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Companies turn to new tools to measure Web 2.0

IT managers are looking to use data studied by new analytics tools to improve customer loyalty.

By Heather Havenstein
November 10, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Large companies are slowly starting to install upgraded Web analytics tools to gather and scrutinize data from their growing numbers of second-generation online applications.

For years, enterprises have used traditional Web-analytics tools to simply measure page views and keep track of traffic on corporate Web sites.

Now, with the spread of corporate-sponsored Web 2.0 applications such as blogs, chat rooms and online communities, forward-thinking IT managers are starting to install tools that can measure and analyze activities there.

Some executives say that companies could use the data from these sites to significantly improve customer relations and even measure the buzz surrounding their brands.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. first created an online community -- Scott Common Sense -- for users and potential users of its Scott personal care products in 2004. Earlier this year, the consumer products company began taking steps to analyze the data compiled by the Web 2.0 application.

The community has evolved to offer information such as personal finance and healthy living advice and enables members to interact with one another. This year, the company added information about Scott products for the first time.

Kimberly-Clark launched its effort to analyze the Web 2.0 data with the installation of a beta version of a so-called marketing warehouse from Portland, Ore.-based WebTrends Inc.

The WebTrends Marketing Warehouse operates as an enterprise-scale hub for online and offline data storage and analysis and can integrate the Web data with other corporate information sources, applications and systems, said Dirk Hoerter, team leader for relationship marketing at Irving, Texas-based Kimberly-Clark.

One key early finding: The more a user participates in the community, the more loyal he is to the company's products, Hoerter noted.

Kimberly-Clark is now using the warehouse to link data compiled on its community site with customer profile information, helping it identify its most loyal customers and determine which content they view or tools they use. Thus, the company can serve up the content most sought by the site's users, Hoerter added.

Over the long term, Kimberly-Clark hopes to use the analytics tool to determine the interests of specific segments of users, such as those whose children are going through the toilet-training process. In this case, Web 2.0 analysis tools could find groups of users whose children are ready to move from Huggies diapers to Pull-Ups -- both of which are Kimberly-Clark brands.

Kimberly-Clark will probably add more online communities, and the ability to analyze their data, for its other brands.

The WebTrends warehouse became generally available late last month.

John Lovett, an analyst at New York-based JupiterResearch LLC, said that companies like Kimberly-Clark can't afford to ignore information that may be spreading through the Web 2.0 landscape of company-hosted blogs and social networks.



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