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What's New in Technology for May 2007

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Technology: Measuring your Website’s Success

We’ve come a long way since the days when tallying “hits” was the way to determine how well a website was performing. Today more than 70 companies offer analytical tools that assess customer data generated by a website. Their analytics software can provide business owners with information based on various performance criteria – information on how your site ranks among leading search engines; what visitors do once they reach your site or how many “clicks” represent real visitors and how many are bogus data used to bolster search engine statistics. There is no shortage of analytical tools out there. The challenge is figuring out which are useful and might be worth their monthly fees.

Before you start investing in a program, take a look at Google’s free analytics. Google’s free service is able to provide data sorted in 18 different ways to let you get to know more about your site’s visitors. Options are fairly basic and include sorting “hits” by keywords and by geographical location. The program can generate a variety of reports in some 17 languages. If you haven’t explored it, try it first to get an idea of how analytics work. It may provide enough data to help you refine your web marketing efforts. But, if you want more detailed, specific information there are plenty of subscription services out there. Here are just a few that offer some cost-effective help to fine-tune your web marketing efforts:

Click Forensics --Identifying “Click Fraud”
Click Forensics (http://www.clickforensics.com) has web-based tools that determine which “clicks” represent bone fide visitors and which are most likely bogus. It works on the premise that “hits” that last only a second or two most likely are probably fraudulent, The service helps you understand how click fraud can undermine your marketing efforts, and allows its clients to better evaluate search engine companies’ claims.

AdTest from Better PPC—Test Marketing your Web Campaigns
If you want to know which campaign approach might work best, AdTest from BetterPPC (http://www.betterppc.com) may help. BetterPPC.com is a testing and optimization service designed for Google AdWords customers. This software will tell you whether free shipping, discount offers or other incentives generate more sales. You provide three headlines, three opening lines of copy, and three follow-up pieces of copy, and the software does the rest – automatically test-marketing the various options to evaluate which combination works best. It is not geared to test banner ads, or email campaigns, and currently runs only with Google Adwords (plans to integrate it with Yahoo and MSN are in the works). One test will cost you $30, but most likely you’ll want to test your efforts over time, which will cost about $300 per month for up to $30,000 of ad spending.

WebPosition4 from WebTrends –Boosting Your Placement in Search Engine Listings
The best website in the world won’t do your company much good if potential customers don’t find it easily. WebPosition (http://www.forestsoftware.co.uk)
helps you improve the odds by providing data on which keywords generate the best placement in search engine listings. It not only shows how your site ranks in listings from more than 200 search engines, but it also provides suggestions on how to make changes to improve your ranking. It’s a valuable service, but does tie you down to using only WebTrends software-- it cannot be used in concert with other companies’ analytical software. Its basic version will cost you $149 and its more elaborate professional version costs $389.

Whatever your marketing analysis needs, there’s software out there to help you. Before signing on the dotted line, be sure to determine that compatibility with your other web-service providers is not an issue, and that your choice is user-friendly and not too complex for your business needs.

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