Tracking Online Activity Yields New Insights

This holiday season is shaping up to be a strong one for online sales.
This holiday season is shaping up to be a strong one for online sales. Fourth-quarter Web purchases are expected to reach $16.8 billion, an increase of 35% over the same period last year, E-commerce research company says. Yet this buying surge can't be wholly attributed to holiday shoppers.

Online sales rose 37% year over year in the third quarter of 2002 to $10 billion, according to BizRate. While this spells good news for businesses looking to augment traditional revenue streams depressed by the sluggish economy, the increase in E-business sales should also benefit companies looking to better serve and profit from customers.

Business Web sites, whether or not they're E-commerce enabled, aren't just conduits of marketing messages or order fulfillment. Monitoring technology that tracks the activity of site surfers has transformed company Web sites into customer-knowledge tools. And companies are taking advantage of this capability to better understand customers as well as the preferences of site surfers.

Take, for instance, the 600 companies in the Yankee Group's fourth annual study, Doing Business On The Internet. Three in four sites studied track online customer activity. Nearly half use log files to achieve this measure, while almost one-third have developed custom tracking applications that capture site activity. For businesses lacking the resources to conduct in-house site monitoring, service vendors are stepping in to measure page hits or to host the tools needed to properly analyze online traffic.

Although few executives argue against the value of site-gathered information, most don't consider such results when evaluating their site's overall performance. The number of online visitors and new customers are the most common indicators that a site is operating successfully, according to the study.

Has your Web site exceeded expectations in 2002? Share your success stories with us.

Roma Nowak
Managing Editor, Online
[email protected]

Tracking MethodsSuccess Barometers
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Web sites can turn visitors into self-reliant customers who retrieve information or secure services with just a couple of mouse clicks. Almost 30% of the 600 companies surveyed by the Yankee Group use a decrease in the number of customer-service calls as a measure of Web-site success.

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