Changing Web Analytics Vendors…..Should You Do It?

January 8, 2009

That is an interesting question, one that I have seen on the Yahoo Board a few times and one that I asked a couple of years ago. Should you change web analytics vendors? The answer is it depends on your company and the situation of your company. A couple of years ago, my company was in the position to consider switching web analytics vendors. It was a very long and complicated and one that we did not want to go into lightly. Before switching web analytics, you need think about why you want to switch vendors. Think customer service will be better at the other company (we always do, right)? You like some of the other reports at the other vendor? You want to have all of your reports in real time? Your reports are not processing in a timely manner? I could go on with a lot more questions that might get you thinking about switching web analytics vendors. All of these questions are reasonable things to look at and consider, but really there is only one question that you should be asking. Are you fully utilizing your current web analytics solution and is it helping you answers your business questions. Well, ok that is two questions. The answer to the second question will help you answer the question to the first. We should have probably asked ourselves this question in the beginning. Instead we decided to start the Proof of Concept (POC). During the POC we spent a lot of time doing a deep analysis between the two tools, comparing feature for feature. At this point, we still really had not really asked ourselves if our current vendor was helping us answering our business question. Some might argue that you can ask this question during the POC.

A POC takes a lot of time and effort and before you invest this kind of time and energy, it might be worth asking the question before you start a POC with another vendor. Though we should have asked ourselves what our business questions were, what we did know is where our current vendor was not meeting our expectations. Just because they were not meeting our expectations, does that mean we should switch vendors? Not necessarily, you should express to your currently web analytics vendor where you think they are not meeting your expectations. They might be able to give you some suggestions on how to accomplish your tasks. Unfortunately, what we ran into was our current analytics vendor was not able to give any suggestions on how to answer our questions. Though some of our questions were put on the roadmap for future releases, we just were not sure if the roadmap was going to answer our questions. During the POC, we went to each department to see which solution could better answer their questions.

Though we were aware that the POC was not fully implemented, we implemented a large portion of our site. After we went to each department and received their feedback, after a very lengthy POC, and after several conversations about each tool we locked ourselves in a room for several hours to make a decision. Any time you consider switching to another company, it is a very difficult decision especially if you have been with that vendor for three or four years. We went over the feature comparison with everyone in the room and stated our business objectives so everyone could make their decision on which they thought would do a better job answering these questions. After the first round of voting, we realized that we had to focus our business objectives even more. We finally broke it down to the single more important that our company wanted to focus on for the next couple of years. After we focused our business objectives even more, this helped our answer our make our decision. After a second round of voting, one vendor was the clear choice for us. We decided to switch vendors, whom we thought was the better option for us. Believe me, this decision was not made without some great difficulty and was a very hard decision. We had to make sure we were switching for the right reasons and not just because it was a new tool with new features, but we made a decision that we thought was in the best interest of the company. Of course, any time you switch vendors, it comes with a great deal of costs and not just the implementation fee, but the cost to finish the POC implementation and the cost to train everyone on a new tool. Not to mention the cost of getting your data out of your old web analytics solution.

Yes, the data is yours, but in order to get our data we had to download each of the reports from the interface and store it on our servers. Then there is also the added complexity of different metrics definitions that we had to contend with because we wanted to upload our old web analytics data into our new tool. After some time has passed, do I still believe that switching vendors was the best decision? Yes I do. It may not be the right thing to do for all companies and it did not come without some frustrations (isn’t there always). 🙂

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2 Responses to “Changing Web Analytics Vendors…..Should You Do It?”

  1. Colin Says:

    Hi Richard – what about losing data when switching web analytics vendors. What are your experiences or recommendations? Do people tend to just leave the data and start anew? Port all the relevant data? On a scale of 1-10 what’s the pain level here? 10 being very painful. Thanks!

    • webanalyticsguy Says:

      Colin – according to the web analytics contracts that I have seen, all of the data is yours. However, there is nothing in the contract that says how easy or hard the vendor you are leaving will make it on you to get the data. When our company left the vendor, there were definitely some challenges in getting the data (we had to manual download all of the reports for the entire history we were with the vendor). As I am sure you are aware, no two vendors are alike and each one has their own reporting not to mention calculates basic metrics (page views, visits, uniques) differently. After we download all of the reports for the entire history, we stored it in a database so we could have the historical data. Then for the basic metrics, we uploaded those into our new vendor with a very clear notation of what is the old vendor’s data so we could at least have some sort of trending for the basic stuff. Switching vendors was definitely a pain, though I would not say it was a 10 it was certainly high (probably give it a 7). Was it worth the switch? Even at a 7 pain level, training users on the new system, and the money, I think it was worth it for us. We had pushed the current vendor to the limits and it was not helping us answer our business questions.


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