Industry News & Trends

Live Analytics on Your Website is Addicting and Extremely Educational

woopraOver a year ago Jeff told me about a website called Woopra that allowed me to watch site traffic as it was happening on Checkered  I was able to see what search phrase each visitor used to find us, where in the world they were, the configuration of their Internet connection, browser, and operating system along with many other things.  I was immediately hooked!  The learning experience from seeing things happen in real time is much stronger than viewing reports about what had already happened.  Instead of all visitors being looked at on one page of report stats, I was performing tech-psychology on each person.  How long did they spend on the finance application?  What piece of inventory did they look at before submitting that finance application?  Did they click the finance application link on the inventory page or from the nav bar?  Did they use Google to find that piece of inventory and how much did they misspell things when they entered that search query into Google?

To the casual reader, these might sound like silly questions but they’re incredibly insightful to have the answers to when you’re building your website, SEM campaign, or BDC.

Unfortunately, a short time after installing Woopra, we discovered they were installing some sort of feeder on each of our visitors browsers that pinged back all Internet-surfing histories to Woopra.  We quickly yanked the code and went without the live analytics for a while.  EDIT: Woopra has commented on this – be sure to read the comments from this article.

Then I started speaking to Todd Smith at ActivEngage.  We immediately hit it off on eCommerce philosophies and he mentioned to me that a big part of their chat tool is a live analytics piece.  He had even more of my attention!  In fact, he got enough of my attention to bring Checkered Flag on as a new ActivEngage client.  Yes, we have live analytics again – I’m a happy man!

ActiveEngageClientAs I’m typing this article I am seeing that Cash for Clunkers is starting to die down on search phrases and used car searches are on the rise again (a trend I would have had to  of waited days to see in regular site analytics).  I am watching someone who came from jump from used inventory searches on a Pilot to new inventory searches on the 2010 Pilot – that person is obviously doing price comparisons.  That person is also looking at our Honda specials, so the 0% APR financing must be enticing that new car search.  And now that person just left; spending about 5 minutes on the site….and guess what – there’s a lead sitting in the CRM on a new 2010 Pilot that just popped up.  I wonder if that is the same person?  He or she was the only one looking at Pilots.

Just one more example:  I answered a chat from a Mrs. Greene this morning who wanted to know if a certain salesperson was still with us that she had bought a car from in the past.  That was at 8:56 AM.  She came on Checkered at 8:51 AM and is still browsing the Honda used car inventory at 9:21 AM.  She came to our site via a Used Car Honda SEM Campaign and has now looked at almost our entire Honda inventory while spending 3 minutes of that time looking at a Certified 2007 Accord EX-L in Silver.  I have a feeling she called that salesperson and he is guiding her through the inventory and they finally landed on a car.  I’ll check the CRM again in a few minutes to see if he got an appointment.

We are getting ready to launch a whole-new version of Checkered and even though it won’t be 100% obvious what changes we’ve made to get away from the typical dealership website architecture, I can attribute that a lot of the theories and practices we’ve incorporated have come from the knowledge gained from Live Analytics.

Thank you Todd and everyone at ActivEngage!

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
I may be a bit unclear on this but you said "we discovered they were installing some sort of feeder on each of our visitors browsers that pinged back all Internet-surfing histories to Woopra." I looked at woopra's site and they state that they place a cookie on incoming browsers. Most commercial sites do this like amazon etc. is this so bad?
Sorry I wasn't more clear about that Mark. It is a cookie, but the cookie reported ALL browsing behavior back to Woopra - not just on the site the person browsed with the Woopra code. We discovered it as our employees hit our website and our servers were overrun with pings back to Woopra each time they hit a new page on the Internet. It was easy enough for us to install a block, but did not feel this was the type of thing we could stand behind for our customers.

This is a rather difficult comment to leave, because I don't want it to come across as angry or chastising - so please grace me with a little latitude.

I appreciate that you blogged about this topic, as I am a huge proponent of online privacy. In fact, I've blogged about it <a href="" rel="nofollow">endlessly on my personal blog</a>. So, if Woopra were doing as you've suggested - tracking every visitor to your site even after they've left it - then I would be the first person to say it should be dismantled and burned to the ground!

But it is not. And as long as I own and manage the company it never, ever will.

From a purely technical standpoint, what you've suggested to be occurring is literally impossible (not just difficult). I suspect that your folks noticed, and reported a different behavior to you which I'll explain in a moment, but first let me deal with this assertion. As I understand it, you were led to believe that the tracking cookie that Woopra installs somehow persists in the visitor's browser and then reports back to Woopra on all of their future activities. But a cookie is only a small snippet of text which is in no way executable, meaning it cannot "do" anything.

Wikipedia has <a href="" rel="nofollow">a nice write up on it here</a>.

The entire contents of a cookie generally looks like this:
RMID=732423sdfs73242; expires=Fri, 31-Dec-2010 23:59:59 GMT

The only purpose of the cookie is to set the unique identifier so that a Web server can tell if you are a returning visitor or a new one. It allows you to stay logged into a site when you come and go without having to re-enter credentials, for example.

Now, the behavior that I suspect your folks noticed which they misunderstood was as follows:

The Woopra service requires that you install a little javascript on your Web page whose primary purpose is to send us visitor details so we can report it to you. However, the javascript we use also has a timer function which "pings" our server on a fixed schedule - as long as the visitor remains on YOUR site.

By pinging us periodically we can verify that a visitor is still on your site. Without this verification any estimation of a visitor's time is merely a guess. Other services do not have to do this because they are not truly "live". However, I can assure you that the moment the visitor leaves your Web site, they are no longer sending us data, because they are no longer executing the javascript.

I hope this clears up the confusion, and I would invite you to return to using your Woopra account! All the guessing you did about whether the client you saw on your site was the one who filled out the form would be unnecessary, as Woopra would link the two events together for you absolutely. There really is no substitute...

You've got my contact details, and I hope you will reach out to me if any lingering questions remain. We are committed to 100% transparency to avoid exactly this sort of confusion. I just regret that you missed out on collecting a years worth of data in Woopra because of a misunderstanding. But it's never too late to start!


John P.

John Pozadzides
Chief Executive Officer
iFusion Labs (Woopra)
Live analytics is very addicting, I have used Bold Chat for about three years and it has all the features you have talked about and a bit more. I advise owners all the time on the value but very few see that it is of any use to them to sell a car!!! Goes to show most dealers are still way behind Internet marketing.

If I was to be behind a desk again I would absolutly insist on Bold chat again, as not only the analytics are valuable but you sell vehicles almost everyday using that tool, great for setting appointments and completing credit apps. If you do not have one of these chat tools call monday morning and get it, you can get bold chat for ten days "free" just install and go easy as 1,2,3
I sent John Pozadzides an email, but haven't heard back from him. I'm glad he came in here to clarify things.
I think it's awesome when dealers start getting into the analytics, that's really the crux of digital.

I'm curious what dealers are using as KPI's to measure their success. I'm a firm believer in dashboards. Otherwise you risk an excess of information that's valuable, but more detrimental if not applied towards goals.
It be great if the CRM companies provided the option to link data to live customer view.

As far as cookies goes... third-party cookies are track-able across sites. Most browsers have an option to either disable or alert you about third party cookies... Woopra can track the user across two sites... as longs both sites are using Woopra... so can ActivEngage.
Hi Alex,

The little note to read John's comment hardly does the job justice of correcting your misinformation. In my eyes it's akin to a newspaper running a headline article calling someone a rapist only to print an apology saying they were wrong in an 8pt footnote on page 37.

IMHO, make it a all bold, and begin after "EDIT:" with an admission of fault and you might be getting somewhere.

Ste Daniels
Ste - I shot an email off to John at Woopra asking for a little more clarification. He has not responded to me, so what the hell do you expect? At this time all I have is a comment in this article from him - is that enough to go on?

Firstly sorry for sounding offensive. I can only echo what John said. What you claim is impossible. You need to have words with whoever told it was happening and get them to clue themselves up a bit. I don't mean to offend you, as re-reading your post now it sounds like your network bods came to that conclusion and your merely the messenger. Any professional network admin should be able to tell the difference.

Simply put, short of the Woopra javascript include (the defacto standard method that analytics systems use these days) running exploits against your visitors browsers and installing viruses onto your visitors computers it's just not going to happen the way you've been informed.
Ste - Thanks for coming back to respond. I would really like John to respond to me as I think he can help shed some light on Live Analytics and I'd like to offer some Dealer Refresh space to him so he can say more about it to the automotive industry. But he hasn't gotten back to me since August 8th, so I think I am going to pass the offer to someone else.

Since August 8th, I have done a little research myself and have found what John posted to be more accurate than what I was told previously. I still don't fully understand how it all works, so I can't intelligently speak to the various types of coding. Because of that, and the fact that John has not responded to me, I am going to let future readers of this article run off the short Edit and these comments. I would prefer to work with John on another article that takes the focus off of this one.

On another note, I have heard from a few people and companies who have now installed Woopra because of this article.