Most web developers and experienced digital marketers would hesitate to change any feature of a website without first understanding what it does well, which means that some kind of analytics system is a necessity for getting a complete picture of your site’s effectiveness.
Without a good analytics system, and an exact understanding of how people are finding your website and what they are coming for specifically, any kind of success your website may have will come randomly.
With a wide variety of analytics systems available, and some of them already pre-integrated with CMS or eCommerce platforms, choosing the right system depends on your familiarity with analytics systems and the unique design of your website. If you are new to analytics systems, we recommend you use Google Analytics.
Google Analytics: The Everyman System
There are a few benefits to Google Analytics that make it a widely accessible and easily usable interface, that will allow you to develop a more complete understanding of your website without having to pay a dime. However, the system’s lack of server analytics or the slight discrepancies in data accuracy may persuade you that Google Analytics is not the right choice for your website goals.
That being said, Google Analytics has become the defacto system for web analytics, and about 95% of our clients run it. If there is one tool you should learn to use to help with better decision making based on web data, this is probably it. There are arguably other more accurate or customizable tools that would give you more data, but those tools pale in comparison to the big picture data perspective that Google Analytics can provide to marketing teams. Google Analytics has become a kind of universal in the industry; examples of its visuals have been pasted into millions of Marketing and KPI decks.
Intuitive User Interface: The Google Analytics user interface is a large and complex tool, but it is still one of the most simple interfaces on the market. It’s well organized and incredibly intuitive once you’ve familiarized yourself with it.
Great Canned Reports: Google provides you with hundreds of clear reports, saving you the effort of going into the system and digging through data yourself to try to piece together an understanding of how your website is doing. Most likely these reports are most of what you will ever need as a marketing team to make clear decisions.
Advanced Features: Google Analytics offers endless opportunities to create your own event tracking, filters, custom dashboards, and views of your data, in addition to comparison features. The auto-generation feature is an added benefit for busy marketers, after you get a dashboard or report filter set just right, you can have it emailed to you in PDF or Excel format every week so you can easily check-in.
Integration Light: Google Analytics integrates easily with any website platform. In some cases, like with Magento®, some websites come with Google Analytics pre-integrated, ready for you to activate whenever you wish.
Google Analytics is Free: You can have complete access to a website analytics tool without having to pay for the service. You can observe how your users found your website, what exactly they visited on your website, and how they left.
Web Analytics Made Simple: For marketers with less technical knowledge, this is a simplification of the information of activity on their website, and you can get a lot of detail without a lot of technical language. If you are interested in server analytics see New Relic.
Communicates With Your Other Google Systems: If you’re doing any other kind of marketing, you probably have other Google accounts monitoring your SEO, marketing automation, or social platforms. Google Analytics syncs all those accounts together and allows them to communicate, giving you a more accurate evaluation of the success of your marketing campaign beyond measuring the response to your website.
Why We Recommend Google Analytics
While Google Analytics is not the most accurate analytics software—it’s useful for making decisions at higher stakes levels, not down to the penny—it’s free and offers a simple system to start familiarizing yourself with.
It also offers a broad picture of information sought after specifically by marketers. If you are looking for a low-cost tool that offers an easy layout of your website’s analytics information, Google Analytics is definitely the way to go.
Note: If you do decide to install Google Analytics on your website, we recommend that you install it with tag manager in order to use the tag manager system in addition to the analytics tools.