Who’s That Knocking On Your Web?

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Who’s That Knocking On Your Web?
D. Geller - April 25th, 2000

Event Summary

Coremetrics launched its eLuminate visitor analysis service by announcing that more than thirty customers have already selected it. Coremetrics claims to analyze the relationship between lead generation, customer acquisition and retention activities to provide a unified view of the online customer.

Coremetrics provides lifetime analysis of the success of marketing campaigns. This means that, for example, a website comparing two different marketing campaigns could determine ROI for the "lifetime" of the customers, rather than simply for the first burst of usage after each campaign. If one campaign brings more buyers in the short run but the ones brought by another campaign tend to be much more loyal and to come back continually, eLuminate will sort that out.

Coremetrics collects data through a small JavaScript fragment added to each page of a customer's site. This code sends information back to Coremetrics' server farm as a page is loaded. Unlike approaches that rely on web logs, Coremetrics captures data in real time and can capture views of pages that a user returns to with the browser's Back button.

Collected data are placed in a relational database and can be viewed by the customer in a variety of forms that have been developed through best practice analysis of Coremetrics' initial customers. Coremetrics believes that this ensures that new customers will be able to use the information that is collected almost immediately, without any need for development activities of their own.

Market Impact

eLuminate is another of the many slightly unique entrants into the area of market intelligence. Like others it has an interesting technological spin, which the interested target customer will be unable to evaluate. Its focus on best practices reporting will be attractive, although competitors can easily adopt it. It is hard to imagine that its data analyses will not prove useful to customers; there is so much information hidden in the data collected by a website that any vendor would have to be fairly incompetent not to be able to provide useful results.

Where eLuminate may have an extra advantage, beyond feature-by-feature comparisons, is that it is a purely hosted service. While the work of embedding their JavaScript data tags on all of a site's pages or page templates is not trivial, it will be easier for many sites than buying a new server and software license to dedicate to visitor analysis. We assume that Coremetrics will make it very easy, both through technical assistance and initial pricing, for customers to give them a try.

The products major marketing weakness will be that it does not have much native provision for integrating customer data from traditional retail or direct marketing operations. It will therefore be most appealing to pure dot-com merchants - but there are certainly enough of those going around.

User Recommendations

If your site is supposed to grow its merchandising volume (or its page impressions, in the case of content sites that are supported by advertising) quickly, it needs to understand what campaigns attract users and what keeps those users coming back. You have to invest in analysis tools. Coremetrics' eLuminate might well be a good investment, but choosing the tool is not the first step.

To begin with, see how much data you can get out of your web logs, using fairly inexpensive software. It will be obvious within days or at most weeks what you can learn from those reports. (Established web sites will have done this already.)

The next step is to establish a picture of the kind of information you want to have. We believe that this step should involve marketing, technologists, content providers, and product line managers. Draw the graphs you want to see from your software, describe the scenarios in which you think analysis will be most useful, and write hypothetical reports giving the conclusions that you'd like to get from your visitor analyses.

Take these to the vendors and invite them to demonstrate how their products will meet these essential requirements. If Coremetrics, or another ASP vendor, ends up on your short list then you may well want to give them a try first. If the cost of embedding the data tags on your pages is low, then this will be an easy way to see over a period of months whether you've asked the right questions and whether this vendor does help increase campaign effectiveness and overall revenues.

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