Sarah Hodges

Which analytics tool is the ‘best’?

In Vendor Selection, Web Analytics on November 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm


This question makes me cringe. You want me to tell you what you need in your analytics toolbox? Do you want me to tell you which flavor of ice cream you should like too?

Roll up your sleeves and put on your work boots- it’s time to do some heavy lifting. No single tool is a magic fit for all organizations. Every solid vendor selection process starts with digging deep to evaluate your business needs, establish your KPIs and determine your reporting requirements.

Less is more. It’s easy to feel like a kid in an ice cream shop when you first start out. So many choices! So many features!

But remember your ice cream sundae game plan when you were a tyke? Bubble gum ice cream with peanut butter chips, gummy bears, butterscotch sauce, whipped cream nuts and a cherry; pile up add-ons until you make yourself sick. When it comes to analytics tools, sometimes all you need is a solid vanilla bean with some homemade chocolate fudge.

Start with what you want to measure. Get all your key stakeholders in a room and map out the metrics you’d like to track. No harm in brainstorming! The sky’s the limit, and you’re building the ultimate wish list.

Then, ask yourself why. It’s time to narrow your list down to a critical few. Why do you want to measure it? What will you do if you have this information? How is it actionable? Every metric you’re tracking should be tied to insight that will provide a health check for your business and enable you to identify meaningful optimization opportunities.

Now, figure out how you’ll measure it. Now you’re ready to take a good hard look at the tools on the market to figure out how they stack up against your requirements. You’ve got a concrete list to take to vendors to determine whether the tool can meet your reporting needs and how easy it will be to get at the data. Sure, it’s fun to indulge in the bells & whistles, but don’t let yourself get distracted from the critical stuff you’ve just worked so hard to tease out.

Don’t forget about segments! You’ve built a solid foundation for analysis; now it’s time to bubble up some juicy data through segmentation. Start simple- make sure the tool you choose will enable you to segment visitors by basic lifecycle type (prospect, trial user, customer, etc.). How important is it for you to be able to be able to drill down by product type? Usage? Behavioral characteristics? The answers will determine whether you need a tool that enables a sophisticated integration with your CRM, or whether you can get by with enhancing a basic implementation with a few small custom tweaks.

Which analytics platform is the best? You tell me!


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