I was chatting with some colleagues about the recent IBM acquisition of Tealeaf and how IBM has really become a player in the Analytics market over the past two years, buying Unica, Coremetrics and now Tealeaf (and about a dozen other smaller analytics related companies in between). In the midst of the conversation, there was a comment made that stunned me: “Too bad Coremetrics sucks”. I responded, “Really? Why do you say that, what don’t you like about it?” This person responded back with, “Oh, I’ve never used it, I just heard it sucks.” I then spent ten minutes talking through some of the pros and cons of Coremetrics vs. Omniture and GA. Since I’ve used Omniture, Tealeaf and GA for the past year and used Coremetrics for five years prior to that.
I then had several conversations at a recent Seattle Web Analytics Wednesday, which further bolstered my opinion and at the same time helped give me further information about the tools that I have less experience with. (My conversations were with several Omniture power users and I trust their opinion on the tool)
I’ll state this before I go forward: I’m not paid by ANY analytics company so my opinion is only based on usage. None have asked me for my opinion.
My overall simplified opinion is this: If your goal is a large data set with multiple metrics spanning multiple categories (on the same level), Coremetrics core reporting suite is perfect for this. If you are looking for easily segmented advanced or company specific data, properly implemented Omniture code will give you easily accessible reports. If you are looking for an out of the box tool that is easy to navigate and you have a smallish data volume, and aren’t looking for a ton of advanced or company specific segmentation, then GA is a great tool for you. Tealeaf is not a great analytics tool, however it is a great monitoring tool, specifically for things like page latency and one off events such as error messages.
Now I’ll dive a little deeper into each tool:
Google Analytics is a great out of the box tool. Most small and medium sized business (by Internet traffic volume) can use this tool and not need any additional analytics tools. Google’s UI is its best feature, it’s very fast while being very rich in visualization. You have the ability to quickly segment reports and can toggle between default reports and created dashboards very efficiently. It’s biggest flaw may be a lack of depth to the reporting. For example, you can only select three segments to trend in a report and you can only set ten unique metrics in the dashboard view. While I also like the quick left nav interface between report sections, however, I feel that the tabbed reports found in Coremetrics would be a great addition.
Tealeaf really doesn’t even belong in this conversation since I don’t really even view it as a reporting tool. However, Tealeaf’s greatest asset is its highly customized metric capabilities. However, this is also Tealeaf’s greatest issue. While there are some default metrics, most of Tealeaf’s unique value is based upon the events that the event admins create. Unfortunately, most of these events are simply count events and it’s very difficult to extract averages, etc without using Excel. Thus, Tealeaf for me, is a great monitoring tool but not a great analytics tool.
Coremetrics’ tabbed reporting is its best feature, though the Explore reports are a close second (the limited number of reports makes this number two and something I hope they change if they have not already). Again, for full data sets, Coremetrics is set up by default to provide this. However, where Coremetrics really falls short is a lack of segmentation options in their main reporting suite (and as of my last use, the Explore report segmentation did not include a full data set). In my experience, Coremetrics report load response times were very poor, but I’ve heard from other clients that this was not a big issue. Finally, my biggest complaint with Coremetrics was that marketing data is largely siloed from the customer interaction data, so it’s hard to tie the two together.
Omniture’s ability to quickly create new reports from pages in the current report is its best feature in addition to my previous statement about its segmentation capability. The ability to quickly add to a dashboard is also a great feature. As with Coremetrics, there’s a limitation around tying the marketing data in with the interaction data, but some of this can be solved by your variable segmentation if you choose to implement this way. As with GA, I think Omniture could benefit from having the multi tab feature that Coremetrics has so that you can more easily toggle between reports without closing a previous report, however I do think that Omnitures navigation is a bit superior to Google.
My final thoughts are that people should not throw out blind opinions. Especially in the data world. If you have no facts you cannot be an analyst. So, before you make a statement like, “XYZ Sucks” do some research, and learn for yourself before you come to that conclusion. I honestly don’t think Coremetrics is an overall inferior product to Omniture. I think that it has some limitations where Omniture beats it, but it also has some functionality and features that make it better that Omni in certain ways. I definitely think that GA should be part of the conversation as a solid product and I wish that I could get the chance to use Webtrends because I’d love to compare that product to these others.
At the end of the day, if you want to move up in the Web Analytics community, you cannot limit yourself to closed minded thinking. You can’t limit yourself to just using one product. Omniture does not dominate the category, contrary to opinion. Look at the facts, and you’ll find that Coremetrics has as many quality named clients as Omniture, and the products each have great qualities that will help you make sound and actionable insights for your company or client.
If you have used more than one of the above tools (Or Webtrends for that matter), what are your thoughts and preferences?