Web Analytics

Its time we talked about Google analytics

Google Analytics is the defacto name anyone thinks of when they think web analytics. It is a powerful product, whose power is only shadowed by its popularity. More than 50 million websites and businesses worldwide rely on Google Analytics to measure their web traffic.

While it is both popular and powerful, it exists to serve more of a tool for Google’s ad platform than for your growth needs. As such, Google passes the buck on to you when it comes to analysing all that raw data. It shows you a bunch of charts and figures, and then expects you to go crazy with it on your own. The problem is, small business owners neither have the time, nor the bandwidth, or the marketing expertise to effectively wade through those muddy waters. The result? You end up looking at your daily visitor chart and a few others and that is that.

But the fact is, web traffic data analysis holds a lot of potential, and if you are using Google Analytics right, you would witness substantial uptick in your business in a very short time.

Should you use Google Analytics?

It is a personal call. Personally, we recommend against it, but then again, we are in the same space, so you will have to excuse us for being biased towards our own product. Why you should or shouldn’t use Google Analytics depends on a lot of factors. Let us look at a couple of them.

1/ It isn’t privacy friendly

Google’s ad network’s ad delivery capability depends on knowing as much about the online populace as possible. In a large part, it is made possible by the massive mesh of websites that use Google Analytics for their web traffic monitoring. Yes, Google is monitoring your websites’ visitors, even after they have left your website.

While Google will claim they give the users the option to opt out, it sounds hollow when you consider the fact that the so called Incognito mode in Google Chrome tracks users as well.

So, what does that mean for you, as a business?

To use a legal term loosely, you are an accessory. This is why you need to have GDPR and cookie settings banners on your website. Because even when your website isn’t tracking your users, the third party script you used (in this case, Google Analytics) does. And since it all started with your website, you are on the hook for it.

With Europe and now California (and soon, countless other jurisdictions) cracking down hard on visitor privacy, you need to be more mindful of the implications here, even if you hadn’t considered it before.

Switch to a privacy friendly analytics platform like Benne to stay on the right side of things.

2/ It is complicated

GA is complicated af. If you are a marketing expert, you may love it. If you are a small business owner or a tech entrepreneur, you are probably only using 10% of what the platform measures from your website.

And even for marketing experts, it is no breeze. Though they know what to look for, it is a labyrinth of reports and data dumps that they need to navigate through to find the right data sets. And then, once they have found it all, they need to analyse the data on their own. That is just a lot of time spent doing pretty much busy work for the most part of it.

3/ It isn’t helpful

I came across an article on Crazyegg about Google Analytics. Let me share a snapshot of a section from that article. Tell me if you can smell something wrong.

Crazyegg article on GA

All of it is shocking to me. Not surprising, but shocking, yes.

Yes. The vast majority of GA users actually just use it to monitor their traffic volume. It is available right in front of you when you log in, and skimming through it takes all but a few mins. You skim through it quickly, you close the tab, and get on with your day. You do that because other than knowing which way your traffic moved yesterday, you learnt nothing. Anything more detailed than that will take hours and hours of digging through data and analysing it to the end. And that is what we have a problem with.

Second.

Seeing your traffic go up and down

I don’t think that even needs any additional bashing. That one word “seeing” is all you need. There is nothing more the platform offers you as a business owner who is looking to grow their business. You just see which way the tides are turning. Everything else is on you.

Third.

Something is working. Something is wrong.

All these three things are continuation of the same problem. You just get access to raw data with GA, not data intelligence. That is where insights platforms like Benne excel.

We don’t just show you a snapshot of your traffic. We tell you what all factors are moving the needle. Maybe there is a twitter thread about your brand that is gaining a lot of traction. Maybe you were mentioned on a website with a niche, engaged audience. The clearer picture you get about the factors moving the traffic, the better you would be able to plan your next move.

So, is it time to ditch GA? We think so, but if you still have questions, we would love to answer them for you. Or, just reach out to us on Twitter.

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow. Abhishek

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