Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The advent of Google analytics was for most web users a fantastic way to track and monitor website activity free of charge. This piece of software was created after Google purchased the Urchin Software Corp in April 2005. Demand was so high when Google launched Google Analytics that they soon suspended applications and created an invitation only model.
For what it is, a free analytics package it cannot be faulted. How can you complain about something that is free? Well I’m going to try….For webmasters who do not engage is any form of online marketing, be it PPC, Affiliates, OMP, then Google analytics will suit you just fine. You can monitor conversions, bounce rates, traffic, the list is endless. All very well and good, but it does have its limitations. I am always staggered as to why companies will spend thousands on media but pennies on analytics. To accompany Analytics, Google also launched Google Adwords tracking, a very simple and basic way of tracking PPC campaigns.
Here are some of limitations of using both of these packages..
• People delete cookies (upto 30% according to some estimates). Some advanced tracking packages such as E-tracker have ways round this by tracking a pixel. I know when I started using it the recorded conversions increased dramatically.
• There is no customer support for Google Analytics, all there appears to be is qualified companies who charge extortionate hourly rates for assistance.
• Ad block software will often block the Urchin tracker.
• The data can be incomplete – often I see hundreds of clicks from the keyword “(not set)” meaning Google has not been able to resolve what the keyword was.
• You cannot see users journeys, for example a user will often come back to a site on different keywords but the conversion is always attributed to the last keyword, often the brand term. This distorts the value of your PPC campaign and it makes generic keywords look overly expensive.
• You cannot integrate different marketing channels in Google . For example if you are running an OMP campaign, a user may click a banner ad, then later click a PPC ad, then perhaps later come through the brand term on natural search. A decent analytics package can track these kinds of user journeys. By doing this you can optimise each marketing channel.
If you are spending £50 a day on Adwords for example then clearly it is not worth spending £500 a month on an analytics package. But if you are spending big sums on money, particularly across the various marketing channels, then it is well worth investing in a decent web analytics package.