Website Analytics - Decisions, decisions, decisions
By John Harrison, CEO of Maxsi Ltd - Developers of eVisit Analyst
As a website analytics vendor the amount of competition in the market we face with our range of service and products does make us work extremely hard. It also means that website analytics purchasers have to put in some effort to choose the right product from the vast array of solutions available to them.
The one thing we don’t do when choosing between two cars is to compare the accessories and buy the one with most cup holders, space in the glove box and hooks to hang your jacket from. But so many purchasers of website analytics compare functions lists from the vendors and choose the one with most knobs and whistles regardless of whether they are needed.
The secret of success in selecting the right website analytics system is to keep away from the vendors in the first instance. Sit down with your team and pull together a list of what you want from your new system. Make sure that this is done in business terms eg determining pay back of marketing campaigns rather than features. Then, and only then, start approaching suppliers. You can then see how their offerings stack up against your requirements. You also need to be careful in analysing the responses from vendors, as the temptation in sales is to say yes to everything to get the order and sort out the details afterwards.
No solution is going to be a perfect fit and indeed if a vendor says that it is then revisit my comments above. It is therefore important that you grade your requirements so that an otherwise very good system isn’t disregarded because it cannot fulfil an obscure requirement and the baby isn’t thrown out with the bathwater.
Just before you go dashing off to shove a purchase order under the nose of your boss to get his autograph there are some more possibly even more important factors to consider. With the plethora of website analytics vendors available it is likely that more than one system will meet most of your requirements.
Having looked at the products you now need to look at the vendors themselves. Surprisingly you will find more variation amongst the vendors than you will in their products. They vary from huge American global corporations to smaller UK companies ... but bigger does not necessarily mean better.
Consider other important factors like customer support and a flexible approach. Customer support should not be a profit centre for a vendor, in fact the organisation should be built around it.
So you can decide whether you want your technical support delivered from an email address on the US west coast or at the end of a phone or even on site from the developers in the UK.
Finally, and surprisingly, cost is not as an important issue as may be thought.
The market is divided up into three distinct groups. At the bottom are the free or low cost self serve solutions. Fine for the local cricket club website but not recommended for anything more advanced.
At the other end of the market are the big-ticket solutions which tend to differ from the mid range group mostly in depth of data analysis, but a number of the mid range vendors are catching up fast.
Although comparing like for like can need a bit of dissection ie does the price include setup, training and consultancy; most of the mid range solutions are priced remarkably similarly ... or can be made to be with a bit of negotiation.
In any case you should not be focussing so much on the absolute cost but the added value your web analytics investment can give you. As website analytics vendors keep telling us: ‘Its all about Return On Investment’.
What is an important issue is contract period. Outright purchase or a long term ASP or rental deal commits you for a long period. Keeping the vendors on a short leash with a short cancellation period ASP or rental deal will keep them on their toes and gives you the reassurance that if they don’t deliver you can move on without a major loss of investment.
Purchasers often ask for free trials and we do oblige with these requests but it normally takes longer than a standard 30 free day trial period to determine whether the solution is the right one. I would recommend choosing a system as discussed above and negotiate a short notice break clause for an ASP or rental deal. You can always renegotiate a longer-term or outright purchase deal later once you are fully satisfied that you have made the right choice. And if your choice of vendor doesn’t seem keen on this then just remind them of the competition out there.
So if you sort out your requirements before talking to the website analytics vendors, look at the vendors as well as their products and start on a short term deal you shouldn’t go far wrong.
About Maxsi Ltd
Maxsi Ltd has developed the eVisit Analyst (evisitanalyst.com) range of advanced website analysis systems used to great effect by a number of blue chip companies. eVisit Analyst is used by clients in an array of sectors, ranging from business, local government, financial services and academia.