September 4, 2007, 12:00 AM

Analytics service helps small e-retailers target their marketing dollars

StatCounter shows where visitors come from, what terms they entered into search engines and what pages they visit. Basic service is free, making it attractive to smaller retailers.


Angie Lynch, a former schoolteacher who started her web site a year ago to sell baby and children’s products, is using StatCounter to track where visitors come from, what terms they type into search engines and what pages they visit.

That data helped her decide to discontinue advertising on a site that delivered her only five visitors in a month, for instance. She also watches for signs that several visitors are coming from a particular site in a short period, to learn what’s bringing them to her online store. “If it’s from a message board I can post to it, saying I’m the owner of that site and here’s a coupon code,” Lynch says.

Lynch prefers StatCounter to the free Google Analytics program because StatCounter does not put a visible counter on her site. “I don’t want people to be able to compare me to other sites,” she says. “If another site is more popular, they might decide to order from the more popular site.” The site attracted nearly 9,000 unique visitors in August, she says.

Lynch started with StatCounter’s free service, which provides lifetime summary data and a more detailed look at the last 500 page views, but then upgraded to get detailed data on more site visits. For $9 per month, StatCounter provides data on the past 1,500 page views, and prices go up to $29 per month for tracking the last 25,000 page views. Ireland-based StatCounter also earns revenue by placing ads on the user log-in page.

Another small online retailer, Fleur de Lis, is using the free StatCounter service. Rene Fletcher, president of sales and marketing for the New Orleans-based firm that sells apparel, accessories and other items with the fleur de lis that has come to symbolize the hurricane-ravaged city, says StatCounter has provided data showing that the two-month-old site is showing up more in search engines. With more visitors coming to the site through natural search, Fletcher says she has been able to cut back on pay-per-click advertising and focus more on marketing offline, such as with brochures and postcards.

In business since 1999, StatCounter says it tracks 2.1 million web sites for 1.5 million customers and a total of 9 billion page loads per month.



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