As I have previously written about last August WASP (Web Analytics Solution Profiler) is a web analyst and online marketers dream for providing validation of web analytics implementation as well as a quick reference guide to various analytics tools among other features. It is one of less than half a dozen plug ins that I use on a day in and day out basis. I recently had the opportunity to ask Stephane Hamel, the creator of WASP about his Firefox plug in, the feature sets, costs, and what insights he has gained from WASP.
1. I find WASP to be an invaluable Firefox plug in day in and day out but can you explain for our readers why you developed it, and why web analysts and online marketers should use it?
Over the years I’ve been involved in a number of web analytics implementations for sites of varying size and complexity, using tools from all major vendors. Business users sometimes viewed tagging as a trivial activity, often handled by developers who had never done it before, unaware of the importance of tagging. Poor implementation quality sometimes lead to catastrophic results and disbelief and distrust in the value of web analytics, contributing to the opinion that “web analytics is hard”.
Forrester analyst John Lovett said that “42% of web analytics clients surveyed reported data accuracy as an important factor when selecting a vendor”. Yet, a thorough quality assurance of web analytics tags is rarely part of the initial implementation and data quality is impacted as the site evolve and tags are left out of the loop. The “garbage-in, garbage out” adage holds true. While analysts are wary of cookie deletion rates and sometimes doubtful of vendor algorithms and data handling reliability, the primary source of error is in the tagging itself. Tools to conduct quality assurance audits are either too technical or out of reach for most organizations.
2. What feature do your users find to be the most valuable in the feedback that you’ve received?
Web analysts find the sidebar very useful for spot checks. Instead of looking at source code or using technical tools such as proxies and debuggers, the 49$ “WASP for Analyst” speeds up the process, guarantee the tags are firing, and presents their values in a human friendly form. With partners who are helping out, such as Omniture, I’ve started to add advanced tags validation of data types, length and other vendor specific features.
Organizations that are in the process of implementing love the “WASP Pro” crawler, selling at $499 for unlimited number of crawls on any sites. A simple wizard guides you through a couple of options and launch the process of visiting your site pages while gathering specific and precise tagging information. Using the built-in data browser or exporting to Excel makes it a snap to uncover untagged pages or those potentially sending the wrong information.
And lastly, as is often the case when innovating, a couple of companies started to inquire about WASP’s ability to look at several sites and bring back vendors market shares information. At $750, “WASP Pro + Market Research” can be used by vendors and agencies for business development, competitive analysis, or simply to find out what other companies in a specific vertical or region are using (especially handy when a company is doing an RFP process).
3. Costs are obviously a concern, and your packages run from free to $750 depending upon the license and features. What is your most popular license and recommendation for those online marketers and web analysts?
Even though $499 or $750 might seems high to some people, alternatives are much more expensive or simply unavailable. Find a single issue with your tags and you will recoup the cost, stop loosing valuable time checking tags instead of doing analysis and providing insight and WASP will be beneficial within a week. Did I say the cost if a one time fee until v2.0 comes out? I’ve thought a lot about the financial model, ranging from totally free (but I’m no Google!), vendor sponsored (but it quickly became too complex from a negotiation perspective) and donations (which brought only $700 over a full year).
I then specifically targeted agencies and vendors to offer them unlimited use and more advantages, but then again, the economy and sales cycle quickly became too long & complex for a single person business. Thus the very competitive prices and direct sales to end users. With volume discounts and corporate licenses options, I sincerely believe there is no excuses not to use WASP!
4. Can you share with us any trends that you’ve seen recently from your presentation in October with regards to data collected by WASP?
During the fall edition of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington I had the chance to participate in the Industry Insight session where I shared the results of the Top 500 Retail Sites. This will certainly be reiterated at the upcoming eMetrics in San Jose and results will be made available shortly after. From a general perspective, Google continues to gain ground and companies are “double dipping” at an increasing rate (i.e. using tags from two vendors, usually Google and a paid vendor). On the high-end, Omniture Online Marketing Suite seems to be a great strategy and they continue to gain ground in the market. General adoption of web analytics is increasing, other top vendors (Coremetrics, Webtrends, Yahoo! Analytics) are also moving, and some vendors, like the European AT Internet (Xiti) is expanding in America. The troubled spot, however, is certainly the smaller players who had historically benefited from a closer client relationship in specific geographic regions (being eroded by Google). Speaking of market research, I will be working with some partners to provide market share information based on the data being collected by WASP.
5. If rumors are true and Google develop plug in capabilities for Chrome would you consider developing for that as well?
Sometimes, really not often, I receive requests to make WASP for Internet Explorer or Chrome. I’m not excluding doing so if there is sufficient demand (and financial incentives), but in the meantime, this is simply not possible because as you mentioned, the plugin capabilities are just rumors for now. Deep within, I’m much more interested in research & education than building up a whole business around WASP. WASP has now achieved a decent stability and I can keep on improving it, gradually bringing new features to make the life of web analysts easier. I have a couple of ideas, but I would love to hear your suggestions. As a Web Analytics professional, what would make your life easier?
I’d like to thank Stephane for the taking the time to discuss with us his plug in. I highly encourage all web analysts and online marketers to try WASP. If you have any questions, or would like to answer Stephane’s question about what would make your life easier as a web analytics professional please feel free to contact me and I’ll pass them on.