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Beyond Metrics

Primarily an analysis and reporting tool, WebTrends Enterprise Suite 5.0 lacks the "next level" of Web metrics analysis, which is applying the metrics to drive marketing campaigns and to manage customer relationships. Such capabilities are vital to commercial Web site success. There are two ways to meet this need: The first is to use a best-of-breed reporting tool, such as WebTrends, and then have your marketing team develop its own set of criteria, programs, milestones, checkpoints, and so on to drive the marketing effort with the information gleaned from reports. The second is to automate, according to your own defined business rules, as much of this process as possible through a software solution integrated with the Web metrics data.

There are several product offerings in this category, including CommerceTrends 3.0 from WebTrends (pricing starts at $30,000). WebTrends positions this product as a Visitor Relationship Management (VRM) solution. The idea is to develop e-business intelligence that combines Web behavioral data, gathered through Web analytics, with other enterprise data„such as your CRM and ERP systems„to drive targeted marketing strategies. These include e-marketing programs delivered to the customer via personalized Web pages. The goal is what WebTrends terms V2C: turning visitors into customers. CommerceTrends currently runs on Sun Solaris, Red Hat Linux, and Microsoft Windows 2000/NT platforms and supports Oracle 8i and Microsoft SQL v7.0 databases, with additional database support in development.

Other alternatives include iLux Suite 2000 (www.ilux.com), Net Perceptions (www.netperceptions.com), and Accrue (www.accrue.com). I looked specifically at iLux Suite 2000, which comprises iLux Enterprise and iLux Campaign Manager. Its Web metrics capabilities are extensive and similar to WebTrends. Indeed, iLux Suite 2000 can be purchased as a stand-alone product. However, its Campaign Manager automates both traditional and e-marketing campaigns based on the Web metrics gathered and the business rules in place. These targeted marketing campaigns can include email, dynamic banners, electronic coupons, and pop-up billboards, all defined, scheduled, delivered, and monitored from within iLux. Thus, as iLux Enterprise tracks your customers' purchasing patterns, iLux Campaign Manager personalizes follow-on marketing to drive a one-to-one customer relationship on your Web site and in traditional channels.

If your goal is Web traffic analysis, WebTrends is a flexible, cost-effective solution. But if your goal is to drive marketing campaigns based on that data, you should consider a VRM package like iLux Suite 2000 or CommerceTrends 3.0. The ROI on such a product, of course, depends on your e-commerce volume and the nature of the marketing campaigns you run.
—EB