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Citrix Systems uses Web analytics to boost results

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Citrix Systems, an enterprise software company, has multiple goals for its website. The site (www.citrix.com) educates customers about products and services, serves as a branding vehicle, provides information for customers and partners, and generates leads for channel partners.

The company has a variety of metrics for success, including measuring search engine optimization, customer and partner satisfaction, and recruitment for an end-user event called Synergy.

Susan Zykoski, marketing business analyst for Citrix, said she uses the company's search engine optimization tools to find out which terms are most often searched on a monthly basis. For example, "virtual desktop" is a very effective search term for Citrix; it's searched 200,000 times per month. But the phrase "virtual desktop applications" gets only 2,000 searches per month.

Citrix relies on NetInsight from Unica Corp. to track search engine optimization and provide other Web metrics. NetInsight shows referrals by search engines, visits per month based on keywords and more. It tracks visitors' paths through the site to help gauge the quality of user experience.

Using the data from NetInsight, Citrix can determine goals for each of its product groups, which might include education about a new product or generating sales leads. It also assigns each website visit a weighted value based on the visitor's activity. (For example, did the visitor download a white paper, look at a video or fill out a lead form?)

Citrix plans to upgrade to the next version of NetInsight, which will include social media metrics. "What that does is tracks our user experience," Zykoski said. "If they start on Twitter, when they come to Citrix, do they fill out a lead form?"

Citrix also uses Web analytics to track the effectiveness of a company branding campaign that includes both print and Web advertising as well as highway billboards. Ads point to different landing pages and, by measuring visitors originating on those pages, Citrix determines how effective the ads are.

Another area where analytics is proving extremely useful is in generating attendance at Synergy, the company's end-user event. Citrix is generating leads for Synergy using e-mail blasts, search engine optimization and marketing and banner advertising. The company uses unique tracking codes in URLs to determine which campaigns are most cost-effective.

"As these things are launched, we code them all. I know where visitors are coming from, page views from campaigns, and I can overlay that with registration. And then what I can do after all that is said and done is determine how much did we spend on each of the registration vehicles to get a registration," Zykoski said.

Web analytics have provided some unexpected insights. For example, using NetInsight, Citrix found sponsored links from Google and Yahoo were most effective. Four keywords drove 80% of registrations. Interestingly, those four were "software forum," "IT conference," "network security seminar" and "software presentation," Zykoski said. "This is not what we would have projected, which is why analytics is such a great vehicle to show you facts about what is really happening," she said.

The company redesigned its landing pages and minisites for Synergy to highlight those terms and optimized the sites to funnel visitors through to registration.

Web analytics showed that online ads, specifically banners on industry sites, had the highest cost per registration, Zykoski said. "In one case we spent $20,000 on a campaign and only received one registration [attributable to it]," she said. Knowing the effectiveness of different campaigns enabled Citrix to increase registrations while maintaining or even reducing its marketing spending.

Originally published March 8, 2010

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