ABOUT THE VENDOR
NetIQ Corporation is a provider of e-business infrastructure management and intelligence for all the components of an organization's e-business infrastructure -- from back-end servers, networks, and directories to front-end web servers and applications. The company is headquartered in San Jose, CA., with development and operational personnel in Houston, TX; Raleigh, NC; Bellevue, WA; Portland, OR; Australia; the United Kingdom; and Japan.
ABOUT THE CLIENT
Based in Austin, Texas, GeoPassage.com offers fully customized vacations to travelers by allowing customers to plan, create and purchase their entire vacation online in minutes based on their personal profile.
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
WebTrends' Web analytics software and eService solutions provide insights into Web site visitors' behavior and preferences that translate into enhanced business performance, including higher returns on infrastructure and eMarketing investments and improved visitor-to-customer conversion rates.
GeoPassage wanted to use Web analytics in order to improve its visitors' Web experience. We spoke with director of Web services Arturo Castellanos about the project.
SearchCRM: Why did you decide to evaluate Web analytics solutions?
Castellanos: We did this a search
In addition, we just wanted to get a better read on our visitors: where they're coming from, what they're looking for, whether they're finding it. Our site has so much information on so many different destinations, we wanted to see which areas people were using the most so we could put more effort into those -- make them more user-friendly and navigable.
SearchCRM: How did you decide on WebTrends?
Castellanos: I had used a really old version of WebTrends in the past, so I had already had them in mind. Then I went to the NetIQ Web site and learned about the newest version. The features it had matched exactly what we were looking for.
SearchCRM: What were you looking for?
Castellanos: We have multiple Web sites served off of multiple servers, and not many companies offer support for stuff like that. That was a huge, huge factor. Ease of administration and the fact that it will e-mail different reports to different people were big selling points. I wanted it to be completely automatic after I had invested the initial time to get it all set up, and I read on the NetIQ site that those sorts of things were possible.
It was also very scalable. For example, we have a separate site for each country that we do travel to. When we reach a critical mass of tour information, we put up a new site. With WebTrends it's pretty easy to add a whole new site and start getting metrics on that site right away.
SearchCRM: How did the installation go?
Castellanos: The installation was the most challenging part of the project. The sites are fairly complicated the way they work together, and the fact that there are multiple servers makes it more difficult. I had to make sure I covered all the bases. The user interface for the setup and administration portions is actually fairly good, so it wasn't too difficult, but it was time consuming because we have so many sites. Then we consulted with everyone in the company to find out what they wanted and at what frequency, and made the changes on the administrative interface. Once it was up, we didn't have any problems at all.
SearchCRM: Can you give some examples of changes you made in response to the metrics?
Castellanos: We changed our home page to reflect the trends we had seen in the prior six months. We figured the different destinations more prominently on the page, and we've actually seen an increase in people going directly to those sites. On the country-specific pages, we changed the layout to match what we were seeing on the WebTrends reports. People were looking for the sections on the cities, attractions, and hotels, so we simplified the path that people had to take to find that information. We've seen results in terms of people staying on the site longer.
We send out a monthly newsletter. Before we did the WebTrends solution, we were manually doing analytics -- eyeballing to see how many people were coming back through the newsletter. We implemented the WebTrends solution and sent out a new HTML version of the newsletter featuring the sites that were featured most prominently in the WebTrends stats. We got a 400 percent jump between the previous newsletter and the one that was optimized by what we saw in WebTrends.
SearchCRM: Have you had any internal resistance?
Castellanos: There wasn't much once people realized what a powerful tool it was. The only resistance was the initial ramp-up where people just weren't accustomed to doing it. Getting people in the habit of checking the stats was the only hump we encountered.
SearchCRM: Do you have advice for companies thinking of starting a similar project?
Castellanos: I would say to decide on which metrics you're most interested in before starting the project so you can optimize for those specific ones. There's more information than anyone can digest at once. For us, we had to sit down with each employee and ask what they wanted to see in their reports and give them the abridged version. Otherwise, it's tons of information, and it gets diluted if there's too much. People don't have lots of time to look at this sort of stuff. If it's digestible and it's concise and it's exactly what they're looking for, then they'll look at it every time the report comes through.
Linda Formichelli's writing has appeared in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at email@example.com, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in January 2002