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Web analytics and beyond ... it's a multichannel world

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Web content management systems (WCMs) are evolving into customer experience management tools that provide tailored experiences to each site visitor. However, the relevance of the experience depends on knowing enough about the visitor to provide appropriate information and suggestions. "When you know what parts of the website people are visiting and what their purchasing history is," says Canaway, "you can create rules on the website and offer them the best experience based on their persona."

Many options are available for companies that want to use Web analytics to improve business performance. "Tools such as Google Analytics and analytics modules within Web content management tools allow companies to monitor marketing campaigns and reactions to new content," says Stanhope. "However, in order to gain an in-depth understanding or analyze data across channels, they will need to incorporate an analytics tool with enterprise analytics features." 

From strategy to data

In order to use Web analytics successfully, companies must take a series of actions that range from forming a high-level plan to achieving a detailed understanding of their data. "The first requirement is for companies to create and articulate their analytic strategy," says John Lucker, principal at Deloitte and global advanced analytics and modeling market leader. "Too often, they are focusing on a specific, tactical question that does not necessarily solve the highest value problem."

Analyses should then be tied to the key performance indicators (KPIs) derived from the strategic plan. "Once the strategic plan is defined, many different issues can be addressed," continues Lucker. "For example, companies focusing on customer acquisition can analyze the behavior of new visitors to the website to find the quickest way to convert them to customers, looking at how long they spent on each page, their path through the website and how to get them back to the site."

Harmonizing Web data with that contained in traditional operational and business intelligence (BI) systems remains a problem, according to Lucker. "Integrating data from Web analytics with that contained in legacy data warehouses is not a trivial issue," he says. In fact, often the integration of data from multiple online channels such as websites and mobile devices is more straightforward, because the systems are newer and the data is more uniform. "From a risk perspective," adds Lucker, "the way in which the data from multiple and highly differentiated systems gets transformed and normalized to map against the analytical fields is something to be concerned about."

Despite the relatively large percent of companies that are already using Web analytics, Lucker says, "Companies are just beginning to scratch the surface of getting value from their data. Rather than focus on what is trendy, they should take a pragmatic approach and put the data to work."

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