Why is choosing a web analytics solution a decisive step? In addition to the human and financial costs associated with any new solution, it will also determine the integrity and relevance of any future decisions you will make. Choosing a web analytics solution can also be seen as committing to a long-term project. Once your web analytics solution is in place and people have become used to working with it, it often becomes difficult to change people’s habits.
Before you start, and if you are thinking about investing in a web analytics solution soon, then you should read this article which has been largely inspired by AT Internet’s white paper on “Choosing a Web Analytics solution” by Jacques Warren, Digital Marketing specialist and CEO of WAO Marketing.
- 1. Connectivity
Web analytics must form part of a general approach to optimise and develop your digital strategy. The web analytics tool must therefore be easy to integrate into your work environment. If your data is to be shared with other systems in your company (your CRM in particular), or if your analyses are limited to measuring activity on your website, the solution’s capabilities of performing these tasks will become increasingly important.
- 2. Professional services
We recommend that you rely on, and contact your chosen solution’s professional services during the first year after purchasing the solution. Not doing so for fear of spending too much money will be a costly error in the long term. The quality and range of services on offer is an important criterion.
- 3. Data storage infrastructure
Some solutions offer to host your web analytics tool internally (which you are responsible for). This has significant advantages in terms of flexibility. However, the disadvantages of such flexibility are associated with the costs of infrastructure, application supports and updates, which for many companies can become sky-high. With outsourcing, the partial loss of control and increased dependency is compensated by simplifying tasks since the publisher is responsible for infrastructure maintenance.
- 4. Respecting legal requirements
Your service provider is obliged to show that they respect the legislation in force relating to data collection, the nature of the data collected, and data protection etc. The service provider must provide information on the type of data that you can collect. Different publishers have very strict laws on the information that different data collection activities leave on their servers.
- 5. Real-time analyses
Even if few companies have a flexible structure in place to respond straight away and take full advantage of what real time has to offer, a solution’s capability to process data in real time may be an important criterion for selection. Further information on this topic is available in our blog post: “How real time analyses are going to become essential to your company”.
- 6. Documentation, language and support
This point (which might seem secondary) should not be ignored because on the long-term, having access to documentation which is available in the customer’s language is a decisive factor behind successful implementation, the different configurations of the tool and its daily use. As far as the support is concerned, you should always pay attention to the level of service provided (availability, responsiveness and expertise).
- 7. Present and future costs
You must be able to anticipate the costs associated with your solution for a period of 3 years. The costs associated with the solutions normally include support costs, whereas invoicing traffic volume is repeated on a regular basis. In any case the Web Analytics solution which you purchase may be modular, with different features that are available at an extra charge.
- 8. Supplier reliability
Before committing to any solution on the long-term, you also need to be sure about the publisher’s past experience and general state of the company. You should view your relationship with your solution provider as a partnership rather than as a simple relationship of client and provider because your solution will assist and accompany you for a period of several years.
- 9. Features
Don’t be dazzled by the large numbers of features available. Any publisher with a serious product will, of course, have a wide range of features to offer. When choosing a web analytics solution, think about the objectives to be reached and the variables and metrics which are essential to your project, and closely examine how each solution can provide you with the results that you expect.
- 10. Test the solution
Do not hesitate to ask any solution provider if you can test their solution. This is a great opportunity to check a system’s real performance. You can test the solution without having to carry out any complicated tagging on the site. In any case, be wary of any potential solution provider who is hesitant in letting you try their solution.
- 11. Service level (SLA)
Only consider providers of solutions who are ready to legally commit to their performance and service levels and who are in a position to provide details on their contingency plans in the event of extreme situations.
- 12. Data ownership
Find out if it is possible to retrieve any data collected by the publisher. Some publishers may hold on to the data for a limited period of time.
Keep in mind that the tool must, above all, meet your analysis objectives and allow you to monitor your KPIs with increased efficiency.