National Instruments puts fine-grain metrics to work

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With more than 25,000 customers in a wide array of industries worldwide, the b-to-b marketers at test and measurement firm National Instruments face some unique challenges. For one thing, National Instruments directly sells more products to more customers—within shorter sales cycles—than most other b-to-b manufacturers. Given the speed and volume of its business, the company needed a Web analytics solution that could segment and reach individual customers in a fine-grained way. “We really use [Web analytics] to look at the long tail of our business,” said Christer Ljungdahl, director of Web and direct marketing at National Instruments. “We need to be able to drive down and get a granular look at how all our campaigns for different products and industries are working, as well as how they are working [in] France versus the U.K. versus the U.S.” To reach this level of analysis, National Instruments deployed Unica Corp.'s Affinium NetInsight on Demand. The Unica platform is able to handle very large and complex relational data sets, as well as provide self-service tools that let hundreds of marketers across National Instruments view trends and metrics to help steer their businesses. “All of our marketing activity—Adwords, SEO, press releases, advertising, seminars, trade shows—is structured to capture interest, and raise awareness and ultimately drive prospects to our Web site,” said Michelle Rutan, National Instruments Web program manager. By deploying a more real-time, JavaScript-driven Web analytics package like Unica rather than a simple weblog analysis platform, National Instruments is able to attain the more detailed analysis it requires, Rutan added. For instance, Rutan's team today builds campaigns with highly targeted landing pages that can be targeted at the individual product and country level. Such landing pages often deliver visits in the tens of users, a level that may not be significant enough to really register with a log analysis tool, Rutan said. Yet analyzing prospect interest in such a fine-grained way is absolutely vital to turn browsers into buyers, she said. “We would lose a lot of important data and behavioral information if we had to disseminate those users to less-targeted landing pages,” she said. “Historically, Web analytics tools have done a certain amount of aggregation of data that tends to compress and ignore low-frequency visits to a page.” National Instruments' next step is to better use its wealth of Web data to drive specific leads, Rutan said. “We've been focusing a lot more on how to use Web traffic data and tie it to CRM systems to change how leads are scored on the back end,” she said. For now, that work is on the macro- rather than individual level. But the ultimate goal is to continue driving down to an almost real-time, market-of-one approach—all driven by Web analytics. “More and more, all of our marketing is focusing online and, as a result, we're seeing a much greater demand for analytics,” said National Instruments' Ljungdahl. “That has put an expectation that you can almost immediately measure the response you get to different marketing activities as well as the ability to have a faster response to that information.” M
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