Following the success of their Analyzer and Pro versions of their popular Web Analysis software, the folks at ClickTracks released a new mid-range product known as Optimizer earlier this year. (You can read the news story on the Optimizer release here on Search Engine Guide.) I've finally had a chance to play around with the software, and as usual, ClickTracks delivers the goods.

Well known in the industry for it's easy to use interface and powerful report generating features, ClickTracks previously offered only an entry level and a professional level product to the market. Small businesses that used the Analyzer version of ClickTracks often found themselves longing for some more powerful features, but unable to pay the hefty $3000 price tag for the professional edition of the software. Optimizer's $1200 cost is still well above the base level of Analyzer (priced at just under $500) but is still less than half the cost of the Professional version of the software. For that mid-range price, Optimizer packs a nice set of features.

I've always loved ClickTracks for its easy to use interface and that feature is still as important as ever. ClickTracks launches with a straightforward menu page that allows users to decide what type of report they wish to run along with the date range they wish to analyze. ClickTracks also allows users to either import log files from a remote server by using ClickTracks' own FTP program, or import them from a file on their local drive.

ClickTracks Optimizer offers a variety of reports and tools that were present in past releases as well as introducing a few new options to the mix as well. Here's a quick overview of what the software allows a user to do.

Compare Visitor Behavior - Users can divide users into groups (search traffic verses direct URL traffic, traffic from a specific referral source, traffic that makes a purchase, etc...) and then view each of the individual reports accordingly. It's a wonderful way to track specific user groups and users will find it easy to customize their own groups.

Search Report - Designed to display specific information about traffic from search engines, this feature has some great options. Users can not only find out the number of visitors from a particular engine or phrase, but can also find out how long they stayed, how much each visitor cost and a variety of other bits of information.

Navigation Report - The feature that made ClickTracks so popular is still here and as good as ever. ClickTracks superimposes data on top of the actual Web site being analyzed to help users learn what paths users are taking through the site. With a single glance, you can tell how many users exit from your front page, which links attract the most attention, and how long users spend on that page.

Site Overview - A traditional report similar to that found on most analytics tools, the site overview provides data about the number of visitors, average page views and the most popular keywords and pages for the site.

Ad Campaign Report - Introduced a few versions ago, this campaign analysis tool works with popular PPC programs Google AdSense and Yahoo!'s Overture to help you analyze the performance of your campaigns. Find out how much you pay per conversion, which campaigns are under performing, and more. Optimizer updates this feature by adding a new integrated e-mail tracking option that lets users of SubscriberMail, IntelliContact and other ESPs track e-mail campaigns from the moment a user first visits the site, clear through to purchase, inquiry, or any other action. The new email tracking also allows users to generate new mailing lists based on label criteria, making the tool even more powerful.

What's Changed Report - One of my personal favorites, this tool lets users take a quick glance at any major changes in their stats over any time period. Users simply select two date ranges to compare and then ClickTracks generates a nifty little report that tracks the fastest rising (and falling) keywords, referrers, campaigns, entry pages and visited pages. The report is great for spotting keywords that may need additional optimization, or which new links are providing traffic boosts. It's also an invaluable way of immediately judging the success of a new online campaign.

Robot Report - Perhaps the handiest new feature in Optimizer, when it comes to search marketing, is the robot report. I've yet to see any other analysis software produce a report this easy to read and this useful when it comes to tracking the progress of a Web site being spidered. The report tracks the activity of the Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask, Looksmart and AltaVista spiders and can be used to determine the date of a spiders last visit, the number of visits, and the frequency of visits. The data is broken down by URL, so it creates a fast and easy way to find out if a particular page of your site has been indexed.

Extra User Licenses - One of the simplest, but best new features of Optimizer is the fact that the price includes three client licenses. That means that small businesses and small consulting firms no longer have to worry about sharing one edition of the software, or shelling out the bucks so that everyone can have access.

Hosted Version - ClickTracks Optimizer is also available as a hosted service for users that do not wish to purchase their own copy of the software. Prices start at around $100 a month for sites that receive less than 50,000 page views per month. Prices go up accordingly as traffic increases.

Overall, the latest version of ClickTracks is a winner. I've been playing with Optimizer for about a month now and as always, I'm impressed by the new features and still amazed by the ones that should be old news. It's a kick being able to go in and track the exact conversion rates for visitors by referral site, or by keyword phrase and it never gets old seeing ClickTracks data being superimposed over one of my URLs.

Add that to the absolutely outstanding customer support offered via email, phone and AOLIM and you've got a winning combination. ClickTracks is truly one of the most responsive companies I've ever dealt with and their continued upgrades to their product make it clear that they've listened closely to what their user base is looking for and continually strive to provide it.

Small business often can't afford the price tag that comes with good usability analysis, ROI analysis and online marketing consultants. While Optimzer can't replace those services, it can go a long way toward providing good information at a fraction of the cost. Taking the time to learn how to properly use ClickTracks can provide a small business owner with insight into their online marketing that might otherwise have cost them tens of thousands of dollars from a professional consultant. This is one piece of software that I wouldn't want to do business without.
March 14, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > ClickTracks Optimizer Offers Must Have Reporting for Small Businesses