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Webtrends Analytics: "Webtrends Review from long experience"
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Chris Grant profile photo
Updated April 08, 2015

Webtrends Analytics: "Webtrends Review from long experience"

Score 7 out of 101
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version
9 and 10

Overall Satisfaction with Webtrends Analytics

Our use case is as an interactive agency. Some of our clients come to us as Webtrends customers, and we provide implementation and/or support as part of our overall web site development and maintenance practice. The Webtrends consumers at our clients' organizations tend to be in the marketing area, as the tool is used for one or more of the following: 1) assess the performance/value of the web site itself, 2) assess the performance of the marketing that brings people to the web site, or 3) for diagnostics, i.e. what parts of the content, navigation, etc seem to be causing site visitor successes or problems. The audience for the first is execs, for the second is marketers, and for the third is site managers and strategists.
  • More than some of its competitors, most Webtrends' configurations (reports, dimensions, filters, content groups, measures) can be done in the admin UI, rather than in the tagging and site code. The tag itself is smart - it can sense offsite links, clicks on pdf downloads, form button clicks, and so on, which eliminates a lot of extra coding or tag modification that has to be done with other products.
  • There are so many levers and buttons in the configuration that nearly anything can be turned into a report, or a report dimension, filter, or measure.
  • It allows re-analysis of past data as far back as 90 days. Usually, you do this if you have created new custom reports, content groups, change the filters, and so on.
  • There is a software version, called On Premises. (The SaaS version is called On Demand.)
  • It has real path analysis ... it does not daisy-chain individual steps as others do. The paths it displays are what happens in actual visits, up to 20 steps long. It has forward and backward paths (one visit can appear several times depending on how many times the node was hit), paths-from-entry (one visit, one path), content group paths as well as page paths. Its one lack (that I care about) is SiteCatalyst's Pathfinder report which allows you to identify wildcard pages in a 3-step hypothetical path.
  • This isn't going to ring a bell for a lot of people, but it handles list variables much better than its competitors (basically, parameters that hold multiple values such as "choose as many as apply" kinds of variables.
  • It handles the tabulations of parameters really well. It deals with three kinds of parameters: those in the pages' URL, those placed in the WT.meta's (I don't think any competitors use this approach and it is fantastic for easily keeping URLs clean for SEO purposes), and those collected automatically by the standard tag. When tabulating parameters, its competitors require more up-front work, lots more configuration time, or severe limits on the quantity.
  • Having recently tried out Google Analytics' new Content Groups feature, I was reminded of how powerful it is in Webtrends. There's really no comparison. Furthermore, the content groups can be configured p in the UI as well as hard-coded into the page. Content Group paths can be up to 20 steps long, and are not daisy-chained.
  • The big downside, the elephant in the room, is that it does not (as of right now) have on-demand segmenting, drilldowns, etc. You have to think of what you want in advance and create those reports then analyze some data. This is huge. You can, of course, re-analyze old data after creating new reports but you still have to wait. (This deficiency may become obsolete with the release of Webtrends Explore later this month (May 2014).)
  • It has fewer mature integrations with other products and databases than competitors do, although I'm told it works with SharePoint better than anything else does.
  • Its attribution modeling capability is behind Google Analytics'. In my humble opinion, this could be changed quickly if Webtrends would make some tweaks to its standard visitor history files (i.e. preserve the order in which past visits were sourced beyond the single most recent one, rather than storing all those past sources as a randomized list).
  • It doesn't incorporate statistical tests, confidence intervals, or statistical associations. However, this same criticism can be applied to its competitors (other than A/B Testing products). It's a tabulation program, as they all are. In this respect, web analytics tools as a group are relatively primitive. Sorry to bring this up as a criticism of Webtrends but it's my pet peeve about the whole industry and I just have to say it. (p.s. take advantage of the heavy-duty Webtrends Scheduled Export functionality to get really granular data that you can feed to a stats program to get significances.)
  • Although the documentation, help screens, phone support and the knowledge base have improved tremendously in recent years, there is still a pretty steep learning curve because it is different from the tools that entry-level users may have already been exposed to. This can be a shock and many users are alienated at first because they just don't get some of the fundamentals at first. I'd like to see much better help screens that are thoroughly interlinked with the KB and documentation. Having superb online support would make a world of difference with the adoption of this basically powerful tool.
  • Any analytics product can affect ROI if used well. The impact depends on the analyst far more than the product. Having said that, I've seen companies go from data frustration to data addiction (and big ROI) once Webtrends is working properly for their situation.
The drawback of not having on-the-fly segmenting and drill-downs makes the difference between a 7 and a 10 here. In another month, after I've worked with the new Webtrends Explore product, I'll come back and re-score this.

Other than that ....

The ability of the standard product to re-analyze back to 90 days is a huge differentiator.

If you want some really finely-honed filters, content groups, etc Webtrends probably has the flexibility to set them up exactly as you want, by configuring them in the UI. This is really Webtrends' strength - once you know what you want, you can almost always get it out of Webtrends, fix it in place, and get great insights.

Over time, Webtrends has added a lot of parameters to the data that its tag collects and you can do a lot with them. Webtrends' weakness, at this point, is that you have to do some thinking ahead for those finely focused reports. Of course, there are zillions of out of the box reports that area ready to go.

Also, if you won't accept the usual SaaS model where your data is held elsewhere, Webtrends Analytics On Premises is just about the only thing out there that has any power. Ditto for needing to re-analyze data going really far back, or analyzing server log data.

If you don't have a lot of IS support, meaning the ability to create code changes in the site when you want to change some of the configurations, Webtrends' smart tag and the many options in the admin UI can save you. (Don't let tag management vendors make you think that you won't still need IS all the time. You may not need IS per se, but you will need a technically savvy person to run the tag management!)

Using Webtrends Analytics

The obstacles to renewing are 1) finding people to manage it who know it well and 2) frustration because of the lack of on-the-fly analysis. Usually, renewal prices are reasonable and the cost of switching to something else when you have a somewhat complicated setup far outweigh the renewal costs, especially if your implementation is sound and your reports are humming along.

A lot of renewal decisions are going to hinge on the new product that will start to roll out this month.

Webtrends Analytics Implementation