Obviously, something must be known about the visitor for this to work – perhaps they created an account, put some items into a shopping cart and then quit. If the visitor was totally unknown and there was no authentication mechanism and they had not supplied any contact details then the opportunity may be genuinely lost but it can’t be argued some chance of a second bite is infinitely better than no chance.
There are countless other benefits of a tool like the WAM. Just this last week I myself have been using a scripting engine to record a path through my employer’s web application and then pumped up the replay speed to stress test the web site with hundreds of simultaneous visitors so performance and responsiveness could be measured and quantified in a controlled way.
That said, load balancing and stress testing are not new concepts, and neither is web site health checks in general. These will help organisations avoid losing business due to unexpected downtime or insufficient capacity but they’re not the only things to focus on.
What is important to grasp is that by paying careful attention to the path a visitor takes it can be possible to get a second bite at a customer.
Here’s where a company’s IT department can go beyond providing a reliable infrastructure and become a business enabler, aiding the sales team in recovering opportunities that they otherwise would not have known existed.
Although I’ve spoken about a specific product which I had personal familiarity with, the concept is logical and straightforward and consulting Google will reveal others, such as Omniture SiteCatalyst which claims to provide detailed metrics and figures on visitor actions and behaviours.
I'm not familiar with that package, and doubtless there are others, but at least you know the types of features to check for; simple web site reponses are not enough. You want to know where and why visitors drop out!
You might even opt to build your own system from scratch, making use of popular open source tools like the Analog web server logfile analyser.
Whichever way you proceed, the important thing is to mine your log files because vital business information could be being lost with every unread log file that is rotated and lost.