In the past few months, I have heard many questions about selecting the right enterprise analytics tool. Organizations are either evaluating their current vendor, or making a decision to invest in a paid enterprise analytics tool for the first time. Many of these organizations have been using free tools like Google Analytics, and now feel like it is time to take their analytics game to the next level.
I have decided to put together a short list of criteria to keep in mind when deciding where to invest your money. As you are reading this post, please keep in mind the following:
- This is not a feature by feature comparison but rather a short guide of criteria to keep in mind before you begin evaluating all the technical features and product characteristics.
- Although I tried to remain unbiased while putting this together, I want to acknowledge that InfoTrust is a Google Analytics Certified Partner and Google Analytics Premium Reseller.
- Even if you are tempted, do not go to the website of one of these solutions before you define some of these requirements. These tools will promise to have all the features you need to solve the world’s greatest problems; the question is what percentage of the functionality you’ll end up using.
1. Limitations of the free tool. “Enterprise level solution,” sounds important, but what does it really mean? There are a number of free web analytics tools on the market – Piwik,Google Analytics, and mixpanel (under 25,000 data points) are the most common ones. The question to ask yourself is what can’t I do with a free tool? I suggest being very specific in outlining these limitations. Keep in mind that if your traffic does not reach the limits enforced by the free tool, you always have an option to spend the money on an analyst to work on tool customization and data analysis instead.
2. Total cost of ownership. Webtrends’ price varies based on server call volumes; SiteCatalyst’s price varies based on server call volume and additional add-on tools. However, beyond the price of the tool, how much will you have to invest in the solution implementation? Will the implementation cost be covered by the price of the tool? Keep in mind that you might need to hire an outside consulting company to help with implementation and utilization of all the paid features.
3. Account management and support. Who are you going to call? This is a big question that often carries a hefty price. When it comes to your data, you do not want just a 1-800 number, you want dedicated support. Is this support an additional cost or is it part of the price of solution?
4. Metrics your team needs. The answer to this question is tied to the goals and KPIs of your organization. Tools like Adobe SiteCatalist, Google Analytics Premium and IBM Coremetrics will offer you every report possible, the question is to know what information you need to help you make ongoing marketing decisions. Talk with different stakeholders, and identify what information is necessary and how it should be delivered. This will not only help with selecting a tool, but with tool configuration.
5. Data democratization. This is an interesting item to keep in mind, as it consists of numerous criteria:
- Metrics and dashboards for different people – everyone in your organization can use quality and actionable analysis. The key is to identify what matters for different departments, and being able to create custom reports, dashboards and alerts to meet everyone’s needs.
- User management – how can you manage users and user provisions? For example, inside Google Analytics Premium there are only two types of user accounts: Users and Administrators. Make a list of people inside the organization and define what you would want to allow everyone to be able to do. Do not overcomplicate this as ongoing user management might be a tough task.
- Department wide training. It is not enough to train a person who will be the web analytics owner inside the organization. Everyone who wants and needs to use the tool will have to be properly trained.
6. Ease of use. Take a look at the products screen by screen, report by report, and compare how intuitive these tools are. If you are going to create an analytics driven culture inside your organization, the tool you select should be easy to use.
7. Training and consulting. How easy is it to going to be to find additional training and consulting, if necessary. For example, Google Analytics has an extensive partner network and WebTrends has a list of global partners. It is important to consider the market price for training and consulting around the solution you select. There are more agencies that are skilled in Google Analytics, and so it might be easier and cheaper to find a qualified trainer/consultant.
8. Free education and knowledge base. I love Google Analytics for this feature. There is an unlimited amount of free content about making Google Analytics work for your organization. And since Google Analytics Premium is built on top of all the features that Google Analytics has to offer, this offering is very important. Google Analytics University on YouTube has over 100 videos with excellent content. Additionally, there are excellent blogs that can help you get acquainted with the tool and its functionality. There are also a number of online Google Analytics user communities.
9. Going beyond traditional features. As mentioned before, I am not going to have an extensive excel table comparing features of different web analytics solutions. However, keep in mind the following analytics functionality when selecting your solution. Will you have to pay extra for this functionality:
- Mobile analytics – analytics for mobile sites and mobile applications.
- Social analytics – how social media impacts your traffic and conversions.
- Cost data import – can you import cost data from other sources.
- Advanced segmentation – this is the key to website optimization.
- Attribution modeling – different marketing tactics contribute to your conversions, what is the right breakdown for your marketing mix.
- A/B Testing – does the solution offer you the ability to run tests to optimize for conversions?
- Real time – who is using your website right now? We are real-time analytics fanatics, check-out the video:
10. Data export. In an age when every enterprise is curious about data warehousing, the ability to export your data and integrate it with your CRM or data warehouse is an important evaluation criterion. However, this only matters if you know what you will be able to do with the data that you export. Do you have the resources to extract data via API plot it against other data sources and mine it for actionable information?
Will it get you there? Ultimately, this is the test. There is no perfect tool, they all have leaks. Your goal is to move forward, so you have to ask yourself what you REALLY need and which tool can help you achieve your goals fastest, cheapest and easiest.