Google Analytics is, by far, the most popular website analytics tool. It's easy to use, it offers a ton of features and, best of all, it's free. So why would anyone choose an alternative analytics service? As robust as Google Analytics is, some small business users may find that it doesn't meet their needs. For one, Google Analytics is relatively limited in scope, and lacks the flexibility and advanced reporting many businesses need for their specific goals and type of website. It also doesn't provide the instantaneous, actionable data that help them make the most out of their website and marketing campaigns. Whether you need an alternative to Google Analytics or a tool that complements it, here are three options worth considering.
1. Clicky — Real-time, on-site analytics
Clicky is all about real-time data. While Google Analytics can take an entire day to populate traffic and visitor information, Clicky provides up-to-the-minute analytics using any browser or mobile device, or right on your website itself. This app-based and on-site analytics platform puts you in complete control, allowing you to view, analyze and react to visitor events as they happen.
What makes it different:
Individual visitor information
Unlike Google Analytics, Clicky lets you view detailed information on each individual user, such as IP addresses, Internet service provider (ISP), location, operating system, Web browser, referrer, visit length, sessions and actions during a specific visit, and more. Users can also associate individual visitors with usernames and email addresses, view complete individual visitor histories and track when a website was down and for which visitor. [REVIEWED: Web Hosting Services 2014]
Detailed heat mapping
One of Clicky's standout features is its heat-mapping capabilities, which give users a holistic view of what visitors are doing and whether the website is meeting its traffic goals. The heat-map feature shows information like where visitors are clicking on pages, and can be segmented by goal or visitor sessions. Users can also go to any Web page and view heat maps in real time, right on the page being viewed.
Another notable feature is Clicky's alert system. This feature notifies users of specific events, based on triggers, so you never miss out on important information. Triggers include new visitors, goals, campaigns, searches, referrers, IP tags and custom data. Alerts arrive via a desktop pop-up, email message, the ClickyTouch mobile app or Twitter.
Clicky is one of the most mobile-friendly website analytics services. From an analytics standpoint, Clicky offers mobile hardware reporting that shows which mobile platforms are being used by visitors on their tablets and mobile phones. Another advantage of Clicky is that it does not use Adobe Flash, so it's accessible even on iOS and other mobile devices that don't support Flash. To make viewing stats even easier, dedicated versions are also available for the iPhone and other platforms.
Cost: Clicky is free to use for one website, but is limited to basic features and 3,000 total daily page views. A Pro Plus account, starting at $9.99 a month, is required to track additional websites and access on-site analytics, heat maps and other premium features.
2. KISSMetrics — E-commerce analytics
KISSMetrics takes a different approach to analytics. Whereas Google Analytics emphasizes things like page views, referrals and search analytics, KISSMetrics focuses on monitoring each visitor as a customer, to show how a "real person" views and uses your website. It looks at things like which features are being used the most, how they are being used and more. By tracking how visitors become customers, KISSMetrics lets small businesses make better decisions and increase their sales as online retailers.
What makes it different:
If you have an e-commerce website, KISSMetrics will give you everything you need to figure out what works and what doesn't. Unlike Google Analytics, KISSMetrics lets you go back in time and track customers from their first visit to your website and all the actions they take thereafter — how they were referred to your website; the products they viewed and added to their wish list or shopping cart; when they registered for an account; and if and when they made a purchase. This data can help you influence your customers' purchasing decisions, as well as create action items to drive conversion for customers who have yet to make a purchase.
Because KISSMetrics treats individual visitors as customers, it can also track them regardless of which device they use. Instead of segmenting visitors by visit, KISSMetrics maintains a customer profile for each visitor, whether he or she browses your site with a laptop, registers using an iPad or makes purchases with a mobile phone. This data is available regardless of how long it has been since the customer visited or logged in to your online store.
Want to know where the high-revenue customers are coming from? KISSMetrics can tell you where to find them so you can drive more profitable customers to your website. The referral revenue feature can analyze how each source is driving sales and whether paying customers come from direct visits, Google searches, social networks or other traffic sources. Reports include total revenue per referrer, average revenue per person and lifetime value of each referrer.
Cost: KISSMetrics costs $150 a month for up to 500,000 events per month (roughly 50,000 visitors). Note that each plan requires an annual commitment. A free 14-day trial is also available.
3. Chartbeat — Content engagement analytics
Chartbeat helps bloggers, content marketers and other editorial website owners make sense of how readers are engaging with content. It tracks real-time Web traffic and combines it with audience-behavior data to deliver a comprehensive view of which content sparks engagement and how viewers react to them. Chartbeat lets you discover which types of content gets the most hits, so you can publish more of the right stories to better grow and develop your audience.
What makes it different:
Chartbeat offers a multitude of metrics to track audience activity before, during and after visits to your site, including the following:
- Recirculation: Percentage of visitors who read more than one article in a single visit.
- Engaged time: How long visitors are reading, commenting on and idly watching an article.
- Visitor frequency: Gauges new, returning and loyal customers.
Content metrics include acquisition (content drawing in large numbers of new visitors), retention (content drawing highly engaged visitors), top pages, high-converting referrers and more.
If you post videos on your site, Chartbeat can help you discover how viewers are engaging with them. Insights such as play rate and lengths of views will reveal which articles could benefit most from videos (and vice versa) and how they affect in-video ad views. Chartbeat can also measure how individual videos measure up against the entire video library to show which ones are hits and which ones are misses.
Is there more than one person managing your website and its content? Give each of them a personalized dashboard. Chartbeat makes this easy by segmenting dashboards for individual users. In other words, writers and content creators can track only their own content, social media teams can view social activity, website administrators can focus solely on big-picture traffic information, and you, the business owner, can keep an eye on key metrics that matter the most to you.
For most small business users who don't have a technical background, an advanced analytics platform like Chartbeat will require some help. Chartbeat's support team offers fast responses (including social media support), individual on-site training, a Getting Started guide, a library of frequently asked questions and product support pages.
Cost: Chartbeat costs $9.95 a month for up to five domains or subdomains. A free 30-day trial is available (credit card required).
Originally published on Business News Daily.