Would you consider making banking transactions that you couldn’t track later? Would you consider selling merchandise without a register that logs each of your sales and orders. So then why would you not want to track everything that is happening on your website?
Web analytics is a broad term used to describe software that tracks actions, sales, and behavior on your site. That is a simple definition but it pretty much covers it.
Google analytics-Let’s start with 800 lb gorilla in the room, Google analytics is the free web analytics tool from google. For it’s purposes, it is well rounded in terms of features and it is simple enough for any small business or website owner to use.
Google analytics has the ability to track conversions (goals), visitors and where they came from (traffic sources), top content on your site, and much more. If you don’t want to spend money and don’t have a real need to have a high performing web analytics system, then this one is for you.
If you have ever hosted a site with a hosting company who had cpanel as the admin interface, chances are you also had Awstats. Awstats is a free open source tracking software, which is usually included in most hosting packages. It is basic and for a long time I have used it myself. It provides unique visitors, locations,
* Number of visits, and number of unique visitors,
* Visits duration and last visits,
* Days of week and rush hours (pages, hits, KB for each hour and day of week),
* Domains/countries of hosts visitors (pages, hits, KB, 269 domains/countries detected, GeoIp detection),
* Most viewed, entry and exit pages,
* Web compression statistics (for mod_gzip or mod_deflate),
* OS used (pages, hits, KB for each OS, 35 OS detected),
* Browsers used (pages, hits, KB for each browser, each version (Web, Wap, Media browsers: 97 browsers, more than 450 if using browsers_phone.pm library file),
* Search engines, keyphrases and keywords used to find your site ( like yahoo, google, altavista, etc…),
* Number of times your site is “added to favorites bookmarks”.
To install and use awstats, you don’t need it to be provided by your hosting company, you can add it yourself.
Of the same variety but a lot better and of course not free is getclicky. I have been using this real time web analytics for about a year and I absolutely love it. Aside from the regular features like visits and such. It offers a Spy option in which you can see real time who’s on your site and what they are looking at.
Also, they have a very robust reporting option, you can elect all sorts of options for your reports.
They even have an Iphone version, so that you are never far away from your stats. My favorite thing about getclicky is the simplicity of its layout.
They also have a very active forum for support and answers are very prompt to any queries you may have.
Competitive Intelligence Analytics
If you are running performance or direct response campaigns, having a spy tool sometimes helps. I debated whether to include this as a web analytics tool, because it tells you what the competition is doing. However, since web analytics as a whole is meant to give you an edge. or to help you improve your campaign, then it makes sense to have such a tool and to classify it as such.
Personally, I’ve never used the paid version of compete so I can not speak to its effectiveness, I know many marketers that do though and their consensus is that while it can help, no tool is the end all be all.
Compete basically allows you to see and estimate what a competitor is bidding on for paid keywords, shows you it’s traffic source and also helps you with finding new keywords for SEO.
A tool that I have used and find very thorough is Adgooroo. It is comprehensive in that it covers Paid Search Traffic, SEO, and Display. One of the main selling points of Adgooroo is the name it has behind it, Eric Ward. In case you didn’t know who he is, Eric Ward was doing SEO when many of us still thought getting 1000 hours free on an AOL CD was awesome.
SEM- Track and gain insight into keywords that are being bid within your market
Trademark Insight- Do you want to see if someone is misusing your trademark name? This keeps track of the ads bidding on your trademark name, especially useful if you are running an affiliate program and want to keep affiliates from bidding on your trademark keywords.
Display insight- See what types of banners and where your competitors are running their campaigns.
Link insight- Learn to find the best potential link placements for your site. This tool helps you find quality over quantity when it comes to link building.
Industry insight- Have access to a database of 50k B2B leads.
User Behavior Analytics
Allows you to see how your users are interacting with your site. Through heatmaps, you’ll see where a user clicks and how he moves around the site. Crazy egg is a great tool of you want to optimize an ecommerce store for example and want to figure out how to improve click through rates , etc.
Same as Crazy egg, but with more features.
Ad Serving and Analytics
Adserving works just as it sounds, it serves your ad. But obviously it does more, you can also optimize, track, run rich media campaigns, and more.
If you’re considering a large media buy, such as in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, I would strongly recommend going with an adserving company (actually you might consider an ad agency as well).
Doubleclick used to be it’s own company until google bought them. All in all it’s an OK ad serving platform, but it still needs some work in the usability of the interface category.
Mediamind- a main competitor in the adserving vertical, Mediamind is well ahead of Doubleclick in terms of usability and reporting capabilities. It’s graphs, charts and ease of use makes this my preference for adserving high end campaigns.
Other mentions in the adserving space include:
Atlas (microsofts adserver)
*note, adserving is usually charged by as a markup on the cpm or the cpc.
I hope this article has helped you decide which one you need to use. Web analytics is not a mutually exclusive process, many advertisers at one time or another use two even three of these services. For example, many small and medium sized sites use Getclicky or Google Analytics for daily montoring and comprehesive reporting of natural and some paid traffic, however, they will readily use mediamind or doublclick for adserving when executing a major campaign.If you found this helpful, please share it below. Thank you!