Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WebTrekk Q3 – Web Analytics made in Germany

Beginning of this year, I decided to change job and to take on new challenges, switching from automotive industry to banking industry, quite a radical change if you asked me. For years, I have been working with WebTrends Analytics. If you have been a regular reader, you know that I was globally quite enthusiastic about that tool – especially since the launch of Web Analytics 9.

But the new job meant for me discovering and learning to use a new Web analytics tools, a German one that I hardly heard about before, called WebTrekk Q3.

After few weeks working with the tool and after attending a dedicated training at WebTrekk offices in Berlin (hosted by very nice people), I would like to take the opportunity to share with you my quick "review" about a tool that certainly deserves to be known.

A Web Analytics tool like all the others?
At first sight, WebTrekk Q3 looks like most other Web analytics tools that are available on the market.

Data collection is based on a Javascript-based tag that is very similar to most common solutions. The tag can be customized based on your needs and it is possible to create your own custom parameters – nothing new there.

On the reporting side, WebTrekk Q3 provides most usual features that any Web analyst expects to find nowadays in a Web analytics tools. These including the usual reports (visitors, visits, pages, sources....), content groups, campaigns, path analysis, workflows, e-commerce, browsers & mobile devices, scorecards & KPI’s, overlays and many others. And because we all have our own specific needs, it is possible to create your own custom metrics, reports and dashboards.

WebTrekk customer base is mostly composed of German companies in different industries, such as e-commerce (Esprit, Hugo Boss), finance, media and others (GroheBundesliga...).

WebTrekk offers the possibility between SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) or in-house solutions and it exists in two versions (light and full) – the light one already offering the most important features.

So what does differentiate WebTrekk from the other players on the market?

Unleashing the power of segmentation!
The main differentiator is that WebTrekk Q3 works with “raw” data that is neither sampled, aggregated nor pre-processed. Whenever you access what is called an “analysis” (usually called a report in other tools), the corresponding query is run against the raw data and the corresponding results are calculated on the fly.

But what makes WebTrekk Q3 really powerful and flexible is its “filter engine” - probably the most important feature of the tool. The filter engine is basically a real-time segmentation engine. It allows you to filter (i.e. segment) any analysis on almost any criteria available in the tool – be it a dimension (e.g. all visits coming from search engines) or a metric value (e.g. all visits with more than 10 page views). The filter is directly applied on all your data set. Data segmentation is retroactive so there is no need of reprocessing your data.

You can combine multiple criteria in order to build advanced and complex queries. And depending on the objects used in the filter, you can choose different scope (called “context"). For example, if you use a filter on page name, you can filter at page level (e.g. retrieve all pages with name that contains “product”), at visit level (retrieve all pages viewed during visits where product pages were viewed) or visitor levels (all pages viewed by visitors that viewed at least once a product page during any of their visits).

The filtering engine is not only used for segmenting analysis but also for creating custom metrics and formulas – providing a lot of freedom to create your own advanced metrics. Custom metrics and formulas can be added to any report at any time – here again, no need of reprocessing.

As said, I have loved working with WebTrends Analytics product but on-the-fly segmentation was the feature I lacked the most in that tool. It is very difficult to do effective segmentation when you have to define in advance the appropriate custom metrics/reports/filter and to reprocess past data to have your segment applied to your historical data. Segmentation is a "dynamic" process and it requires flexibility.

Now I feel very different and being able to segment in whatever way I want, is really great! Not just for the sake of doing segmentation but for the insights you can get out of it. Yes, the true power of segmentation, finally! :-)

What else, Georges?
While it is not possible (yet) to query directly the WebTrekk Q3 datawarehouse using external query client, it is possible to export raw data tables of your choice so you can possibly import these in your own database or system (BI integration anyone?).

Aside that, there were a few other features that got my attention and that I think worth to be mentioned:
  • Advanced campaign configuration with the ability to configure the attribution model (first, last, both, weighted...) and the possibility to see what are the preceding / following campaigns (for a specific campaign). It is possible to manage look up files or rules so you can “translate” not-so-friendly campaign ID’s into a meaningful hierarchy. And you have all freedom to create all the campaign attributes you need, the way you want.

  • Depth of engagement report is a kind of high-level funnel report where you can define different levels of engagement and see how your site is driving visitors across the different groups. For example, from Homepage to Product View to Add to Cart to Purchase complete. And best is that you can segment such report the way you want to see how different segments performs.
  • Others interesting features include cross tables (allows the combination of two dimensions into a single data table - displayed in a visual way), built in heatmap report (similar as the overlay report but shows click density on top of the webpage), SEA and SEO data integration (Google Adwords API to integrate data from your Adwords account (at additional costs), reports with SEO data such as page rank, search volumes, backlinks for a defined set of pages).
 For a more comprehensive list of WebTrekk Q3 product features, please have a look at their official website.

On the "down" side...
All tools on the market have weaknesses, WebTrekk Q3 is not an exception. On the negative side, let’s mention:
  • The user interface: It is not very “sexy” to say the less – especially when you see what competitors are doing. It looks a bit oldish in my opinion. It is not the most user-friendly interface nor always that intuitive. Some basic functions are not always that straightforward or require more clicks than necessary. But it does what it needs to do.

  • The learning curve: WebTrekk Q3 is certainly not “easy” to use for non-expert users. It requires some practices and training to use correctly and to know how to leverage its “power”. This is partly due to the interface but also because it is more complex to "configure" an analysis. But once you get it, it proves to be very powerful and flexibe.

  • Performances: Because it works on raw data and calculates results on the fly, it is slower than what I used to see (in WebTrends or Google Analytics for example) and for complex queries, you will have to wait. This can become tedious when you are creating and testing reports but, it is the price to pay I guess.

  • Mobile apps tracking: It is possible to track mobile websites but when it comes to mobile apps, it is a bit limited at the moment. A SDK is available for iPhone only but WebTrekk is working on SDK’s for other platforms such as Android.

A tool is just... a tool
To be honest, I was not so impressed after my “first encounter” with WebTrekk Q3 – especially from a visual point of view. But as I started discovering the tool, I got quite pleased with the possibilities it offers and its flexibility. Considering that WebTrekk is a rather small company compared to the big ones such as Adobe, WebTrends or Google Analytics, they have done more than a pretty decent job there!

But let’s not forget that a tool is just...a tool. What is important is not the number of features and gadgets that it offers, it is what you are able to do according to your own needs i.e. can it help you answer questions and solve business problems you have? In my case, WebTrekk Q3 seems to be more than enough so far and it complies with some important company requisites that others such as Google Analytics or WebTrends don’t.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that WebTrekk is the super wunderbar Web analytics tool. My point here is to present an interesting tool that I am pleased to work with. It is always good to know what exists on the market. So if you are an European company and if you are looking for a Web analytics tool, have a look at WebTrekk Q3. It may be an interesting alternatives to the traditional players and may fit your needs.

I hope you found this post interesting. If any of you has some good or bad experience with WebTrekk, I'd like to hear your thoughts and impressions. Or if you have experience with other “less famous” Web analytics tools that deserve to be known, do not hesitate to share your review.

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