Data has taken never imagined proportions today, be it any industry. Every click and every key press of an Internet user is data for some business. This volume of data rightly earned the name ‘Big Data’. As Eric Schmidt of Google tells us, “There were 5 Exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every two days”. All this data by itself would be meaningless unless put through the right analysis.“ Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine”, said Peter Sondergaard of Gartner Research. Businesses are increasingly making important decisions using data. Quite naturally, web analytics tools are in high demand.
Google Analytics – the ‘Google’ of web analytics
If for many users of the Internet, Google has become synonymous with the Internet, it is not without reason. Google constantly strives to give the cutting edge in everything, most of which is given free of cost. The company invested $10.5 billion in R&D in 2014, which was around 15% of its revenue. Google analytics, being the most popular web analytics tool is indeed the ‘Google’ of web analytics. It is a free tool that provides a host of options like a customizable dashboard, emailed reports (daily, weekly and also yearly), comparing performance between date ranges, geographic details of visitors etc. It can help identify which parts of your website are luring clicks, and which are shooing away visitors.
Why Google Analytics is not enough
Although Google analytics is a handy tool, there are reasons why it is useful to look at the alternatives too.
- Google owns the data. With Google analytics, you are handing over your site’s information to another company and you have limited ownership. For many, it is disconcerting that a foreign entity controls so much information.
- Slow technical support is a major turn off. Getting a reply to a mail from Google can take weeks. Also, nothing can match the feeling of personalized and dedicated support from a smaller but more human support system, unlike a large-volume of automated support.
- Inability to track traffic from Java disabled browsers can cost a lot of data not being captured. This becomes a major handicap to track visits from mobile phones.
Three alternatives to Google Analytics
Advantages – It provides real time data about video and twitter analytics as well. A cool thing about this tool is the on-site heat maps, which projects a heat map onto your webpage itself showing precisely what on the website garners visitor attention. It provides an on-page button to see your page’s stats without having to go to another page. Mobile version is also available helping you track your website on the go.
Disadvantages– Clicky lacks in-depth analysis as compared to other tools and its simple interface leaves much to be desired.
Pricing – Clicky has a free version and paid versions that start at $9.99 monthly or $79.99 annually. It is one of the more economical web analytical tools
Advantages – The major advantage with KISSmetrics is that it helps you track individual data and know the activities of particular users, which is usually hidden in the aggregate data offered by many other tools. KISSmetrics has excellent customer support with quick response to emails and calls.
Disadvantages– KISSmetrics fails to provide real-time data on users. Many users complain of the long loading times of KISSmetrics’ reports and with many help dialogs and menus; the interface is a bit overwhelming.
Pricing – the starter pack is priced at $200 a month with limited functionality. For better reports a basic plan of $700 a month is popular. For tracking larger amounts of data, Pro and Enterprise versions are also available.
Disadvantages – The interface is quite dated and lacks the breadth and depth of data that many other tools offer. Accuracy of numbers is not one of the strong points with StatCounter.
Pricing – It has a very flexible pricing with many slabs starting from $4.40 to $350.88 a month and also has a free subscription that provides data up to 250,000 pageloads a month.
In the words of Harvard professor Gary King, “Big data is not about the data”. It is about how you can analyze the data.