Some 86% of businesses use Google Analytics for web metrics, which is not surprising, since it’s free and powerful. Amazingly, 82% of online retailers are using Google Analytics or analytics in general incorrectly, according to Econsultancy. A lack of skills and resources is the main reason analytics is not done right. Many people think you can just install the Analytics code and have any web person review it, but it takes some training and a strategy to really get up to speed.
Google Analytics excels at giving you great insights into how people are getting to and interacting with your website. It shows you where visitors are coming from, what they are actually clicking on, and how they are interacting with your site.
Google Analytics offers these benefits:
- Stretches your valuable marketing dollars since it is free and powerful.
- Includes enterprise-level features out of the box!
- There are many training videos and blog posts available online about how to use it.
- Its omnipresence means you’re never without user support.
Content Experiments is the replacement for the amazing Google Website Optimizer, and is a tool that lets you do A/B testing to experiment with different versions or combinations of headlines, images, and landing pages in order to increase conversions. Using this program, which is now included as part of Google Analytics, could make you more money than all your traffic-driving activities combined. That’s because a low conversion rate can mean you get limited sales across the board, but if you increase your conversion rate, you could double or triple your revenue in a matter of months.
Google Analytics is what most small to mid-sized businesses use. Some of my favorite analytics gurus are Avinash Kaushik, whose blog is Occam’s Razor at kaushik.net, and Jim Sterne, author of Social Media Metrics.
Please review the other analytics options below, because no single tool has all the answers.
HubSpot isn’t just a tool, it is an attitude. When you sign up for HubSpot’s paid service, they put you through boot camp during their required consulting process. They get you to do things like blog almost daily and create downloadable content (like ebooks and case studies), free consultation forms, landing pages, and calls to action for the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel. They get you into the type of low-cost lead nurturing that used to only be available for much larger companies.
Yes, HubSpot is software, but it’s more than that. As HubSpot says, “Google Analytics shows you raw numbers of users. HubSpot shows you real people.” Analytics software is useless without traffic and leads to track and follow up on, so HubSpot combines driving traffic with analyzing and converting it. The software does this by tracking the actions of visitors, corporations by IP address, and visitors by name after they fill out a form on your site.
HubSpot lets you:
- Track real people, not just data.
- Track hundreds of keywords.
- Manage social media profiles and track social ROI.
- Analyze traffic, leads, and bumps from tradeshows and events.
- Hyper-analyze lead details and conversion rates.
- Nurture leads with email and automated marketing campaigns.
- Compare your search engine rankings, links, and social media to competitors over time.
- Get far more leads than through a standard Internet marketing campaign because it brings many elements together under one roof and encourages best practices and much more.
HubSpot connects the dots between things like social media, email, your customer relationship management (CRM) system, and even off-line efforts over longer stretches of time than Google Analytics. From the minute a visitor comes to your site through the point at which they convert into a sale, even if it’s months or years later, HubSpot tracks them and gives credit to the channel that first introduced them to you. This is a game-changer and is truly one of the biggest developments in recent marketing history. Google Analytics Multi-Channel funnel reports, and the attribution modeling tool, both use a 30-day lookback window which is not enough time to give full credit across channels (especially if your sales cycle is longer than 30 days).
HubSpot integrates with your website so that leads go into your CRM system (such as Salesforce). Once a customer takes an action, like filling out a form, you not only see what company they came from but who they are, and then you get to see every action they take on your site moving forward. It is so exciting to see a specific person return to your site and visit more pages that are important (those you have defined as being a common path of leads that turn into sales). You can set up emails to go out to users who take steps 1 and 2 out of 3 but miss some important content. By emailing them in a helpful way, seemingly “out of the blue,” with that next piece of their learning puzzle, you can generate more actual sales than through traditional analytics, which doesn’t take this interactivity into account. You might push visitors along the path to conversion by sending emails that share an important blog post about a product comparison or that offer a free trial.
Google Analytics has great data and even A/B testing ability, but HubSpot is fully integrated with your sales team via tools like Salesforce and lead nurturing programs. It is truly analytics on steroids.
Ideally, use both Google Analytics and HubSpot, as they work really well together.
As of this writing HubSpot has three tiers of monthly pricing, with Basic starting at $200, Professional starting at $600, and Enterprise starting at $1,000.
The pricing is also dependent on variables like the number of your sales contacts, the number of leads you generate per year from your site, and the number of email addresses in your list, so you will need to get a custom quote.
ClickTale is a paid tool that gives you playable videos of user activity on your site and lets you analyze such items as scroll reach, heat maps (visual representation of where people click), conversion funnels, form drop-outs, and more. ClickTale does things Google Analytics simply cannot, by letting you actually see what visitors do in a format that allows replays. Did the boss tell you to add a huge rotating banner and put the call to action at the bottom of the web page? Well, he will thank you when you show him that people never scroll down far enough to see the banner or the call to action. Conversely, if people actually do scroll down, ClickTale can tell you how many clicked on the call to action, which will also make the boss happy. Great websites are made by creatives working in tandem with more analytical types. You need real data to justify every creative change you make on your site, and analytics tools like this can provide that data.
Crazy Egg has been referred to as the poor man’s ClickTale. It is a highly regarded tool that starts at only $9 per month and has a free 30-day trial. With Crazy Egg, you can see where users click and discover what Google Analytics is not telling you, thanks to heat map, scroll map, and overlay tools.
Adobe (Omniture) SiteCatalyst
Omniture is expensive (around $5,000 per month) and more complicated to install and use than Google Analytics. However, it has powerful testing systems and integrates well with Salesforce and email systems. This lets you connect information gathered by your sales team with your web data. Google Analytics Premium is a flat $150,000 per year and is a competitor to this advanced tool. You really need deep pockets to enter this domain. To put this in perspective, we only come across clients with Adobe (Omniture) SiteCatalyst once every few years, now that Google Analytics is so powerful.
With that said, some people are mad enough about things like the Google “not provided” issue that there could be a small but growing trend of Google Analytics defectors. Picking up the slack would be Piwik, Omniture, and Webtrends at the enterprise level and Clicky, Statcounter, Mint, Mixpanel, KISSMetrics, Hubspot, and others on the small to medium business end.