I-Marketers Turn to More Powerful Web Analytics

As the complexity of e-commerce transactions increases, so does the need for more sophisticated software and hosted applications to analyze Web traffic and track campaigns and promotions.

Consider the Discovery Channel's 8-year-old store at www.discoverystore.com, which sells learning toys, documentaries and equipment. Since 2002, it has used Omniture's SiteCatalyst software to analyze Web traffic, improve the site and increase conversion.

“We've increased our traffic from search engines, decreased our shopping cart fallout and been able to capitalize on popular promotions and products,” said Matthew Welsh, producer of the Discovery Channel Store, Silver Spring, MD.

The cable television network now uses the SiteCatalyst 10 version from Omniture, Orem, UT, to identify paths and behavior on DiscoveryStore.com that are most valuable for revenue and conversion. Once these behavioral segments on its site are identified, Discovery can use that learning to redesign other processes to optimize all site avenues.

“Version 10 enables us to go beyond the already valuable click data and actually tie revenue metrics directly to pathing behavior,” Welsh said. “It allows us to address the limitation of only knowing where customers are going on our site but not what paths are adding the most value for us.”

For instance, perhaps path A is the most popular from the DiscoveryStore.com home page. But path B on the site may account for the greatest percentage of revenue. This learning aims to help the company direct more of path A traffic to path B to improve revenue generation.

For Inter-Continental, the challenge is different. The chain has hundreds of hotel properties, many requiring unique promotions. The Atlanta company turned to Art Technology Group Inc. for its Campaign Optimizer product, an A/B testing application.

Campaign Optimizer lets Inter-Continental simultaneously test multiple promotions, products, creative, images and price points. It can determine which garners maximum conversions and revenue. Also, users can test more than two choices or A/B/C/D split tests.

Another Art Technology Group client is Finish Line. The footwear marketer is testing a creative piece around shoes, populating a slot in its home page and rotating all the promotions in a 25 percent slot. This means that 25 percent of the people visiting the site at www.finishline.com will see the promo in this four-segment test.

In initial findings, the “Buy Now” promotion generated the lowest click-through rate but the highest conversion.

“What we allow you to do is test simultaneously,” said Scott Todaro, senior product marketing manager at Art Technology Group, Cambridge, MA. “Others put up a page [or] take it down to load balance. We take your full customer base and test it.”

At the other end of the spectrum, some clients need help with more meat-and-potatoes issues. Cataloger and online retailer Wine Country Gift Baskets, Fullerton, CA, tasked QAS, developer of the QuickAddress software, to increase deliverability and lower customer service time spent tracking down packages and fixing bad addresses.

The address-verification services of QAS, Charlestown, MA, are most useful around the holidays, typically the top revenue-generating season for Wine Country Gift Baskets. That season has a small window to get things right.

Suppose a salesman is placing a huge order on the site at www.winecountrygiftbaskets.com and his records are not exactly correct. He is using the site's new Gifts Concierge service, the easiest way to place large orders going to many addresses, but he is guessing at ZIP codes. The site automatically corrects wrong information entered by the customer.

“[With QAS] he is able to correct the problems himself before it even gets into our system,” said Alan J. Niemuth, electronic commerce director at Wine Country Gift Baskets.

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