Online B2B marketing is fraught with questions, but when it comes to website analytics, there’s really only one that matters: “So what?”
The old saying, “If it’s not worth measuring, it’s not worth doing” sums up our view of website analytics pretty perfectly and if we had to, we’d hazard a guess that you feel the same way. There are probably numerous spreadsheets, P&L statements, expense reports, stock quotes, and a hundred other types of measurements floating around your offices right now. You keep track of nearly every aspect of your B2B business, so why should your website and online marketing program be any different?
In all fairness, most of you reading this probably already have Google Analytics connected to your site (if you don’t, you should) or watch metrics derived from a marketing automation system, so trying to “sell” you on the idea that metrics are important is just preaching to the choir.
But we get asked a lot about which website analytics platforms are the best, which ones are most accurate, and if complexity really does equal superiority, so we wanted to take this opportunity to review our favorite website analytics tools and hopefully provide a useful recommendation or two that will help you to gain insight into how your website is performing, so that you’re never flying blind.
NOTE: By no means do you need to subscribe or use the following tools together, as many of them perform similar functions. Make sure to demo any tools before you commit so that you can find the mix that’s right for what you need to monitor and go from there.
It should come as no surprise that Google Analytics is at the top of our list. It is the quintessential website analytics tool for many businesses, and for good reason. Not only is it powered by Google, but it includes nearly any information you could want to see and allows you to customize the experience to get even more targeted (especially with some on-site coding skills). And, best of all, it’s free!
Aside from its prevalence in the marketplace, Google Analytics easily integrates with Google AdWords to track any of your advertising efforts and with Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) to see which keywords your website currently ranks for.
One thing we like about Google Analytics is that you can make it as complicated or as straightforward as you want. For example, there are ways to block specific IP addresses and filter out certain types of traffic. Or, you could set up Dashboards to track only certain information that’s important to your business. Or, set up some on-site conversion goals and monitor standard traffic levels. Google Analytics pretty much leaves it up to you to decide what you want to track and how much time and effort you want to invest in tracking it.
If you’re just starting out with website analytics or don’t have the need for a crazily robust system, Google Analytics is the place to start.
In most cases, when a company is going to make the switch from Google Analytics to a paid service, Clicky is where they go. As a free service, Google Analytics is one of the best there is, but Clicky goes a step further to address some of the issues that might bother some Google Analytics users.
One of the biggest benefits of the Clicky platform is its focus on true, real-time analytics. Anyone who has worked with Google Analytics long enough knows there is a delay (roughly 24–36 hours) in getting final information for all available data points, but Clicky distinguishes itself by focusing more on real-time analytical relevance.
Clicky gives a ridiculous amount of information and even provides heat maps so you can see exactly what people are looking at when they visit your website. Clicky makes it a mission to give you the easiest and most in-depth view of how your site performs and who it performs for. For most of their users, that mission is accomplished with flying colors.
If you’re in the e-commerce game, KISSmetrics was built just for you. While a very popular and powerful analytics engine for any website, KISSmetrics definitely realizes its full potential when used in conjunction with a commerce-based site.
Like Clicky, it’s not free, but there’s a lot of value associated with the cost. The team behind KISSmetrics goes to great lengths to make sure it is easy to use for people that may not be as technically savvy as your developers. Honestly, one of the largest benefits of KISSmetrics is the time is saves you by eliminating the back-and-forth with your IT department as you work to establish goals on site and track certain user actions for better insights.
Using Website Analytics to Achieve Your Goals
There you have it: our highest-recommended website analytics tools to keep in your toolbox. Just like you’d never build a house without a tape measure, we would hope that you’d never build an industrial website — or a business — without some sort of measurement process in place.