the application in order to capitalize on a market need, the company says. A recent survey of 1,000 marketing executives by Alterian revealed that 42% of respondents don’t incorporate any form of web data into their customer database, including information about the behavior of online consumers. In the same survey, almost 60% of respondents revealed that “engaging individuals on the web site” was one of their top areas for investment for 2010. That demonstrates that organizations understand the opportunity to engage with visitors at a time when they are seeking information and to interact with them rather than interrupting them, Alterian says.

The newly released WebJourney application includes a dashboard and data discovery and visualization tools. “Turning the web site into an engaging communication channel helps the visitor as well as the organization,” says Alterian CEO David Eldridge. “Making other communications more engaging and timely is a tremendous benefit.”

Lovett says that, by enabling online merchandisers and marketers to record profiles of how web site visitors interact with web pages and particular pieces of content, WebJourney is designed to show the shopping process a visitor takes before making a purchase or abandoning a site. After compiling such information into segments of visitors, a WebJourney user could devise merchandising or marketing campaigns to engage site visitors based on known shopping behaviors. “It gives a retailer something to go on to devise specific merchandising or marketing programs,” he says.

If WebJourney shows that visitors spend a lot of time with a product configurator and then click a store locator, for example, a retailer might decide to show a store coupon next to the configurator or display a separate promotion to induce the consumer to buy online, Lovett says.

WebJourney also brings value in the way it integrates with Alterian’s enterprise applications for managing interactions with customers, says Joe Stanhope, an analyst specializing in web analytics and web page optimization at Forrester Research Inc. “Alterian is taking a specific approach to web analytics to make it nicely tuned to the marketer,” he says.

While other providers of web analytics serve a more general range of users, Alterian focuses on online merchandisers and marketers, and is designing WebJourney to closely integrate with its other enterprise applications including content management systems and customer relationship management, Stanhope says. This can make it faster and easier to coordinate online merchandising and marketing campaigns that leverage analytics data on how consumers have browsed on web sites, he adds.

The challenge for Alterian going forward, Stanhope says, will be to continue improving how it makes WebJourney analytics data available across its enterprise applications through better user interfaces. “This is an initial release of WebJourney, but we’ll have to see how far they take it with improved integration with other Alterian applications,” he says.

Alterian’s analytics software is delivered to more than 1,000 marketing organizations in 26 countries, the company says.

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