The world of marketing products, especially those with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) pricing model is multiplying at an alarming level. Many of these techstartups fail due to poor execution, inability to gain significant traction and the killer of all startups, the running out of funding to support costs and salaries. Those who make through tend to focus on a specific problem, e.g. identifying who the web visitors are. As they gain traction, they have no option but to expand their offering to capture a larger footprint as well as increase revenues per customer via ever increasing functionality rich monthly or annual subscription plans.
We at UnifiedVU are obsessed with Single Customer View (SCV). Today, larger companies are using many software products to acquire and retain customers in order to generate revenues, collect payments, and manage and motivate their staff.
In our journey to understand the problems faced by customers both small and large, it makes sense for us to understand the plethora of products operating in the web analytics world.
With that in mind, we prepared the following diagram, which we like to invite you to comment in order for us to improve our understanding so that we can help our customers better.
Lets try to dissect above. First of all, what layers have I missed? Secondly, I will draw my own experiences of operating a niche social network, edocr.com, which helps companies both small and large use their existing document collateral such as brochures, white papers and case studies, as well as supporting documents such as user manuals to build brand awareness, generate demand for their products and services, and capture leads.
Getting back to the diagram, there are many interactions which takes place outside your website. I’ve ignored them and their interactions for simplicity of discussion. I’ve also categorised those who visit your website to Visitors who may browse your website intentionally or landed due to certain activity they performed elsewhere, to Users who use one or more products and services you offer without paying for it in monetary terms, and Customers who pay for products and services you offer, whether they are sold online or offline.
Layer 1 – Global Rankings (Benchmarking against competition)
Marketers are obsessed with how their site performs against their competitors. Whilst not accurate, Alexa is a good measure for benchmarking, especially if you assume they make the same mistakes in measuring traffic of yours and competitors’ websites. You could get more accurate results when you add their script but there is no guarantee that your competitors have done the same for accurate benchmarking. There are others in the market place offering similar solutions including Comcast, which in fact require you to add their script for monitoring.
Layer 2 – Web Traffic Analysis
At this layer, all we are trying to understand is that your site actually gets traffic, what are the hotspots for bringing traffic (visitors, users and customers) both in terms of geography and other sites, what devices and browsers they access your site with and how your site perform day in day out with ability to compare to past performance. Google’s free Google Analytics is the market leader in this segment. Almost all websites use this feature rich product with no limitation of consultants ever ready to help you understand the functionality and how to get an understanding of your site’s performance. Whilst Google Analytics now offer real-time monitoring, startups such as UK’s GoSquared is working hard to provide real-time traffic monitoring services. Others in the market include WebTrends and Chartbeat, two products I have not trialled or used in the post. Do let us know what products you use for this purpose.
Layer 3 – Visitor Identification
At this layer, you are trying to make sense of who your traffic is, especially if its not an online service (e.g. not a SaaS product or eCommerce site). In most cases, you cannot easily derive the identify of the visitor, user or customer without the individual filing a form. Capturing of IP address isn’t simply sufficient. Manchester startup, CANNDi is one company I’m aware of who is trying to address this issue. Whilst I know CANDDi, I have never used the product, so perhaps someone who has used the product could comment on its effectiveness.
Layer 4 – User Analytics
At this layer, you are no longer happy with simply knowing who your traffic is. You now want to have analytics around specific individuals. I’ve been an early adopter of Woopra, which I used daily on edocr to understand user patterns. However, just like many other products in the market place, today Woopra is quite expensive due to ever increasing range of functionality, which brings it to direct competition with layer 7 product leaders. As products mature and start bloating in functionality, you are also driven to reduce the number of products used. Best of breed becoming fuzzy. A constant challenge companies face. A re-correction is needed almost every 2 years these days, if not sooner.
Layer 5 – User and Customer On-boarding
Intercom.io is the market leader in this category with the new entrant retain.cc, which is currently free. Whilst I have been a fan of Intercom from day 1, its pricing has kept us using only the free service. Today, Intercom has consolidated its offering into observe, learn, engage and retain, with functionality that even threaten email marketing services, especially transaction emails. Communicating with users and customers at the right time is so crucial today in order to convert them to paying customers and then retain them with your service. Intercom is so good at doing this, if the pricing works for you, I would suggest you trial their service.
Layer 6 – User Engagement
You could almost argue that this layer should really be before User and Customer On-boarding layer, as visitors, users and customers can all engage at this level through a large number of products in the market place from chat services such as recently acquired Zopim by Zendesk, and Olark. Feedback services such as Qualaroo and WebEngage are key tools in today’s growth hacker’s arsenal.
Layer 7 – Customer Optimisation
At this layer, its about becoming intelligent. Its about tuning your workflows to ensure more and more users end up being customers. Kissmetrics and Mixpanel have been two companies that have excelled in this area. Their high pricing also kept me away from using them at edocr as we ran a large user community. But I’m optimistic at trialling them at UnifiedVU.
In Summary, you need to map out the workflows applicable to your business before delving into purchasing these amazing products. Good thing is that these days, you can try each of these products free for a duration before having to depart with your hard earned cash. Best of breed approach as I have discussed above may not be practical for you based on the complexity and size of operation, where you would need to train a number of staff. More products mean bigger training budget. As discussed before, you also need to be fully aware that some services ditch great functionality (e.g. Woopra ditching chat functionality) whilst others brings ever increasing range of new functionality which could make some of the other products you use redundant overnight. Instead of every 2 years as I’ve mentioned before, every 6 months is perhaps more effective for your tool review.
At UnifiedVU, we want to ensure that we adopt tools to ensure high usage of Apps we built.
At Apps level, its not just us who need to know their usage to on-boarding, but also administrators of customer accounts with respect to usage by their employees.
We’ve started this process by first adding Google Analytics to all of the 7 Apps we built so far. We’ve already started discussions with some of the companies mentioned above to understand how we can provide better feedback to our customers, as well as us. Keep tuned folks.
Love to hear your thoughts on web analytics. Many apologies if I missed mentioning your brilliant product. Now is the time to correct me.
PS: Do get in touch if you like to be invited to trial the UnifiedVU Platform currently with 7 Apps (4 edocr + 2 CapsuleCRM + 1 Google Map). Planned Apps include FullContact (being coded), Duedil and Xero.
Other services to add:
- Layer 1 – Similar Web