Omniture, a website analytics tool, has legions of fans who use it to understand user behavior metrics and site stats. But its cost and complexity also have a lot of companies evaluating free alternatives.
Can't Live With It: Eric Fulwiler, partner, ZAC Digital Agency, a digital marketing and strategy firm in New York City
Eric Fulwiler is busy with all things online--from advertising and e-mail marketing to social networking and digital PR. But he deems Omniture too powerful to be useful for a busy web professional.
"It's a great service if you need it and you know how to use it, but most people don't need 90 percent of the power that it offers--and you can't even handle it sometimes," he says. "You can get lost in Omniture just looking for a simple data point and spend two hours trying to find it."
ZAC depends on analytics to determine how well its small-business hospitality industry clients are managing their digital presence. Fulwiler prefers simpler tools that won't hit his bottom line.
"All the campaigns we run and all the different services we offer all come back to analytics," Fulwiler says. "Some might be more interested in just getting people to their website, whereas some might be more interested in getting mentioned on big media sites."
Fulwiler says Google Analytics gives him the data he needs without his being "drowned" by a torrent of data.
"Omniture gave me the data I needed eventually--it was just a question of how much time it took me to use it. And, of course, it costs money, whereas Google Analytics doesn't," he says. "I need a much lighter, more easy-to-use tool."
Can't Live Without It: Randy Paynter, CEO, Care2, an online cause marketing firm in Redwood City, Calif.
Care2's mission is to connect people with online communities that promote nonprofit-backed causes such as green living, women's rights, animal welfare and more. The firm depends on its web properties to inform people about their hot-button issues and relies on online analytics to track their progress.
"We need to be a data-driven company," says founder and CEO Randy Paynter. "We need to be able to understand and learn from our traffic."
Paynter, a longtime Omniture user, says he checks his dashboard at least five times a day to monitor hourly traffic peaks and valleys. Those metrics help him decide how and where to make changes to Care2's site and how to adjust strategies in communicating with consumers and advertisers.
Omniture's flexibility and level of customization are big attractions for him.
"We like the ability to get really granular, the ability to look at different elements on the site and to tag different actions we want to understand," Paynter says.
He likes it so much that he has assigned one of his 50 employees to Omniture. "We have somebody whose responsibility is to manage the system and to work with our engineering team to add tags and pull reports from it," he says. "I'm a big enough believer that I think it is important to have that person dedicated to the system."