Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The vanity of paying for web analytics tools

If it's not obvious then let me come out and say it for the record. I am a massive fan of Google Analtics.
I love this tool for so many reasons. Here's my top 4:
  • It's always improving, new features added almost on a quarterly basis
  • It has almost everything you could possibly need as a professional web analyst
  • It's easy to implement. Tagging is straight forward and it's hard to get it wrong.
  • It's FREE
These are usually the very reasons I hate alternative solutions because they are either lacking in one or all four. You pay stupid $$$ annually for a huge, clunky solution that was probably cutting edge 5 years ago but has languished since in the R&D field for as many years. Tagging will take forever and will be a hateful, hateful experience requiring enormous and valuable IT resource to implement. You'll eventually get it up and running but then realise that one of the key metrics is missing from your dashboard. An early evening call to Seattle will get you talking to the vendor support team who will make it clear that the sales team shouldn't have told you that THAT metric was a feature of your shiny new analytics package. Etc, etc.

To put some qualification to this I can talk from experience of using or evaluating some of the key players in this market who I wont mention or embarrass here but if you're in the states it's odds on favourite your corporation is or has used one of the worst culprits out there.

Which leads me on to my issue of paying for off the shelf web analytics.
Right now the key people in organisations feel a sense of paranoia that if they aren't paying some vendor $$$$ periodically for a high end solution which they will probably only be using 10% capacity of on a regular basis they are somehow doing their Digital strategy a disservice. They feel they are somehow not up with the competition. This is nonsense. If you or your analytics team cant get the meat and veg data they need to get meaningful insight into your online customer experience they should probably take a long hard look at themselves and stop blaming their tools : ) Go ahead, pay that £90K per annum for your 24/7 dedicated management contract, with it's Implementation Specialist and certified Partner support, but don't get caught with your pants down when GA launches it's latest Gizmo, Real-time reporting featurette and you deleted those GA tags from your site 2 months ago because your company didn't want to be seen using a free solution as your primary web data provider.

Happy testing : )