Searching Beyond the Paid

Monday, September 18, 2006

ClickTracks Free Seminars

Today, ClickTracks held another of their excellent, and free, web analytics training sessions. This particular session was entitled "The 7 Deadly Web Analytics Sins," presented by John Marshall, CEO of ClickTracks. Great information presented - John described several mistakes companies make with their web analytics data, and illustrated better ways of using the information.

I especially enjoyed the section on Funnel Analysis. The theory of a web site funnel is basically that, of the large number of visitors your site gets on any given day, a small percentage will actually take the desired action (order something, download a whitepaper or free software, sign up for a subscription, etc.). Many analytics packages perform funnel analysis. The difference with ClickTracks is that ClickTracks doesn't assume a funnel is linear. There isn't one desired path visitors take on their way to the desired action. This makes analysis of the funnel more challenging than it might appear at first, and renders many out-of-the-box funnel analyses meaningless.

I agreed with this notion. However, one could surmise that a shopping cart funnel (not to be confused with an "entire site" funnel) should be linear - after all, you don't want people straying once they've entered the shopping cart, right? So I asked John about this. His answer? Even a shopping cart funnel isn't necessarily linear. People might go to your About Us page or your Home Page to make sure you're a legitimate site. They may check out your privacy policy before providing their credit card and email information. They may decide to add one more item to their cart before finishing their order. All these actions aren't abandons, yet they don't follow the "normal" path through the cart, either.

John was so impressed with my question that he awarded me the "best question" of that section, and he's sending me a free book! It's called "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" by Edward Tufte. OK, it sounds as dry as an MBA stats text, but John assured us it's a really good book! I'm looking forward to receiving it.

As an added bonus, later in the presentation I commented that ClickTracks' What's Changed report is helpful in catching click fraud, and John liked that comment so well, he decided to send me a second free book! This one is called "Envisioning Information," also by Mr. Tufte. Woo hoo! See, folks, it pays to ask questions!

ClickTracks really has analytics options for everyone. From their free Appetizer product to their powerful Pro version (which is what we have), there is a package for every site and every budget. And their free training sessions are always worthwhile.


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