Even though log analyzers are one of the fastest growing product areas right now, most of us have only seen the typical web stats offered by the hosting company. They usually offer something like "Webalizer" or similar freeware products.
If the site only contains 4-5 pages you might be able to get some useful information out of the "normal" web stats, but most of the time the information is either impossible to grasp or vital parts are missing. Typically all information is truncated and you only get the top 10 or top 30 of everything.
How can this generate money for the client?
Well, a shopkeeper will keep an eye on everything that's going on in the store. Do people pass by some products without noticing them? Do people just take a quick look and then leave? In a real life environment you constantly keep track of all those details, the same thing should be true for web sites! There is no point paying for a site when people just take a quick look at the "wrong" page and then leave!
Analyzing web logs is not like spying on people, what we are trying to do is to make the site better by looking for patterns!
So what can the log analyzer do?
- First, and most important, it can make sense of a HUGE quantity of information!
- Where do your customers come from?
- Where do they exit the site? (Does that page need improving?)
- How long do they stay? (At the site and/or individual pages)
- How many visitors return, and how often?
- How many visit the site for the first time?
- Where do the new visitors come from?
- What routes do they take through the site?
- Where do people enter the site?
- How many of the visitors this week clicked the link in the email promo?
- Etc, etc...
As you probably have guessed by now, this is a gold mine if you want to improve the visitor experience, the site in general and sales figures!
How can this generate business for you?
Most log analyzers offers great tools for automatically creating sophisticated reports and it's here you enter the scene! You can offer your customers a new service and expand your business relationship, maybe you should meet with your client every third month or so to discuss problems, solutions, improvements, etc... This is a great way to both generate business and to keep a site at peak performance!
Personally I'm running an application called "Mach5 Analyzer" http://www.mach5.com/products/analyzer/index.php but there are many tools available and the price range is very wide!
Mach5 is not very expensive and they offer an evaluation download, so it might be a good starting point if you want to find out more about this.
Update: The nice guys at Mach5.com have told me that GoLiveCentral.com visitors will get a 10% discount on the Analyzer. If you decide to buy it, just enter this promotional code at the order page: GoLiveCentral
Last, but very important, the server must be able to produce log files that you can download. The best scenario is if the server can log cookies, most hosts can offer that service, but you probably need to ask for it.