Web analytics tools, traditionally stand-alone products used to measure web site hits, are increasingly being integrated with other key tools to become the "brains" behind enterprise marketing efforts, according to a report released this week.
Phil Kemelor, an analyst at CMS Watch, a consulting firm that evaluates content management technologies, said the company's survey found that many large companies are integrating web analytics tools into applications like email campaign software and keyword bid-management tools in the hopes of using them to plan, run and adjust Internet marketing activities.
However, he said, the Web Analytics Report also concluded that many workers involved in such efforts lack the expertise and training to use the tools effectively.
The report is based on CMS interviews with the customers of 13 web analytics suppliers and tests of the tools they make, he said.
"Companies know that they have to constantly measure their campaigns," he said. "Some of the more interesting or more sophisticated use of analytics is actually having analytics fuel business-rule-driven marketing."
For example, he said, some companies are using web analytics tools to import results into an email campaign application that will kick off the next campaign automatically using rules based on results from the first campaign, he added.
But the report found that many companies are unable to take full advantage of tools they are buying, Kemelor said. "There are certain tools that are probably not used to their full potential because the customers don't have the right resources or their people aren't savvy enough to really use the tools. It is almost like buying a Ferrari and driving it like a Honda Civic."
To avoid such pitfalls, Kemelor suggests that companies decide which users will access web analytics tools and then work with those users to come up with their specific needs. Then, he said, a company can ensure that it buys the right tool for its needs.
The report also found that:
-- Vendors are starting to roll out new data mining and customer segmentation tools that promise to help users more effectively focus online marketing projects;
-- Many companies underestimate the expertise required to use new data mining and segmentation tools; and
-- More advanced data and process integration requirements for web analytics tools and projects are prompting web marketing employees to increase their reliance on IT instead of using them on their own.