From DM News' Special Report on Web Analytics: Best Practices for Using Web Analytics

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As companies strive to enhance and optimize the effectiveness of their online channel, more and more marketers and business leaders have embraced the growing trend of adding rich Internet applications (RIA) to their Web sites.

While the visual appeal of the site is undoubtedly improved with these enhancements, the bottom-line value cannot be determined unless companies know how to measure the ROI (return on investment) generated by these applications.

Applying Web analytics technology to RIA can provide insight into the DM News' Special Report on Web Analyticstrends and behaviors associated with the interactions of online visitors and can reveal answers to critical business questions such as: How did the application improve sales or conversion-or why didn't it? What specific features contributed to that outcome?

RIA leverage advanced technologies to provide users a more "life-like" experience-usually involving technologies that dynamically alter the interface without having to refresh the browser.

[DM News' Special Report on Web Analytics is available as a PDF file. To download the article click here or on the image.]/SPAN />

Some examples of RIA include online automobile configurators, style selectors for clothing, and even drag-and-drop product detail pages and shopping carts. As companies recognize RIA as the next step in the online evolution, business leaders are turning to Web analytics to help them understand these applications' impact on ROI. A couple of best practices to keep in mind when measuring RIA with Web analytics are outlined below:

Optimize Efficiency Through A/B Testing

Measuring activity and application use compared to site goals or success events provides insight into how effective an application is at driving ROI. The most effective way to identify what areas of the application drive success is through A/B comparisons. Using Web analytics, businesses can set up scenarios to measure the current application against a modified application, or against the "standard" process. These tests will reveal what areas of the application are contributing to fallout, as well as identify the elements that are driving the highest conversion. As companies resolve problem areas and optimize successfully performing elements, they gain perspective into the efficiency of the application. This way, organizations are not only able to see the overall site success metrics, but can also gain insight into how specific actions contribute to that success.

Measure Micro-level Activity Separate From Macro-level Activity

Measuring site effectiveness is incomplete without a view into the granular details of RIA activities. Knowing that the application as a whole is generating ROI is great, but decision makers need to know how that ROI is generated in order to maintain and grow that success. To ensure an accurate and helpful analysis into RIA efficiency, it is important to separate and evaluate macro-level activity compared to micro-level actions within each application. In other words, companies need to make sure they not only measure the application as a whole, but also evaluate the contribution of user activity related to individual elements within the application. This way, companies receive a comprehensive and multi-dimensional view into the efficiency of their rich applications, enabling them to optimize their site's effectiveness.

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