Many organizations struggle to capture, organize, and effectively act on behavioral Web data to drive marketing programs.

What follows is a five-step path to help marketers progressively develop their capabilities and expand the use of Web analytics from aggregate-level reporting to deriving and using behavioral insights that fuel interactive marketing.

Stage 1: Site Analysis (Reporting)

At most organizations, Web analytics begins as a site-analysis solution, intended to monitor site health, report on site activity, and prove return on investment for the online channel. At this stage, Web analytics answers basic questions such as these:

  • How many visitors are coming to my site?
  • How are visitors using my site?
  • How are visitors finding my site?

Stage 2: Site and Advertising Optimization

To begin generating substantial business value, Web analytics must evolve to reach Stage 2. In this stage, Web analysts seek to identify bottlenecks (e.g., Web pages that aren't performing well). Marketers run experiments to identify and assess opportunities for overcoming those bottlenecks, and thereby increasing returns. At this stage marketers ask these questions:

  • How can I improve our site's structure and content to increase conversion rates?
  • How can I reallocate online ad spend to attract more profitable customers?

Stage 3: Segment Targeting

In Stage 3, marketers realize that there is no such thing as an "optimized page." That's because different groups of visitors come to the same page with different goals in mind. Therefore, in this stage, marketers use behavioral analysis to define their most valuable customer segments and identify the dynamic content that's most effective with each segment.

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Akin Arikan is director of product strategy and Web analytics evangelist at Unica. He is the author of Multichannel Marketing: Metrics and Methods for On and Offline Success.