[Guest Post by Semphonic VP Matthias Bettag - Head of our Berlin Office]
There are so many analytics tools available that it's hard for anyone to stay current and informed. Web analytics, Surveys, User Feedback, Social Media, Testing…so many different requirements served by so many different tools each with its own complexities and functionality. There are free tools, open source tools, licensed tools for small sites and companies, and, of course, high-end enterprise-level software.
There are two great resources in Europe which tackle this universe of different tools by comparing them to each other and ranking them according the functionalities and abilities. They are www.AboutAnalytics.com from the Netherlands (English speaking), and www.IdealObserver.com from Germany (German speaking). Btw, if you know another similar website, please let me know.
When using these sites I always wondered why someone would put such an enormous amount of time and workload into such a rapidly changing and emerging market? How to handle this massive workload in any reasonable time? How to keep up with all changes, mergers and new functionalities?
Of course, I appreciate the site’s services, as many of us do – at whatever level of interest and for whichever purpose: they can help explain how one tool’s functionalities differs from another (e.g. to explain why a very basic solution is not a perfect fit for a multinational ecommerce enterprise…), they are a great resource when preparing a technology short-list or Request for Proposal (RFP) process, and absolutely invaluable when you want to see how a particular tool the sales guy was just talking about on the phone is classified by a third party.
I decided to reach out to the site owners of AboutAnalytics and IdealObserver and ask them about their sites. I couldn't resist asking mean questions like “Why do you love excessive work with high risk of immediate obsolescence?” and “What’s your motivation to provoke every vendor to complain on your site (except the one on top of your ranking)?”
It turns out the two sites work in rather a different way and follow a different approach. I think the interview below (with Mieszko Czyzyk, co-founder of AboutAnalytics.com, based in Enschede, Netherlands, and Marcus Nowak-Trytko, based in Düsseldorf, Germany, who runs IdealOberserver.com - formerly web-analytics-tools.com) explains it very well.
Here we go!
Question: What makes your site unique? What does it serve for, and who is/are your target audience/s?
AboutAnalytics: AboutAnalytics is world’s most comprehensive overview of analytics tools. We compare and review analytics software. Our AA Rating™ takes many factors and distills them into one quality score. We focus our advice on analytics end-users: Medium size businesses that don’t have the resources to perform elaborate comparisons. Using our rating end-users can quickly make a short-list of the best analytics software. In doing so they can make better and quicker investment decisions!
IdealObserver: The IdealObserver.com is a site for people who want to know more about a unique Web analytics tool. There are more than 430 criteria and over six categories with screenshots of each tool. The criteria are controlled by me. We have the origins of some of the web analytics companies’ customers. So I have a real user view.
The IdealObserver.com is a neutral platform for companies looking for a web analytics tool. They are looking for information they can trust and not for marketing information.
AboutAnalytics: Foremost it is to provide more market transparency in the analytics market.
Second, we are in the process of involving more analytics vendors in the comparison process. End-users can directly requests quotes for analytics tools. Vendors pay for quote requests and market data.
IdealObserver: First of all, it is a platform for neutral information about Web analytics tools. The knowledge of different tools helps us to support our customers. We optimize websites with a method called “user orientated quality management”. We are working for customers who are using different kinds of Web analytic tools.
Q: How long did it take to set this up, and how much time do you have to invest to keep it up-to-date? How do you get notice of new tools and how long does it take to have it analyzed (sic!) for your website?
AboutAnalytics: We build the site in about 6 months, with a part-time team of developers.
Keeping up to date is pretty time intensive. We have 3 part-time content editors. Together they work almost a full-time job to keep content up to date.
IdealObserver: The website was founded by Frank Reese, a web analytics specialist and book author. In 2009 he committed the website “web-analytics-tools.com” to me. At that time Web analytics tools were researched by around 260 criteria. Now by the end of 2011 I analyzed 430 criteria.
Of course it is a lot of work. I need 3 months just for the yearly update, many days for collecting and selecting information from web analytics companies and their tools and talks with companies using web analytic tools for their websites. I can see into different live web analytics accounts from major companies who are active in Germany and around the world.
Q: How are you comparing functionalities and features across the different tools to fit into your rating system? E.g. how do you define "segmentation" or "campaigns" so that it can be comparable across the different tools?
AboutAnalytics: We don't. The rating algorithm has different factors within each analytics category. This is not a real problem: it does not make much sense to compare different categories with each other. They only problem is in tools that perform multiple types of analysis (belong in multiple categories). We are working on representing these tools in multiple categories in a better way.
IdealObserver: Segmentation and campaigns are generic terms for a range of single functions. This means that the tools are analyzed under many different aspects. The usability of the functions is also a major factor for their evaluation. These are the main issues for the user’s evaluation of a web analysis tool. The user is not given a score for only one feature. The whole process and the single evaluations are transparent.
Q: Do vendors address their selves to you in order to make suggestions and provide news and updates?
AboutAnalytics: We have good relationships with quite a few smaller to medium size vendors. It is a problem however to get in touch with the biggest guys like Google and Adobe (Omniture).
IdealObserver: We do not publish PR reports, but relevant information that has been written up by journalists, working for my company www.echopress.de and then published. We receive this information directly from the vendors. To most of them we have good connections, to get information from is very hard.
Q: Do you receive regular feedback from people who use your site for a vendor pitch or evaluating a new WA tool?
AboutAnalytics: Yes, our content editors regularly talk to both users and vendors. However, we still need to get more reach with analytics end-users. It still is a young, emerging market. Many end-users choose for Google Analytics by default. Which is a shame, because there are many good quality tools out there.
IdealObserver: Yes, I talk to everybody who is registered on the website or email me questions. Customers use the data to compare analytic Tools. Or they use the data to filter information from Web analytics marketing and sales staff. We offer basic support to our customers and have the role of a neutral observer. Therefore we know their needs and can discuss how to choose the right Web analytics tool. Here we get the input for our next survey. So the features we develop correspond to our customers’ needs.
Q: Do you plan any enhancements for the future?
AboutAnalytics: For now we need to focus on the quality of our content and comparisons. From this more traffic follows, and this in turn makes AboutAnalytics more interesting for analytics vendors and consultants. In the next 2 weeks we will be improving our review system and increasing the visibility of companies that have subscribed.
IdealObserver: We plan to implement an English version of our study. It has been translated and the programming will start in the 2nd quarter of this year. There is enough content to write a “buyers guide” and we have more experience in so many different web analytic tools than any other company. This work will be our goal for this year.
Thank you both very much for your time!