By Joe Dysart
Web Analytics Update
The Latest Tools for Getting the Most From Your Web and Social-Media Marketing
Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin offer a free website-analytics service that’s considered an industry standard.
Businesses looking to evaluate the return on their efforts in web and social-media marketing can take heart: There are scores of analytical tools available that can precisely show them how well their campaigns are doing.
In social media, those just getting started in analytics would do well to check out Hootsuite. A powerful social-media dashboard that allows users to manage all of their postings and other activities on all the major social-media networks, Hootsuite is also packed with a wide variety of analytical tools that show how well you’re doing on social media.
“Hootsuite is a great place to start,” said Brendan Chard, president of web design company The Modern Firm. “It helps businesses save time by letting them manage and post from all of their accounts in one central place. It also provides really nifty analytics reports that show the effectiveness of your social-media efforts, including visits to your website, social shares and even new contacts/leads as a result of social media.”
Essentially, if you can imagine an analytics report—any kind of analytics report—Hootsuite can most likely come up with the insights you’re looking for, according to Diana Chow, corporate communications coordinator for Hootsuite. Moreover, given that the entry-level use of Hootsuite is free, it’s a great package to cut your teeth on and then use as a benchmark to evaluate other social-media analytics tools.
“Most small firms will be completely satisfied with Hootsuite’s free plan,” Chard said.
Once you’re comfortable using Hootsuite, however, you still may want to add some additional social analytics tools to your arsenal to ensure that you’re getting the deepest look at what’s going on with your social-media marketing. In the process, you may also be able to save some serious coin, according to Ian Anderson Gray, a social-media consultant who writes an insightful blog on social media.
IBM continues to spin off projects from its Watson analytics computer, which gained fame after beating top human contestants on the game show “Jeopardy.”
Gray said that Hootsuite analytics can get very expensive for small businesses if you’re looking to go beyond the three basic analytics reports the online service offers free. He noted that most “enhanced” Hootsuite reports, for example—reports you can tweak to offer insights that are not available from the standard free reports—cost businesses $45 to $50 a pop, depending on the rate plan they chose. Plus, there are other extremely popular analytics reports that you simply must pay for. A Hootsuite report on your activity on LinkedIn, for example, goes for $20 per month, and a report for your activity on Facebook goes for $30 a month.
Given that reality, Gray said that he’d opt for the following reports within Hootsuite:
- Twitter Engagement Report: Useful in looking at your follower growth and daily engagement.
- Facebook Insights: Gives a tad more than Facebook’s free Insights Report but also gives you the convenience of keeping track of Facebook on the Hootsuite dashboard.
- LinkedIn Page Insights: Shows you how the latest LinkedIn updates to your company page are doing. Again, this report is very basic, Gray said.
- Google Analytics: Analyzes basic activity on your website on the Hootsuite dashboard.
“The advantage of Hootsuite reports is that you can have all of your reports in the same place if you are solely using Hootsuite to manage your social channels,” Anderson said. “However, some of the reports are fairly basic. In my opinion, you’ll get more powerful and helpful reports by using third-party tools.”
Third-party providers Gray recommended include:
- SumAll: Offers powerful reports across a wide range of social channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube and more, according to Gray.
- twtrland: For monitoring activity on Twitter.
- Commun.it: Does a good job of segmenting your Twitter followers to show you high-value members within your community, according to Gray.
- Brandwatch: An enterprise solution that is well worth considering, as it is incredibly powerful, according to Anderson.
Meanwhile, for analytics that monitor activity on your website, the free Google Analytics is a good first choice. Like Hootsuite for social media, Google Analytics is an industry standard for website analytics that businesses can learn and then use as a benchmark to evaluate similar tools.
Essentially, Google Analytics measures overall hits on your website, where visitors are coming from, how long visitors are staying on your site, which pages they’re clicking on and more. It also offers some basic social-media monitoring.
In contrast, larger business with deeper pockets looking to get much more sophisticated analytics can go for the premium version of Google Analytics, as well as offerings from other players. According to a report released earlier this year by market-research firm Forrester, top web-analytics packages for the enterprise are made by Adobe, AT Internet, IBM and Webtrends.
“Features such as predictive analytics, support for mobile applications, reach of partner programs and the ability to support customer implementation distinguish one vendor from the next,” said James McCormick, lead author of “The Forrester Wave: Web Analytics Q2 2014.”
McCormick’s take on each product from the heavy hitters:
Adobe: “Adobe dominates the market with the largest number of enterprise web-analytics clients,” McCormick said. Essentially, the company’s mission is to make sophisticated analytics accessible to all marketers.
IBM: IBM has beefed up the Coremetrics software it acquired by enhancing the packages behavioral analytics and mobile analytics capabilities, among other things, according to McCormick. One caveat: “Some customers feel that the licensing model makes it difficult to invest more in it,” McCormick said.
Webtrends: “Webtrends has continued to strengthen its core offering, improving existing capabilities and developing new ones such as its real-time data streaming service,” McCormick said. He added that it’s also investing in integration with other tools, such as online testing.
AT Internet: “AT Internet primarily targets Europe, Russia, Latin America and Southeast Asia to sustain its growth,” McCormick said. Its analytics is built on data collection, aggregation, mining and distribution.