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Pathful: a better web analytics program
My senior year of college, building web pages was the big thing and, at the time, I thought, “Who’s going to need those?” Apparently everyone. The early sites were all about pictures and text and were subsequently judged by how visually appealing they were. Design is only part of the equation though. Today, it’s all about stickiness and conversion - keeping potential customers on the site and walking them down the path to purchase.
To better understand how a website is faring, most marketers use a number of analytics packages to determine site traffic, conversion rates, how well funnels are operating, etc. And while there are a number of analytics programs, there’s a new kid on the block. I talked with Cambpell Macdonald, the CEO and co-founder of Pathful about the frustration marketers have working with existing analytics packages and how easy Pathful is to use.
How did Pathful come to be?
The value in analytics is learning faster to grow your business faster. It’s our core value.
Some of our team is marketers and they expressed frustration around the tools we were using to understand what people do our site and make businesses more money.
There are tools like Google analytics that are good, but they can take a lot of work to set up, analyze data and there’s lot of stuff that your’e missing.
Our technical founder had been working on a side project to understand “behavior in the browser” - what people are doing in relation to the content in a website. We thought if we could identify those relationships and automate reports, we could have a really powerful analytics tool.
At a high level, we capture more data than any other analytics tool, which is great, but it also means you have to understand what to do with the data.
Marketers want to spend their time creating campaigns. With other analytics packages, the only things you get to measure are the things you program to measure. Second, the output is a report and you have to do analysis. We automate both. We tag everything and proactively provide reports letting you know what you might want to add, test or drop to improve conversion.
How does it work?
The program sits on top of the website. It’s very flexible because it’s all built on HTML, so it doesn’t matter if the website engine is WordPress or Drupal or if you’re using shopify or magento for e-commerce.
1) It has a very simple user interface so marketers can ask questions about the content and we report back to them with the results.
2) We use data mining techniques to surface insights to proactively tell marketers what to change, including messages to improve conversations with customers.
Why Pathful vs. other analytics packages?
There’s a fear of investment because most analytics packages require one to two months of time consuming set up, waiting for reports and statisticians to review and determine the next step. With Pathful, you install a line of Java in your website and let it run. We’ll start sending insights as soon as they occur. We’ll even send insights regarding how people are interacting with your site on mobile devices.
Mobile? Tell me more.
If it’s on the web, we can measure it and provide insight. We can pull analytics on swipe, touch, pinch and zoom and we capture it automatically.
When did the company launch?
We launched in the summer of 2012 and had our first closed beta in February 2013. We currently have 100 customers.
Any surprises since you launched?
We found larger companies experience an added value proposition:
1) Because we automate tagging/analysis, we’re making their marketing teams more efficient. They can take action vs. wasting time setting up and looking for the interesting bits of data. That’s additional cost and time savings.
2) Large companies have a fear that they’re not capturing all the data, so when they think focusing on one thing, but realize later that they need to ask a different question, they have to go back into the system and adjust the measurement or change the tag. With Pathful, we capture every interaction so the data is all there and we can get results right away. Because all the data is there, we can get results in real time.
Any key learnings since the launch?
One of the things we wrestled with was getting enough people who were really deep strong marketers early on. We talked to customers and expected them to know what they’re analytics pain was, but they were using analytics to tell them what to measure. It was one of those cases where if you weren’t measuring it, you didn’t know you had a challenge.
This summer, we’ll become a TechStars company, so that’s exciting. At this point, we’re really just trying to validate the core value proposition and which companies we should focus on more and building distribution channels. That said, we’re rapidly bringing on customers and it’s all organic growth.
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