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Does a Perfect Web Metrics Tool Exist?, Part 3

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Posted January 8, 2003 By Melaney Smith     Feedback

Deciding what application to use to crunch your numbers is nearly as mind-boggling as the data itself. Which tools work for marketers? Which don't? Part three of a three-part series.

In parts one and two, I shared reader feedback and recommendations on reporting tools, in response to a previous column. This week: more tools and more feedback. Let's get started.

Memetrics's XOS

XOS is a campaign optimization tool allowing users to test, measure, and tweak their way to improved campaign results. Users say it makes online campaign analysis and optimization quick and painless.

Readers appreciate that XOS allows them to experiment with different online campaigns, then refocus traffic to the formats that prove most effective. It repeats this process until campaigns are fully optimized. They report XOS does the work for them. The tool gets high marks for ease of use and is "not terribly expensive." Rene Leger likes the "built-in modeling capabilities that, in essence, determine what the best content is for different customer segments." Jackie Schroeder said, "I would definitely recommend XOS to any online marketer focused on business results."

Memetrics points out on its Web site that just a few variations across multiple campaigns via multiple pages can result in an exponential (and daunting) number of combinations to test to optimize a single campaign. The company explains:

[XOS] systematically tests the effectiveness of different marketing offers and communication strategies on web sites, through e-mail and in call centers and then delivers the communication that will deliver the best commercial outcome.

Pricing starts at $49,000 for a one-year license.

Manticore Technology's Virtual Commerce Master

Geared specifically toward online stores, Virtual Commerce Master is another rave-review product that prompted me to inquire whether my feedback providers were compensated in some way by the company.

I have trouble categorizing it. Apparently Virtual Commerce Master strives to be a one-stop shop for all your e-commerce analysis needs. User S. Rand Fishkin said it "does web analytics, email marketing, campaign management, and commerce tracking all in one format.... We just log into their site and view any data we want."

Readers credit Virtual Commerce Master with providing all the information they need to make decisions regarding their online stores. They like that the tool makes it possible to track individual user click streams through the store. Price is about the only thing readers complained about, which starts at $895 per month for 50,000 page views. A representative from Manticore justifies the price, saying that Virtual Commerce Master often replaces several tools, because it offers "commerce metrics, campaign management, affiliate tracking, and email marketing all in one single tool."

Manticore claims Virtual Commerce Master can help "convert clicks to cash":

[It] is a comprehensive relationship and e-commerce management tool that helps you understand how click streams, product displays, and ease of buying on your online store can impact your sales and revenue."

Microsoft SQL

Power analysts love the freedom that comes with learning SQL, basically a programming language some desperate analysts have adopted as a reporting tool. Using SQL, you write your own queries or programs to pull the exact data you need directly from tables in a database. It's long been a personal favorite, but it's not for everyone.

For SQL to be beneficial, you must be thoroughly familiar with your database's table structures -- including knowledge of any internal errors. You must be willing to learn a programming language. Once mastered, you'll have the ability to create your own tables and access literally any data in the database that's not restricted in your profile. Dylan Lewis called SQL his "savior" but points out you "must have access to everything for this to be a good tool."

Prices vary, depending on the type of license.

Brio

Brio is a report writer that enables nontechies to pull reports from a data warehouse without learning a programming language. Knowledge of data intricacies is required, but a user interface writes the technical code in the background so the analyst doesn't have to. Ryan Massie wrote, "Even the marketing people were able to create reports on the fly, once they understood our data structure." He added, "The biggest help for me was with formatting -- with Brio it was just drag and drop to format a report." Readers report Brio appeals to both technical and marketing folks as a method to access data warehouse contents.

On its Web site, Brio describes its tool as "an enterprise-class solution for generating high-volume, presentation-quality reports with unparalleled performance." Multiple data sources can be combined into one report, with results posted to an internal Web page. The Brio representative I spoke with declined to provide pricing, saying it depends on so many variables he could not even give me a range.

Other Analysis Tools

Chad Arimura said a program called Ariel is one to watch. "We've been able to track the effectiveness of campaigns such as Google AdWords all the way to the final point, closing the sale." Wil Reynolds said, "Having used about three or four different analysis programs in my time, NetTracker is the best I've used to date. Its integration into other databases is key, and it is relatively inexpensive." Another reader chimed in on WebSite CEO, saying it "dramatically reduced the search engine optimization timeline.... We have been able to significantly reduce our dependence on other tools."

Readers were surprisingly quiet on the subject of reporting email marketing results, but Mark Garner said, "For email marketing, I use Campaigner from GotMarketing. It's cheap, easy to use, and does most of the things that far more expensive options... do." Matt McGee recommended HitBox: "They track all kinds of things, like campaigns, visitor segments, and a lot of commerce stats. It's a welcome relief from the logs."

So many tools, so little time! Many other products received single mentions, but, alas, I couldn't check them all out. Thank you, readers, for sharing your experiences and helping your fellow analysts in their quests for better analysis tools. I suspect we haven't heard the end of this one.

Reprinted from ClickZ.

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