September 3, 2002, 12:00 AM

Do Sweat the small stuff

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Data from HitBox also made a difference in the site’s efforts to recruit newsletter subscribers. Syrett studied the data to determine where on the site visitors were congregating in greatest numbers, and she placed the offer in those locations. Since switching the offer to those locations last fall, subscriptions to the newsletter have quadrupled to 45,000 from 11,000.

At a time when e-commerce companies are conservative in technology investment, ASP or hosted web analytics applications such as the offerings of WebSideStory, Coremetrics, WebCriteria and others are showing up on corporate shopping lists. The total web analytics market, including both licensed software that resides on a company’s own site as well as hosted solutions, has been forecast by most analysts at about $1 billion by 2006. However, sales of hosted solutions are expected to eclipse software sales starting next year, according to IT research firm The Aberdeen Group, because the hosted or ASP model can be implemented faster and costs less upfront than licensing software.

Hosted solutions carry fees that may start as low as a few thousand dollars a month, and rise to an annual $250,000 or more depending on the provider and elements such as the number of page views, the frequency and detail of data updating, and the amount of consulting services a company chooses to buy to wrap around the service.

The evidence is piling up that small changes can make big differences on e-commerce metrics that matter. While multi-channel merchants now also measure web site success by the yardstick of how the online channel affects shoppers’ behavior offline, sites must pull their own weight in sales, as well. In an increasingly competitive online marketplace, small changes that retrieve carts or boost revenues by even a few percentage points are one way to move the needle. And it’s a strategy that’s getting new attention as retailers work harder at capturing more sales from the most promising source: visitors already at their sites.

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