Best Website Analytics tools for 2014
Since its launch in 2005 Google Analytics has become almost unassailable in the world of free website analytics, with 57% of the world's 10,000 most popular websites using the popular site statistics suite.
Google Analytics give us the data to make smarter decisions about our websites and our businesses. Whether we are looking to increase traffic, improve conversions, conceive content ideas or do any of a myriad of other tasks, our analytics suite will often be the starting point.
Clicky prides itself on being easy to use, in fact they confidently claim to be the easiest analytics service you have ever used. Ease of use often means simplicity and Clicky certainly doesn't provide the depth of data that an expert Google Analytics user might expect, but to Clicky and its loyal users that is one of the key advantages! Most site owners never look at most of the in depth data and the addition of live data makes Clicky appealing to many. Despite its claimed simplicity, Clicky does offer useful click-stream data, visitor level information that Google doesn't share through analytics. Clicky is free for up to 3,000 daily page views with paid packages starting at under $5/month.
Mixpanel is another package that headlines with real-time analytics, however it is their handling of conversion funnels that stands out for me. In particular; the ability to be able to create and analyse funnels retroactively in a way that is both quick and elegant.
Cohort analysis in Mixpanel allows you to track the retention of your product, graphing how often customers return after their initial visit – a great metric for building a stickier (and more profitable) site.
Mixpanel's pricing structure is based on how many events you track, which might seem confusing to some. However they have a free package allowing you to track up to 25,000 data points which can be increased to 200,000 if you give them a footer link in return. For most sites that would be more than adequate to at least test this innovative offering.
FoxMetrics gives you the ability to track metrics that are specific to your business, in the form of events. Using their API you could for instance track software installs, newsletter views, media consumption or almost any event that you can get to trigger an API call. These events, along with more standard metrics, can be used to trigger personalization of your website based on user behaviour. Simple examples of this might be displaying a “subscribe” call to action to visitors who have read multiple pages, or a different banner to newsletter subscribers. FoxMetrics offers a free package for up to 25,000 events and premium packages from under $10/month.
Open Web Analytics is the open source community's answer to Google Analytics and has a look and feel that will be rather familiar to many. Rather than being a hosted solution, OWA is a downloadable program that you install on your server. Whist this means some extra work at the outset it does also mean retaining control and ownership of your site's analytics data.
In terms of features OWA does it's best to mimic Google Analytics and covers the key features quite well. OWA adds tracking of mouse movements and visual heatmaps to the feature set which will be of use to those with a casual interest in usability. However the key selling point of Open Web Analytics is not really it's feature set, but in offering a self-hosted and open source alternative to Google Analytics.
Many site owners will be aware of Kissmetrics thank to the excellent blog they run, yet I suspect far fewer have tried their analytics solutions. Kissmetrics tries to make analytics more personal by tracking, and allowing you to easily visualise, the user life-cycle. If you've ever found yourself wondering why some of your site visitors are so much more valuable than others then Kissmetrics allows you to drill down to see the behaviour of individual visitors on your site and how that has changed over time.
The other great draw of Kissmetrics is the ability to analyse conversion funnels in real time and produce clear visualisations of your site's ability to convert visitors to whatever goals you set define.
Kissmetrics don't offer a free service level, but their focus on actionable data should mean that the $30/month starting subscription isn't too difficult to recoup for any commercial site.