Understanding the numbers that tell you whether your website is successful can require multiple tools and looking at data that isn’t just found on your own website. You need a full analytics toolbox to work with.
Alternatives to Google Analytics
Just because Google Analytics is a commonly used tool doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look at the alternatives. One of Google’s competitive advantages is that it is free, but there other tools out there that are available at low price points or for free. Here are a few of the more robust options.
Choosing the Right Analytics Package
There are some dramatic differences between these analytics packages. Some are very user-friendly and some are incredibly flexible. There isn’t a universally correct choice. It’s a big time sink, but the best option is to demo each of these tools to see which works best for you. Investing time now can save you a lot down the road if you find that your first choice isn’t working out for you.
If you’re still not sure, consider this: Since you’re probably fairly technically adept if you’re reading this post, it’s worth considering giving up a nice user interface in favor of flexibility. If you’re building your own apps, you may have some unusual requirements that were never expected by the folks who created analytics software intended for users not comfortable with more than cutting and pasting a little code. Take advantage of the API and developer documentation that options like Open Web Analytics and Google Analytics offer. It’ll take more effort to get up and running but you’ll have a lot more options if you need them.
While we generally mean website analytics when we talk about this topic, you can get data on just about every part of your online activity. There are analytics available for Twitter, for MailChimp and for most of the popular marketing tools and advertising brokers online. You don’t want to use every analytics tool that comes along, just like you don’t want to use every marketing tool that comes along.
Conventional wisdom is that you should measure everything you do that moves towards a sale or another type of conversion for your website. But while ‘track everything’ is an attractive mantra, it makes more sense to track what you can specifically improve on. You can tweak your website easily, so it makes sense to track the different variables that visitors provide when they visit your site. But if you just post to social media whenever you feel like it, there’s no point tracking your analytics until you’re prepared to obsess over what you’re putting up on your Twitter account.
Don’t miss out on Part One!
Image by Flickr user Marc Smith