CATEGORY: Web Analytics & Web Services

REVIEWER: Matt Welsh, producer of The Discovery Channel.

BACKGROUND: The Discovery Channel is best known as a cable television company. Our properties range from The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel (TLC), Animal Planet, The Travel Channel, Discovery Health and Discovery Kids, among many others. The common thread through all of these properties is the company's focus on real-world entertainment. Looking to extend our brand beyond television, The Discovery Channel purchased a chain of retail stores from The Nature Company in 1996. In cooperation with this purchase, we also launched an e-commerce site. Currently, we have more than 160 physical retail stores, The Discovery Catalog and our e-commerce site, Discovery Store.


PROBLEM SOLVED: No transactions could be taken on our e-commerce site until 1999 when we added this capability and began to grow our online store as a distinctive sales channel. By 2002, we were ready to take our e-commerce efforts even further and put together a plan and strategy to accomplish our e-commerce goals and objectives. One of our first challenges was to purchase a Web analytics solution to obtain a better understanding of our online customers' behavior and shopping patterns. We had not previously utilized an analytics solution for our e-commerce efforts and were, therefore, unable to measure or track the success of our business objectives or identify areas that needed to be addressed to grow our online revenue and increase our overall conversions.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With Omniture's SiteCatalyst, we have discovered that a better understanding of customer needs and behavior leads to significant increases in merchandising and sales. From clickthrough performance to marketing campaign evaluation, we're getting an informative picture of how our customers find us, browse our site and check out. We've been able to increase our traffic from one search engine by 300 percent, have improved home page conversion and increased sales on one of our top product lines by 10 percent. Only by observing actual behavior have we been able to maximize our investments in IT, design and development to realize the greatest impact on our business metrics. We are thrilled with the results we have seen thus far. We are exploring opportunities for increased conversion and sales through our user interface, site performance and marketing efforts. One of our goals is to encourage repeat buyers, and we will use the information from SiteCatalyst to explore different e-mail and marketing promotions.

STRENGTHS: The product allows us to dissect user behavior from many different angles and presents a seemingly endless amount of data. Much of this data is directly tied to metrics; therefore, it's easy to see the effects of our efforts on a single report screen. Because the amount of data can be overwhelming, Omniture also succeeds in presenting the information in an easily accessible format. Visual displays, graphics and charts help communicate what's going on beyond the numbers. The product also has an impressive development schedule that is constantly adding new functionality that further strengthens its solid foundation. ClickMap features and alerts are already on our agenda to utilize as we push forward on our objectives.

WEAKNESSES: The product still does require some outside calculation that I'd like to have built into the interface. I often want to calculate conversion rates or revenue-per-click and need to download the data to a spreadsheet to obtain comparative figures.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated a variety of vendors, and our decision basically came down to the fact that SiteCatalyst best met all of our criteria. We wanted something that was user friendly and provided information in real time. We also needed the product to be affordable and easy to implement.

DELIVERABLES: First and foremost, the product provides us with data that we can synthesize into our own reports. Beyond that, we can set reports to generate daily, share them with others or have them alert us of notable changes to data benchmarks.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Pre-implementation, the support we received was quite helpful. Post-implementation, we've seen a bit of lag on some questions and issues; but they do get in touch with us eventually. I know they are working on building their client services department to hopefully improve response times to customer questions. The best part of working with the vendor has been their overall excitement about analytics. I truly feel that they want to do whatever they can to help every client succeed, and they see so much opportunity for every site using analytics to better their business.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was clear and easy to understand. The usability of their interface is found in the instructions, and I believe we could run the product if we had to rely only on the documentation.

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