Tuesday, December 16, 2008

3 Free Web Metrics & Analytics Tools

Article #2 in the series “Simple Steps to the Social Web”
Exciting new tools for measuring web traffic and analytics are constantly emerging. A great thing about them is that you don’t need a big budget or expertise as a web analytics specialist to use these tools. So don’t be intimidated by the fact that this post is about web analytics, remember that Social Made Simple is all about making the social web accessible.

Let’s say you’re a marketer at a slow-to-change company. The down economy is putting the squeeze on your budgets. You need to convince management about the importance of online marketing. In order to do so, you’d like to show some statistics about the traffic on your company’s sites. It would be ideal if you could have data such as who’s visiting your sites, how long do people stay on your site, what are the demographics, what other sites do these people frequent and the competition stacks up.

Here are some key tools that can be used to collect this kind of information quickly and all it costs is your time.
1. Quantcast – a measurement service that provides audience reports for millions of web sites. Used by media buyers, the free component of this service provides data on traffic, demographics and lifestyle. Take note of the detailed demographics broken down by this source. I've tested it against client provided data - and the alignment is impressive.

2. Compete – provides free web site data including site traffic, engagement and competitive analytics via their Site Analytics and Trust Scores tools. I particularly find the engagement metrics displayed in the second image below to be quite useful - as all the site traffic in the world won't due you any good if everyone bounces after one or two pages.

3. Forrester Groundswell Profile Tool – provides a free Social Technographics® profile of your target audience based upon their age, gender and location. While this tool does generalize in broad strokes, it is useful in understanding your audience and what kind of experience resonates well with them.

I encourage you to bookmark each of these sites and to begin using these tools. Try them out by inputting your company's web sites and comparing the statistics to those provided by your internal resources. See how the data aligns; as well as where descrepancies exist. Then look into your competition - or relevant examples across industries. This will certainly help you understand some strengths and weaknesses of your online properties. 

I believe you'll find yourself accessing this data often - and sharing it with your associates which will help your organization make more informed decisions.

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