Real-time web analytics reporting is more critical than ever for many organizations. It’s not realistic to wait 4 hours, or even 1 hour, to see how visitors are consuming fresh content, navigating new product sections, or generally browsing, on many sites. With the recent changes to Google’s search results, integrating real-time social media content, the transition from launch (or post, or release, or whatever) to tracking and refining, has been shortened even more. But even before the social media revolution, marketers have wanted to get real-time data when an email campaign is sent, a microsite is launched, their product is featured on Oprah, etc.
So how do you monitor your website in real-time? Omniture will provide you with some real-time data, likewise with WebTrends, but it isn’t complete. Google Analytics provides you with none (though I see this changing in 2010). So you need to employ a different analytics solution for this need. For enterprises, this might not be for your entire corporate site but maybe just your blogs. For smaller organizations, this may be something you want on your whole site. Regardless, here is a quick breakdown of three popular real-time web analytics offerings, and what I like about each of them.
I’ve written about Clicky before as a low-cost analytics solution, and it is pretty cheap. You can get a base level package for just $9.99. We use Clicky on this site and we love it for its ability to breakdown the pathing that specific visitors took through our site. This can be done in real-time or historically. I literally can look at the Visitor report, see what organizations are on my site, and then see what paths they’ve taken, and what source brought them to the site. So, if your reading this shortly after I’ve posted it, I’m probably looking at your network (your ISP or organization name) of the corner of my eye on my extra monitor. If your with a Fortune 500 company, chances are I’m watching the path your taking through my site. Can you see the sales benefits we get from Clicky now? Deployment of Clicky is straightforward and it has some cool “event tracking” type capabilities that can be leveraged.
Admittedly, I’ve only been using chartbeat for about a week, but I really like it. The interface is a simple yet effective dashboard. Instead of looking at standard analytics metrics and reporting in real-time; it defines its own reports and metrics, ones that are more relevant to real-time needs. For example, page density and whether visitors are idle, reading, or writing (dependent on your CMS). It also integrates Twitter conversations and incoming links into the dashboard. Chartbeat also runs about $10 a month (for up to 5 sites) and has a 30 day trial for you to check the product out.
I was a big fan of Woopra at first, but I don’t really use it as much as I used to. My biggest problem with the product was that it isn’t web-based, but required an installed application. That aside, it also has a great dashboard, and more comprehensive reporting. It also features the ability to chat with any visitor currently on your site. I haven’t employed that in a real business situation yet, but I have played around with it a bit. Most folks tend to think that Woopra is great for monitoring, and covers the same bases that chartbeat does, so if you’re looking for that type of solution it is worth checking out. Woopra has pricing plans from $5 a month up to $180, based on number of pageviews, so it seems more focused on pursuing larger customers. So if you’re enterprise level, it definitely is worth checking out.