Web Analytics: A Multiuse Tool

Marketers are looking to Web analytic tools to track consumer behavior, according to “Web Analytics Is Becoming Customer Analytics,” a report published by Forrester Research.

Forrester asked members of its Web Analytics Peer Research Panel to asses how they use their Web analytic tools. Findings show an increasing number of marketers are using Web analytics tools to track consumer behavior across retail channels.

The number of respondents who import data from other interaction sources at least monthly, such as point-of-sale systems and call center logs, has almost doubled from 23 percent in 2004 to 42 percent now.

Still more marketers use ad hoc analysis of Web analytics as a basic feature. Eighty percent of respondents perform queries at least monthly, 34 percent as often as daily or hourly.

The practice has become so widespread, ASPs including WebSideStory and Omniture have allowed their simple HTML reporting to interface with Excel clients to assist users.

Web analytic tools can be used for clickstream analytics and have the ability to record activity using cookies, or registered user activity without the need for cookies. “They mostly rely on cookies, a mix of first and third party cookies,” Bob Chatham, principal analyst at Forrester Research told ClickZ Stats. “You can use them without cookies, but you don’t get repeat information. You could, if you have registered users.”

Retailer REI is one company using Web analytics to its advantage. REI operates as a cooperative and therefore has a built-in tracking tool. The report says the company has become so adept at tracking customers across channels, it purchases search keywords to influence online behavior and offline purchases. Chatham said members don’t mind providing additional tracking information because they receive dividends from the cooperative each year.

Companies without formalized membership can still utilize data obtained through Web analytics across all channels. Chatham said, “It is actually an important technology to support cross channel transactions.” He added it can be used in just about any channel, including phone applications, retail point-of-sale, even instances when someone swipes an ID card.

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