WebAnt Analytics – climb inside your customers mind

WebAnt was a holistic web analytics and automation service servicing corporate clients on the Australian market. WebAnt proved to be a competitor (at the time) to Red Sheriff (now Nielsen NetRatings) when the Australian market was not overcrowded with analytic tools. Overthrowing Red Sheriff as the web analytics provider of choice for MBF – Australia’s largest health benefit fund.

Our service offerings

  1. Web Analytics tools and reports ranging from the standard client analytic type to website overlays, dynamic component tracking, email blast tracking, trend reports to footprints (heatmaps) et al.
  2. Automation tools and reports to allow WebAnt subscribers to generate “phantom customers”. Then sending them interacting through subscriber http / https site and report back on findings. This proved to be the hottest and most value adding service add-on since it identified problems before they escalated / affected the larger online user community.

Automation in more detail

Automation plugin called InSite
Automation plugin called InSite

Quick facts

Life span: 3 years.
Founder: 1 (me) + multiple outsourced contractors on a need basis.
Profitable: From the start – 20% in expenses and rest profits.
Why terminated: Google Analytics entered the market – hard to compete with free.

Some product screen shots

Trivial background history: WebAnt began its life as BlueArrow (logo below) which was built as a complementary offering to a web design business I and a former AMP colleague ran. The web design business was my 1st true business out of University. Former AMP executive management invested in BlueArrow and WebAnt was born with branding capabilities to allow anyone to resell the product.

Precursor to WebAnt
Precursor to WebAnt

Top 5 things I learnt from this venture

  • You need to spend money in order to make money. Sometimes more than you are used to / comfortable with. This was my biggest fear (initially) since the hardware cost us around USD 1,000 per month, yet it was only a fraction of what we were earning once we got it rolling.
  • Linux sh*ts all over Windows. We had both stacks (initially) and Linux always impressed me with its stability, up time, ease of maintenance without taking the site down and super performance. Need I say more lol.
  • Don’t get tied up in a “which language” debate. At the end of the day you are solving a business problem and whatever tools work at the time stick to them. BlueArrow was built-in classic ASP (remember this), then it was ported to PHP as WebAnt and later we introduced parts in C# & Java. It worked, we were profitable, it was fun to learn new languages and our clients were happy. Just make sure you monitor performance and stay on-top of the game (trends) and adjust as needed.
  • Results are everything and talk is just bullshit. Don’t get excited about a potential partnership / expansion unless you start seeing some results like customers signing up and/or your bank account dollars increasing. Everyone around you wants to make money off your idea and will talk it up like you will be a millionaire tomorrow. Just focus on your business and give them the tools to go away and bring those millions. Never lose focus of you goal.
  • Build a profitable business from the start. It’s alot more fun knowing that every sweat and late night you pull in is rewarded financially. The harder you work the more money you make (not always but you get the gist). Don’t hope that one day you will find a way to make money, do the hard-work now (at the start) and you will have more rewards. Take a read of 37signals/DHH style companies on being profitable and proud: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=169197

When I walked away from this venture I knew the ins and out of web analytics. I considered myself very well-informed. And to this day I still hold a very keen interest in data mining, analysis & analytics. Yes today I use Google Analytics for most projects which require tracking since it’s a lot simpler and easier than building your own home-grown solution + it’s a very powerful tool when used correctly.

Ernest

Author: Ernest W. Semerda

IQBOXY cofounder, GSDfaster founder and The Road To Silicon Valley founder/editor. Follow me on Twitter: @ernestsemerda or Google+.