Performable, Kryptonite proof?

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Where to begin… well, let me start with a metaphor if you will:

“If Stan Lee was a developer, marketeer and/or analyst, Performable is what he would have created; a super hero among online analytics tools.”

After my recent blog post about Adobe announcing their Adobe Tag Manager, Christopher O’Donnell from Performable responded with:

“Performable offers pre-integrations with a range of third-party apps like help desks, email service providers, billing systems, social networks and much more, making cross-platform measurement completely turnkey and independent of IT involvement.”

Although I am really charmed with all the pre-integrations, what really caught my eye were the last 4 words “independent of IT involvement“.

[alert color=yellow align=center]UPDATE: Hubspot acquired Performable on June 16th 2011 (read press release)[/alert]

It’s time to break free!

Over the last several years I have had the pleasure to work with several large companies assisting them with web analytics and optimization strategies. The red line running through all my encounters was the simple fact that web analytics’ tagging was difficult to implement, but also to maintain.

Single tags, universal tags, whatever you would like to call it, a revolution was needed when it came down to solving such business critical issues regarding the collection of online insights. Before everyone starts to shout and scream at me, let’s make sure we are all talking about the same thing here.

Tags and Tags

Tools like Google Analytics Yahoo! Analytics, Digital Analytix (formerly Nedstat), GetClicky and so on, all offer a form of universal tagging. A simple inline javascript that will collect a lot of data for you from your website. Like any other tool, though (think Adobe, Webtrends, Coremetrics, AT Internet and Unica) if you want to get more granular information from your online visitors you will have to implement custom tagging. In short, custom tagging means longer implementation time and more intensive use of in-house (or worse, external) resources… in other words, more expenses.

Why isn’t this the case with Performable?

So, what is it about their tracking technology that will help us reduce our dependency as analysts/marketeers on IT? Performable uses a single inline javascript in combination with HTML DOM Objects, specified using CSS selectors, much like jQuery accesses the document to track a website. Not very exciting at first since DOM Objects have been around for a long time, but once you start using it, it can get addictive, even if it was only because of the sense of freedom it gives you.

Can I choose what to track?

With a properly W3C formatted website, most of your (relevant) data will be available through DOM Objects. Performable, although officially still a start-up, has been hard at work building new functionalities often by the request of its clients taking on many challenges with notable vigor and persistency.

I personally experienced this and was flabbergasted by the speed with which they realized this. Called on Friday, tested on Monday, launched on Wednesday. This only acknowledges their customer centric approach is a hard core rule and no longer a feeble idea or corporate mumbo jumbo. In other words, a lacking functionality, doesn’t mean it can’t be added. In other words, just because a feature is not there does not mean you won’t see it tomorrow after requesting it!

Let’s be honest, Performable is not Google Analytics, it is not even traditional web analytics per se. The approach to analyzing and acting on data is more intense, more real, relevant and timely. Performable seems more concerned with individuals and allowing marketers to identify and work with segments of users, to create automated emails, for example. So compare Performable with care.

Be real about your goals!

Performable’s business approach is therefore completely in line with their technologies capabilities being more user centric than data centric. It is not necessarily an online analytics solution, but a new online analytics philosophy. KISSmetricsHiten Shah phrased it nicely when he said that “People pay you, not pageviews” [Tweet Link].

This new user centric approach to online analytics focuses solely on what you are trying to achieve with your online activities. It is not meant as a tool to monitor and analyze visits and pageviews but on analyzing how well your visitors can achieve their goals, which coincidently should be your goal, conversions!

It is because of this new approach that collecting data through DOM Objects has proven to be very valuable and relevant to online business operations.

Conclusion

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about universal tagging as far as online analytics is concerned. The sleepless nights, endless hours of waiting for IT to publish or even update existing web analytics codes on a website are all a thing of the past… well, almost. My advice would be to keep a close eye on vendors like Performable, KISSmetrics and Celebrus and challenge yourself to look at online analytics from a different angle, that of the visitor.

DISCLAIMER: In all fairness to other vendors, Performable is not the only ‘new style’ player in the market today. KISSmetrics and Celebrus (formerly Speed Trap) work with a similar technology. I am in no way affiliated with these companies and this post and future posts will in no way be sponsored by vendors. Performable, KISSmetrics and Celebrus all offer many different kinds of features and integrations, many of which I have not covered in this post or even have room for in a single post.

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About Matthew Niederberger

Matthew works as Conversion Optimisation Manager at Ziggo BV. In his free time he enjoys family life as well as digging into online user research material whilst frequently generating some of his own, which he freely shares here on actualinsights.com.

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