Ask the Experts: Should I use an alternative to…
Q: We are a medium-sized business and we’ve been using Google Analytics for a long time and never really questioned it. Should we switch to an analytics program other than Google Analytics?
A: The short answer is: probably not. Most businesses of your size that we’ve worked with get everything they need from Google Analytics. Even when an alternative analytics solution is put in place, we typically recommend keeping Google Analytics in place alongside the other solution.
Here are some reasons that we’ve known businesses to look into another Analytics solution:
- Data Processing Limitations: Google Analytics only processes a certain amount of data. Going beyond this limit will cause data sampling. If you have traffic significantly beyond these limits (e.g., more than 1 million visits a month), the data sampling in Google Analytics will begin to yield potentially inaccurate data.
- Complex Tracking Needs: If your business has a large number of websites or a large number of channels, campaigns and variables to track, this can be cumbersome in Google Analytics.
- Individual User Tracking or Real-time Tracking Needs: Google Analytics is great at analyzing traffic and sources and looking at user behavior in segments. It’s not necessarily built to analyze engagement and understand what each individual user is doing on a website. Businesses that need to track individual users or who want real-time data often pursue different solutions.
- Privacy Concerns: Despite Google’s assertions to the contrary, some businesses don’t trust Google Analytics to keep their website data private, or not to use their website data for Google’s own nefarious purposes.
Here are some common alternatives to Google Analytics:
- Free alternatives to Google Analytics
Two top free alternatives are Clicky (which offers realtime tracking) and Piwik (an open-source solution that runs on your own servers, which can overcome privacy concerns). Based on usage/features, there may be some charges for these solutions.
- Paid alternatives to Google Analytics
Top options in paid alternatives are Google Analytics Premium, Adobe Analytics, and Coremetrics (IBM Analytics). These are generally off the table for most small or medium-sized businesses due to their cost. For example, Google Analytics Premium can cost $150,000/year. In our experience, Adobe Analytics and Coremetrics are not built with organic SEO needs in mind as compared to Google Analytics.
- Analytics solutions for insight into individual user
Mixpanel and KISSmetrics are analytics offerings that we would consider not as alternatives to Google Analytics but as supplemental tracking options that can help a business gain more insights about the behavior of site users.
We’re always happy to talk about matching analytics offerings to needs! Let us know your analytics questions or suggestions in the comments.