WebSideStory to Tackle Segmentation, ROI

A new upgrade by site metrics firm WebSideStory aims to address both marketers’ growing demand for quantifiable Web investments, and the industry’s trend toward all-in-one solutions.

Specifically, the company’s newest version of its HitBox Enterprise service offers a way for marketer to segment visitors to their Web sites, using cookies. For instance, visitors to a site’s “New User Information” section could be labeled first-time viewers, while visitors to “Account Information” could be classified as repeat visitors. Respondents to email or ad campaigns, or past purchasers could be grouped as other segments.

The groups’ paths through the site and purchase behavior are tracked instantaneously and can be analyzed independently. As a result, marketers can use that data to adjust pricing or content, or to track results from online campaigns.

To that latter end, San Diego-based WebSideStory’s upgraded service also includes basic analysis features, enabling marketers to track the number and value of conversions — and hence, the return on investment, or ROI — from an email or Web ad campaign.

“You can’t market effectively on the Web without functionality like visitor segmentation and campaign analysis,” said WebSideStory president and chief executive John Hentrich. “HitBox Enterprise V7.0 extends WebSideStory’s rich history of technology innovation and leadership that began in 1996 when we pioneered the outsourced method of Web analytics.”

The news comes as other major online marketing players are striving to meet clients’ demand for quantifiable ROI. Market leader DoubleClick, for instance, is exploring performance-based advertising deals through a new unit, designed to woo offline direct marketing clients eager for proven return on investment.

Meanwhile, industry groups like the Interactive Advertising Bureau and other major sellers of online media and advertising services, such as Microsoft’s MSN have undertaken studies to prove that online brand advertising, too, has a significant and discernable ROI.

At the same time, the upgrade of WebSideStory’s HitBox Enterprise addresses another trend in online marketing — offering one-stop-shop packages to clients.

Just as the new HitBox Enterprise reduces the need for additional segmentation and analysis work by marketers, competitors have been hurrying to offer similarly combined tracking and analysis packages. Last week, WebSideStory’s chief rival, NetIQ, struck a deal with database marketer Quadstone to provide tools for segmenting and modeling site visitors.

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