Google Analytics Review: Is This Free Tool Worth Your Time?
Hey, folks! So, you must have heard that the current version of Google Analytics (called Universal Analytics) will sunset on July 1st. And it will be replaced by the latest version called GA4, which comes with some UI changes and feature upgrades. Exciting, right?
That's why we have decided to do an overall review of this popular analytics tool. In this review, we will check out the features, pros and cons, pricing, and more. Now, for those who don't know what Google Analytics is, let's start with a quick introduction!
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics (GA for short) is a well-known analytics tool that delivers valuable insights into the performance of your website/app. The tool seamlessly integrates with different marketing platforms and products offered by Google, such as Google Ads, Search Console, and Data Studio. This extensive integration makes it a favored option for anyone utilizing multiple Google tools to enhance their online presence and track their digital marketing efforts.
So, what can you do in Google Analytics? Let's find out!
Getting started with Google Analytics requires at least one Google account. Then it needs you to add the name of your property or website (or the website you want to track), its URL, and the industry it belongs to. Google Analytics allows you to add a maximum of 25 views per property. A view (or data stream in GA4) is a representation of the data giving you more insights into the performance of your website/app across different operating systems.
Convenient enough, you can select from three preconfigured data streams: web, iOS, and Android. Also, there is an option to create a custom data stream that aligns with your specific tracking needs. For every property you create, a unique tracking ID and a global site tag are generated which you can add to the site. This is how Google Analytics measures traffic or engagement and collects data to develop useful insights.
After signing in to Google Analytics, you see the home page with a concise overview of your data's interesting features. The first row of cards displays the following information:
Overall traffic and conversions: This includes metrics such as Users, Revenue, Conversion Rate, and Sessions. By clicking on a specific metric, you can modify the graph accordingly.
User volume by day and hour: This card presents the volume of users categorized by both day and hour. Hovering over a particular cell reveals the precise number of users during that specific hour.
Current user activity: This card indicates the number of users currently active on your site and displays the pages they are currently viewing. It provides real-time insights into user engagement.
Other cards on the page offer comparable snapshots of your data, such as:
Acquisition Channels: These cards display the various channels through which you acquire users, including organic search, paid search, social media, referral traffic, and direct traffic. It gives you insights into which channels are driving the most traffic to your website or app.
User Retention: These cards show how well you retain users from week to week. It provides data on user engagement and retention rates, allowing you to track the effectiveness of your strategies in keeping users coming back.
Goal Completions: These cards track the completion of specific goals you have set up within Google Analytics. It could be actions like form submissions, newsletter sign-ups, or reaching a particular page. This data helps you measure the success of your conversion goals and optimize your website or app accordingly.
Except for the real-time card (Users right now), all other cards allow you to choose different date ranges for analysis.
Analytics intelligence is where analytics meets machine learning. It is a set of advanced modeling techniques that enhance your understanding and utilization of Google Analytics data. The key features are:
Search: Utilize the search bar in Analytics to ask questions and get quick answers. Whether you need instant information, reports, administrative pages, insights, account or property configuration details, or help content, this is the place where you start your search.
Automated Insights: Analytics Intelligence automatically analyzes your data and delivers insights on significant changes over time or within a specific segment. For anomalies over time, it runs contribution analysis to pinpoint user segments that have led to these anomalies.
Custom Insights: Set up your own rules to develop insights. You will receive an email notification once the specified conditions are fulfilled. And of course, you can customize the frequency (hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly).
Predictive Capabilities: Analytics Intelligence utilizes Google's machine learning models to analyze your data and predict future user actions.
What sets Google Analytics apart from other marketing tools is its ability for comprehensive reporting. The tool offers several types of reports that allow you to analyze various aspects of your data:
Real-time report: Shows current user activity.
User Acquisition report: Tracks traffic sources.
Engagement report: Measures user interactions.
Retention report: Analyzes user return rates.
Conversion report: Tracks goal completions.
Revenue report: Monitors e-commerce sales.
Explore report: Customizable interface for in-depth analysis.
These reports provide valuable insights into your site/app performance, user behavior, and conversion metrics.
Pros and Cons
Now, let's take a quick look at the pros and cons of Google Analytics.
Powerful data tracking.
Free version (depends on the scope).
Integration with Google products.
Customization and flexibility.
AI-powered data insights and reporting.
Steep learning curve.
Dependency on Google services.
Google Analytics offers two versions - Analytics (freemium) and Analytics 360 (premium). The main difference between the two is the amount of data a user can access. The freemium allows a max of 50,000 rows of exported data and 10 million hits (page views, social actions, etc.) a month. On the contrary, Analytics 360 offers access to 3,000,000 rows of exported data and over 500 million hits a month. But the price gap between the two versions is baffling as Analytics 360 costs a whopping $150,000 a year.
Coming from Google and being mostly free, Google Analytics is a household name in the industry. The tool is feature-packed, and comprehensive. And it provides access to one of the largest databases in the world. Yeah, it does have a steep learning curve but if you put in enough time and effort, you can take your marketing game to the next level.
As far as the premium version is concerned, it is only affordable to enterprises at $150k a year. But in most cases, the free version is sufficient unless you really want to scale up to huge chunks of data. So, if you are considering a data-focused marketing tool, Google Analytics is one of the finest options.