The Truth About Google Analytics

There are two things people really like about Google Analytics. First, it’s free! (And who doesn’t love free stuff?) Second, it provides you with a TON of data. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, doesn’t it?

How could that possibly be a bad thing?

Well, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is far from the best thing. All of that free data is only helpful if you can make sense of it and do something meaningful with it.

Most people can’t and don’t.

Google Analytics data is just too overwhelming for most people. And even if you do know how to interpret that data, it still only tells a small part of the analytics story.

What’s Missing from Google Analytics?

There’s nothing wrong with Google Analytics. In fact, it’s really good at some things! Like telling you how many people visited your website, how much time they spent on your site, and how they got there. It even provides valuable e-commerce reporting…

But…it’s definitely not all it’s cracked up to be.

The problem with Google Analytics is that those visitors have no identity. Everyone who comes to your site is anonymous. There is no person behind each visit. You know they came, you know which pages are viewed, but you don’t know what actions they took, where they went next, and more importantly, you have no idea who they are.

Removing the Shroud of Secrecy

More advanced analytics platforms replace anonymity with identity. They tie each visitor’s actions and activities to a person.

You may not know exactly who every visitor is right out of the gates, but each visitor will have a unique identity with a history of activity. You can see that a specific visitor came in through the homepage, viewed your featured video, then visited your store and browsed through 3 products before adding one to his cart.

The next step is to develop a marketing strategy that gives you an identifying piece of information so that you can assign all of that past activity to a real person – activity that occurred during multiple visits over multiple campaigns. For example, you can gather name and email addresses through newsletter signups or a social media campaign.

This then allows you to design and test campaigns geared towards specific groups of people. Or even an individual person!

Suppose a bunch of people visited your e-commerce site a few times, subscribed to a newsletter or provided an email during checkout, but never actually completed the checkout process.

You can develop campaigns specifically for those people.

If you’re marketing to people in your CRM, you have their email addresses and probably their name, too. When you deliver promotions and offers to these people, you can observe their activity, see what they’re buying, and further segment and prioritize your list.

These advanced analytics platforms provide deep insight into who your customers are and how they behave on your site.

Tracking On-Page Actions

If you owned a physical retail store, how frustrated would you be if you couldn’t watch your customers shop once they got to your store? You’d never know what products or parts of the store piqued their interest!

Standard Google Analytics forces you to wear blinders while people peruse your site.

If you want deep insight into the people who visit your website, you need to know what they do when they get there. If they arrived through a landing page, how engaged were they in that page? Did they watch a video? Did they scroll to the bottom of the page?

There’s a reason why they say “you get what you pay for…”. Out-of-the-box Google Analytics isn’t designed to track these kinds of actions and provide such deep insights.

Of course, if you hire an expert and deploy a custom Google Analytics installation you can track a significant number of interactions and give you the deep insights you need to manage and run your business online.

However, there are still some limits to Google Analytics. Your customers are still anonymous and it’s difficult to understand the motivations behind each customers.

Alternatives to Google Analytics

KISSmetrics. Mixpanel. Coremetrics. These are the main platforms we’ve used to get to know our clients’ audiences more intimately.

These platforms provide all the tools you need, but don’t be fooled! It’s not as easy as throwing some code on the top of the page.

If you want in-depth information, you need an in-depth strategy.

At Metacake, we love advanced analytics. We help our clients understand what can be measured, and specifically what they should be measuring based on their unique business objectives. Then we do deep analytics installations to measure every action desired and translate all of that data into actionable insights.

That’s how we transform a heaping pile of “data” into meaningful information with real business value.


Need help gaining actionable insights from your data?

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