I just got back from Portland, Oregon, where I had the good fortune to have lunch with Eric Peterson, dine with WebTrends (twice), and spend a whole day on the cutting edge of web analytics with the WebTrends Customer Advisory Board.
First, lunch with Eric. It is pretty cool that a guy who barely knows who I am would be willing to take time at the drop of the hat to have lunch. But that is just what kind of guy Eric is. He picked me up at my hotel in a black porsche (I didn’t get the model). It was indicative of the fast paced time we had. I had a blast; talking about web analytics as an industry, talking through engagement as a metric and the challenges around standardization of it, and general web analytics industry observations. Like me, Eric has a passion for web analytics and the web analytics industry, and that made lunch go by way too fast. Since my wife is having our next baby a month before the Xchange conference, Eric let me off the hook for that, So there’s one spot that somebody could grab if they hurry.
The WebTrends Customer Advisory Board is something I am very honored to have been a part of for the last three years. Barry Parshall, the Director of Product Management, and his product management team work so hard to provide a platform for us to evaluate and think with them about WebTrends Products and Strategy from every angle. The setting could not have been better. We had consecutive days of sunshine, and a great venue at WebTrends headquarters in downtown Portland. Here are some of my takeaways.
- WebTrends Dynamic Search. This product offering has officially clicked for me, and it completely validates the acquisition that WebTrends made a couple years ago. One anecdote that helps to explain the potential value of a product like this is that in the course of using WebTrends Dynamic Search over a year’s time the algorithm that tunes and optimizes bids made six million bid adjustments for one client, to achieve the best possible search marketing ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend).
- Bruce Coleman, CEO of WebTrends is a genuine and warm individual who completely gets it. Not that my saying something nice about him adds anything to his huge list of professional accomplishments.
- Saw for myself the excitement and energy that my friends that work at WebTrends have been telling me about since the executive change last fall. This was evidenced by a stronger sense of ownership, transparency, and urgency across the board. I was completely caught up in their enthusiasm. The resurgence within WebTrends is perhaps best evidenced by the recent re-joining of several key executives, that had left WebTrends and are now back and re-energized. That doesn’t happen at a company on the ropes.
- I got a tour of Tech Support. It was cool putting some faces to the names I have talked to so many times throughout my years working with WebTrends.
- I finally met Aaron Gray, blogger and thought leader on web analytics and Web 2.0 measurement. That was really cool.
- Got to meet Mike Keyes. Another blogger and web analytics mastermind that I have looked up to for a long time.
- Got to hang out with the inimitable Chris Grant. Nuff said.
- WebTrends definitely acknowledges that they are the number two in the market right now, but is not content to stay there.
- Despite the turmoil of the executive team turnover WebTrends continues to be profitable and growing.
- As an organization they are turning up the focus on the WebTrends Analytics product. Expect lots of improvements.
- The executive team has thought clearly about the needs they want to address in the marketplace, is able to enunciate it clearly, and has aligned their product strategy accordingly.
- They are acting on customer demands to communicate more openly about product news, development, and best practices.
My overall impression after meeting with the WebTrends Customer Advisory Board and the WebTrends leadership team is one of potential about to be realized.
All in all, it was a great trip to Portland. I would recommend it to anyone.