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This would allow us to measure the success of simple marketing campaigns.
BUT, we don't have a fortune to spend - any suggestions?
The only suggestion I would give you is not to make cost the only factor you look at.
A industrial strength analytics package will pay for itself over and over again with management information the free software packages just don't give you.
At the high end every 0.1% of conversion you can eke out with web site or page refinements will create massive residual value.
Dig deeper, use a credit card and then pay the bill in 56 days, if you use it properly then it will have paid for itself before you have to pay for it.
I'm not a believer in false economy, so I can certainly see where you are coming from.
But, what I require is fairly straightforward and all the bells and whistles are not so important to us. Maesuring ROI is a fairly basic calculation. We want to count;
- the number of visits from a certain referring webpage
- the number of those visits that make a purchase
- the value of those purchases
This would allow us to calculate our ROI on a leaflet marketing campaign.
How to Track Users: An Intermediate Guide [webmasterworld.com]
seem compelling in favour of client-side tracking. As for low-cost client-side solutions, that's a different matter and I too would love to hear recommendations/experiences.
the value of those purchases
This is where is gets difficult, because usually this sort of information isn't stored in the server logs.
This sort of information is going to be in your transactional database, so the tricky bit is to interface the two sources of data.
Top end analysis apps tend to either store session/path information in your database or store transaction information in the logs (possibly by calling a 'bug' graphic with a transaction ID attached as a dynamic parameter, or a thank you page in a similar fashion).
If you choose the former option, a simple database query would suffice, and you could avoid log analysis completely. With the latter option, you should be able to use even simple log file analyser to pull out the data you need.
If all of that sounded like a foreign language, you may want to check out Clicktracks and/or Urchin.
Edit: Square brackets!