Before we get started, I want to clarify that this article is not to be used as a way of deciding whether or not to monitor website data – the answer to that is an astounding yes, and reasons to why can be found in my previous article – Top 50 eCommerce Tips Part Two, Data Analysis. Instead, this article should be used as a way to grow your knowledge on the advantages and disadvantages of the Google Analytics tool and perhaps debate whether the tool provides you with everything you need for your business. Now to get started…
Google Analytics is one of the most well known and widely used tools to track digital analytics. The tool offers ample amounts of data on your website audience, audience behaviour, website acquisition and conversion metrics as well as a real-time view of the audience on your site. Because of this, it is a very loved tool which is rarely thought of or spoken about negatively.
While there are definitely a lot of pros to using the tool, there are also some drawbacks. For example, it’s complex, lacks independence and is it entirely reliable? All of these limitations will be explored in the second half of the article, but first, let’s kick things off with what other pros can be taken from using the Google Analytics tool besides the wide range of data it reports.
Advantages of Google Analytics
Ultimately, Google Analytics works as a one-stop shop for all of your website data. It not only allows you to see your website’s performance across a range of different time scales but also compare the performance of different channels, platforms, technologies, demographics and campaigns all in one place!
Ultimately, Google Analytics works as a one-stop shop for all your website data. It allows you to see your website’s performance across a range of different time scales, channels, platforms, technologies and campaigns, all in one place!Tweet this now
The tool’s smart interface neatly displays this information in a collection of graphs, tables and charts, helping you digest the information quickly and easily at just a glance. This increased visibility also means that the tool is easily shareable and digestible by other users, should you need a third party to take a look at the account.
One of the biggest pros of using Google Analytics is the insights you can take from the data. Looking at the site performance means you can make judgements on what aspects of the site are working well and which need improvement, allowing you to better tailor your efforts and maximise its return. Plus, all of these decisions and changes are made based on real customers on your site as opposed to assumptions and guesses which were used prior.
It’s Completely Free!
Google Analytics is free of charge so everyone can use it. However, sadly this does have a limit. When your site exceeds 5 million impressions per month, you are required to pay for Google Analytics 360 which is a hefty $150,000 per year. While that seems like a lot of money, this is targeted at large corporations as opposed to SMEs. Plus, when your site reaches 5 million impressions per month, there is an assumption that you should be able to meet this cost demand. If not, then I think there is a need to revisit your website usability!
Resources At Hand
For new users, Google Analytics has its very own Analytics Academy which works as a hub of information on how to use the tool. It has four, easy-to-use, step-by-step courses ranging from beginner to advanced so you won’t be left in the dark with this one!
With Google Analytics being a universal tool, means anyone, anywhere, can jump into your Google Analytics account and understand how your website is performing. This is particularly attractive for business owners working with third parties overseas such as international clients or agencies.
Can Be Used Across Multiple Devices
Another great thing about Google Analytics is that it is not restricted to just desktop devices. You can open the tools on any device such as a mobile or tablet as long as it has an internet connection. Perfect for business owners who are often on the move wanting to browse the account or need to access it in the instance of an error on the account.
Now for the cons…
Disadvantages of Google Analytics
It’s Still Limited
While Google Analytics offers copious amounts of information on your website performance, it is still somewhat limited. For example, the Google Analytics 360 account has much higher data collection limits, more data importing and product integration options as well as reporting improvements just to name a few.
Not Entirely Independent
Google’s Analytics tool is arguably the most reliable and accurate, however, it is still technically Google reporting on Google’s performance, making it not entirely independent. For example, when looking at organic traffic in Acquisition reports, this is Google reporting on how well Google search engines drove users to the site. While this doesn’t display shiny, gold performance each time, its validity is questionable.
Google Analytics can be confusing and overwhelming for new users. In order to understand all of its complexities, you need to learn. The issue with this it that is can be fairly time-consuming to sit through the training, practice the tool and become familiar with where the information is. So if you have a time frame, it may not be feasible.
Reliability Is Questionable
Google Analytics is known to report things incorrectly. For example, when using the default channel grouping settings within acquisition reports, you will often find traffic is reported under the wrong source such as social traffic appearing as a referral. This skews figures making the data less accurate and therefore less reliable. Similarly, spam and bot traffic are often reported in Google Analytics causing the same issue. The extra annoyance with incorrect reporting is that it cannot be deleted, so when you come to analyse and review data across that specific date range in future, figures will be inaccurate.
Finally, Google Analytics is a vast and informative tool. As a completely free complement to any eCommerce business, you’d be foolish to ignore the sheer volume of data specifically tailored to your site, despite its notable drawbacks.