According to a new Report from Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR), today’s shallow valuation of Web site success fails to provide the insight needed to steer online efforts. To accurately quantify success, sites must examine visitor profiles and online behavior, instead of the number of page views. Leaders will extend this analysis to other channels, creating a unified customer view and driving personalization.
“Using hits and page views to judge a site’s success is like evaluating a musical performance by its volume,” said Eric Schmitt, analyst in Commerce Site Research. “This practice doesn’t consider the site’s visitor experience, and subsequently, it doesn’t reflect business goals.”
To support business goals, firms need a robust Web intelligence model capable of accommodating new strategies and technologies. The cornerstone of Web intelligence is the ability to uniquely identify and segment users. This model is also based upon discrete, significant visitor actions, like sending email, buying gifts, or participating in chat rooms. Tracking various paths that customers carve interactively though a commerce site provides a complete evaluation of a visitor experience.
In addition to using Web intelligence as a means of gauging site success, leaders will tie measurement infrastructure directly into operational applications. Web intelligence must form the foundation for personalization and one-to-one sales. Beyond identifying attractive customer segments, firms will link front- and back-office applications to Web measurement systems to aid client acquisition. Leads will be fed across channels to a corporate sales system that enables salespeople to identify and profile hot prospects.
According to Forrester Research, no single vendor supplies all the tools or services required for a Web intelligence infrastructure. Most companies will need three or more suppliers to meet supporting system and service needs. Since both Web and data warehousing solutions are required, companies that sell online will seek the expertise of eCommerce integrators to design and implement an intelligent infrastructure. Firms that are short on resources or that don’t sell online can farm out Web intelligence to the growing field of marketing services integrators. eCommerce followers should employ turnkey, marketing-centric services, which combine data extraction, warehousing, and reporting and analysis service packages.
“For personalization to succeed, a library of rich visitor profiles must be present,” added Schmitt. “But many companies will lead with the wrong decision, buying software engines that they cannot properly fuel. The poor data file being used will result in overeager personalization, reducing customer retention, margins, and sales.”
For the Report “Measuring Web Success,” Forrester interviewed 50 Global 2,500 firms to determine how they measure the success of their Web initiatives. Hits and page views represent the most popular means of judging success. Three-fourths of interviewees use low-cost measurement tool packages, yet they expressed dissatisfaction with the performance, storage, and trustworthiness of these tools.