Businesses bolster online marketing with analytics


Many businesses are trying to bolster online marketing campaigns by integrating Web analytic tools with their marketing software, says a recent CMS Watch report.

Data generated by Web analytics is imported into e-mail campaign and keyword bid-management applications and used to strategically execute the next round of marketing activities.

“This really makes sense from an integrated marketing perspective,” said Phil Kemelor, lead analyst with CMS Watch Web Analytics report.

CMS Watch is an Olney, MD-based consulting firm that evaluates content management technologies.

The report was based on interviews with 13 Web analytics suppliers.

The idea of integrating tools – whether from one or multiple vendors – makes sense from a customer perspective, said Kemelor.

He said companies may have one vendor for search marketing, another for e-mail campaigns, and yet another for cross selling. “So the idea is to be able to integrate the analytics data into these other tools.”

Customers want to take advantage of tools they already have, a fact recognized by pure play business analytics software vendors. For instance, some customers – instead of purchasing the pre-integrated BI suite from SAS Institute Inc. – would opt for specific modules, says Andy Bober, senior manager of customer intelligence solutions at SAS.

“A lot of times, we’re brought into companies that may already have another tool, or [that] want to do something a little different.”

However, Bober said by adopting a single-vendor approach to integration, companies can ensure the various modules will interoperate.

The “harness what you have” makes perfect sense, according to Mark Morton, product marketing manager with Cognos Inc. “If you already have a set of tools in place, why not use those? It’s a very sensible approach [and] does work quite well.”

While the approach has been around for several years, it’s gaining traction, said Morton.

The availability of integrated suites from vendors – such as SAS and Cognos – has been driven by recent consolidations in the Web analytics marketplace, said Kemelor. “Vendors are trying to make the promise of integration a reality.”

He cited the acquisition of Instadia A/S, a provider of Web analytics tools by Omniture Inc., an Orem, UT–based vendor of business optimization software. Omniture announced plans to integrate Instadia Instant Survey, a Web site customer survey tool into its online business optimization offering.

The CMS report also found that online marketing folk who use integrated Web analytics tools need increasingly to rely on the IT department.

“I think that if marketing owns the analytics tools, they are really going to need to involve their IT folks more,” Kemelor said. “They’re going to need that full understanding of how systems work together.”

For instance, he said, marketing staff may need assistance with managing import and export of data from the analytics tool into a corporate data warehouse.

Bober said he’s observed varying degrees of IT reliance among organizations, particularly those in retail where Web sites tend to be more complex.

“Depending on how [the Web analytics tools] are capturing data, it requires a lot of ongoing maintenance – not the kind that a marketing person is going to want to do.”

“Changing prices, model numbers, product colours, whatever that change is, [keeping] up with all that, and maintaining your metadata is onerous.” Morton agreed that adding Web analytics to the equation complicates the situation.

“As soon as the Web is involved in some sort of application, there is by default more IT involvement. There are more groups: the Web server management group, IT infrastructure group, network group.”

Outsourcing the project in part or in its entirety is another option, he said.

Morton suggested organizations looking to integrate multiple vendor tools should use providers with prior experience of such an implementation.

There are, however, drawbacks to such integration, he said. In particular, it’s important to ensure that applying updates and patches to one tool will not have an adverse effect to another.

He said when selecting multiple vendor tools its imperative that the architectures are compatible.


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