Implementing a Web Analytics Tool

December 27, 2008

Now that we have spent the last couple of months talking to the different web analytics providers and finally choosing one (a trick that I have learned through the years is to try and sign the contract at the end of a quarter, that is where you will usually get the best deals), now is it time to implement it. Again, keep in mind that at this point in my career I was still new to web analytics and did not know all of the tricks and tools that I now today (will get to those in a later post). I have never installed a web analytics tool before, so what am I supposed to do? As I mentioned before, one of the reasons why we choose Coremetrics was because of their customer service and at that time they assigned an Account Analyst to every client. Each Account Analyst had no more than 10 clients, which seems like a lot, but not every client utilized them. I knew that being new to web analytics and no one else in my company knew anything about web analytics that I was going to utilize the Account Analyst. The first thing that I did was go through the implementation manual and find out what I needed to do. After reading the implementation manual, I realized that Coremetrics had several JavaScript tags that needed to be put on the site on different pages at different times.

They had a page view file (needed to go on every page), technical properties file (really should go on every page), and various shopping cart tags (to determine what as added to the cart, what was removed, and what was purchased). The first thing I had to do was giving our developer all of the JavaScript files and tells him which tags to put on which pages. The next item that I needed to do was determine what I wanted the name of each page to be. We tried to keep it fairly simple and use part of the title for the page name. Then I had to determine which category a product would fall in when it was purchased.

This would seem like a relatively easy thing to do, but we had the same the product in multiple categories, not to mention visitors could add a product to the cart directly from search and I wanted to give credit to the search category for the sale. This proved trickier than I had hoped from a technical standpoint because of the back-end system we used. Fortunately, the developer was able to figure out a way to get this done. Though we still had a lot of products categorized under “No Category” and I spent a long time trying to research. To make sure the information was getting passed the way that I wanted it to, I used Coremetrics de-bugging tool. After we had finished all of this tagging, I wanted to make sure our search reporting was going to be useful. For our internal search, we had a drop down box and an open text field, where the visitors could either choose the manufacturer or type it in the text box.

No matter which one the visitor choose, the search looked the same, so I had no idea of the drop down box was working or if the text field was working. What I decided to do is if a visitor used the drop box, we passed an asterisk (*) after the search term. This made it easy to see which search box the visitor was using and we then tie revenue back to the search box and search term used. I was to accomplish all of this from reading the implementation guide and with the help of my Account Analyst. Unfortunately, I do not think many companies give each client an account analyst anymore unless you spend a certain amount with them. This typically puts the smaller companies at a disadvantage. I would recommend, when you are looking at your budget for web analytics, that you reserve some money for a consultant (through the web analytics provider or from a third party) to help with best practices on the implementation and/or for reporting, even if it is for a short engagement.


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