March 24, 2004, 12:00 AM

Analytics pushing deeper into online retail business, says Omniture

At some Omniture customers, 1,000 managers a day log on to run reports; a few years ago, it was a fraction of that number. “It’s no longer the realm of techies,” says the analytics provider.

A customer summit that drew 200 users of Omniture’s hosted SiteCatalyst tool revealed two major trends in retailers` use of analytics, vice president of marketing John Mellor tells Internet Retailer. It’s getting pushed deeper into the organization and being utilized by more people, and it`s being applied to guide a wider range of business functions.

Mellor says some of his customers have as many as 1,000 people log onto the tool to run reports every day; a few years ago, only a fraction of that number did so. “Analytics is no longer the realm of the techies,” says Mellor. “Now frontline managers can go in to find out how a campaign is running. And if it’s not performing, they’re going to do some A/B testing and swap out creative until they get the performance they want.”

Beyond campaign performance, analytic data now inform other areas such as product development, Mellor adds. For example, analyzing search results and in particular, what customers are searching for on a site but not finding, can yield valuable information about what should be on offer. “If a lot of people are looking for brown wingtip shoes, but I have a limited selection, that is information I want to feed back to the product development team,” he says.

Mellor adds analytics are getting more utilization at retailers as the tools get better at presenting data in a way non-techie marketers and merchandisers can understand. One SiteCatalyst feature, ClickMap, for example, shows where people are clicking on a site in a sort of heat map graphic that displays click density. The latest iteration goes beyond showing what elements are getting the most clicks with the capacity to map answers to to other questions, such as which site or page elements are generating the most revenue per click.

The clickmaps have provided some interesting takeaways for retailers. One SiteCatalyst customer found, for example, that an analysis of the number of clicks on various site elements showed few surprises -- search got a lot of clicks, as did the promotion of the day. But dividing clicks by revenue told a different story. A gift card link buried low on the home page was discovered to be generating an average $14 per click. “When customers found it, they spent a lot of money,” says Mellor. The analysis prompted the retailer to move the feature to a more prominent location.

Omniture’s service is particularly scaled to larger retailers and many of them are already using analytics to some extent. But Mellor says he sees plenty of growth potential at those large retail organizations as they make greater use of the capacities they have and put analytics tools in the hands of more managers. “We have some customers who have had our product for a couple of years and still the primary report they run is on their number of page views. But they are starting to get more sophisticated at using the tools,” he says. “A lot of our customers have only a couple of dozen people using analytics – but they’ve got a couple of hundred that should be.”


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