The world loves Google, right? How can you complain with free Web search, free email, free blogs, free picture sharing, free video sharing and all the disk space in the world with which to do it? So when Google released Google Analytics, we all said, “why not?”
Why Google Analytics?
Well, for starters, it’s free. When your marketing mix and marketing tracking tools have ever-rising costs, a free tool for Web analytics is right up every CFO’s alley. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I heard the murmurings of the old adage “you get what you pay for.” Granted, that was apropos when Google Analytics first launched, but they’ve gotten far better tools and reporting since then. But should your company solely rely on it?
Is It That Cut-and-dry?
So doesn’t it make sense to use analytics tools that read data you already are collecting? When you rely on Google for analytics, you’ve just increased the bandwidth used by your visitor. (Ask Time Warner, this will be an issue in the future.) You’ve also increased the time it takes to display that page, because you have to wait for the connections to Google to be made, processed and returned to the visitor.
So Why Does It Matter?
For your personal blog, or your start-up, brick-and-mortar small business, Google Analytics is a fine tool. For the most part it gets the job done. But when you heavily rely on accurate visitor traffic, you need something that analyzes ALL your data. If your average target demographic is not a dumb novice computer user, you’re probably missing data on many of them.
I recently sat through a presentation where the primary marketing officer talked about multi-variable testing on creative and landing pages and the usual lather, rinse, repeat that every good marketer should be able to preach. They talked of diverse audiences and of key words, SEM, SEO, SMM, ad spends, tracking and analytics and pretty much every marketing buzzword you could think of. Lastly, they lauded their clients’ organic placement. Yet, I ran simple searches for their key phrases and only came up with one of their clients in the top-ten. This made me suspect.
Post-meeting, I approached one and asked about A-B testing of creative to landing pages and of methods of tracking used. On cue, I was told they test multiple creative ads and “of course” they test multiple landing pages with each of the many creative ads.
Yet, I was shocked that a multi-national company that effectively flaunted their reputation in this presentation so matter-of-factly stated they relied solely on Google Analytics. This company has dozens of large organizations as clients. Each of these clients should have far outgrown a solution that consists only of Google Analytics. However, this entire marketing department that juggles dozens of client sites uses the free, unrobust tool.
To Use or Not To Use?
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying don’t use Google Analytics. I’m saying it shouldn’t be the primary means on which you base your marketing decisions. Worse yet, it should not be the basis of marketing decisions you make for others.
4 thoughts on “Web Analytics: To Google or Not to Google”
I agree, Google Analytics doesn’t catch it all, I personally prefer analytics tools included in the control panel of my hosting company, like Webalizer.
I agree, I also see that they cannot track a lot. But I wonder why do you expect multinational corporation necessarily hosting their own tracking solution?
Can you imagine how hard is it to convince upper management about getting money for that? Or keep such a project from bloating out of proportions? Especially with the tons of people believing their opinion is important and capable of doing a lot of damage unless somehow pacified? Besides, it’s not like you need a precise science here.
The key here is that Google Analytics is free. Most of the other services charge a lot of money and there does not seem to be anything in the middle. So either take the free software and live with the results you get, or pay a lot of money. I am not sure this will change any time soon.
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