Measuring your activities as an online marketer is arguably one of your most important tasks. As the old saying goes, if you don’t know where you are headed, how will you know when you get there? Google Analytics is a very popular and robust platform; however, it is not the only option for tracking out there. We would like to point out some of the alternatives (both free and paid) that are available on the market for tracking your website and other marketing activities.
- Free (up to 10 million hits a day – if you surpass that, you can afford to pay for tracking)
- Data-rich basic reports like time on site, page views, bounce and exit rates, geo-location and pretty much any other basic reporting you can think of
- Custom date range with comparison
- Log analyzer
- Multilingual reports
- Live data feed
- Tons of ads in reports pages and elsewhere on the site (I guess they have to make money somehow)
- No apparent support for customizable tracking
- Terms of service says you cannot change the code snippet used to count page views
If you are looking for an alternative to Google, but don’t want to miss out on all the great data, give this one a try. It’s pretty easy to set up — you just have to provide your name, email and website URL, then embed their code on your site and you are good to go.
If you are looking for a low-priced and feature-rich tracking platform, Clicky has a pretty good offering. They have a free limited version; however, the paid one is about 20 bucks a month and worth the cost for some of the features you get. The free plan allows you to track one website and up to 3,000 page views per month. If you are a heavy user, this won’t be adequate for you. The pro plan gets you three websites per month and up to a million page views per day. Custom pricing is also available.
- Free (good for small sites with low traffic)
- Heat maps
- Engagement reports
- Custom reporting
- Easy setup
- You pretty much have to pay if you have a site with any kind of high traffic
- An annoying Clicky Analytics button shows up on your website by default, although it can be removed.
- Even for paid accounts, some historic data is purged once a year (Why, Clicky! Why!)
Normally, I like to point out platforms that are of high quality and also free, but sometimes that isn’t possible. If you are interested in something more comprehensive than GA, but can’t afford their premium package, you may want to check out Click Tale. Don’t get me wrong — at almost 1,000 dollars per month to start, this is not something that novices or those with tight budgets should consider. It does offer a lot of compelling features, though, and for businesses heavily immersed in activity online, it has some great tools.
- Heat map suite: a full suite of visual reports that track mouse movements, clicks and scrolling. Keep in mind that this isn’t a traditional heat map that tracks eye movements, but it’s pretty cool stuff
- Captures keystrokes, as well
- Link analytics: You can view reports on how visitors respond to and interact with the hyperlinks on your site. You can even track mouse hovers, hesitations and hovers that resulted in a conversion (sweet!)
- Form reports: I don’t think I have seen more in-depth form tracking functionality. You can see where users abandoned a funnel, what fields are tripping them up or are too ambiguous, as well as a refill report, which gives data on how often users have to go back and refill form data
- Lots of other basic data reporting features
- It’s expensive for solo marketers: There is a free plan, but it is only good up until 400 page views per month, which even a brand new site would blow through easily. Premium plans start at around 950 dollars and go up from there
- There have been questions raised elsewhere on the web as to the reliability of the tracking software. For example, one user reported using a form built with AJAX that gave users helpful feedback while filling in form fields. In the video made by Click Tale to report user behavior, the AJAX generated suggestions were not visible. These would be important in determining why users are having trouble with certain fields
If you search the web, you will find dozens of other self-hosted and web-based tracking platforms. I picked out these three because they were moderately comparable to Google Analytics, and had some pretty compelling features. If you are in the market for tracking software, look for something that will fulfill your goals. Your goals may be specific if you are looking for a platform just for your business, and they may be more general if you are planning on using tracking on others’ websites.
What platforms do you use to track your website activity? What benefits do they bring to the table? What are their drawbacks?