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The adage is that if you’re not paying for the service, you are the product. Unfortunately, this rings especially true in the analytics world.
The analytics space is changing, though, and there are many alternatives — both free and paid — that take into account privacy, cookie-less tracking, GDPR compliance, core web vitals, and more. The current leader in the analytics space is Universal Analytics (UA), which has been tracking web data since 2005. But Google is going to stop tracking any new data in UA as of July 1, 2023 (Happy Canada Day?).
This is a move to get users to migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), which is a whole new way of tracking and navigating. In a move from sessions to an event model, GA4 will require some knowledge and familiarity to get up and running, as there’s quite a bit changing.
If you haven’t yet set up GA4 yet, or are on the fence, now is the time to take a look at what else is out there and how the landscape has changed. We’ve broken the alternatives up into three categories:
How legal is Google Analytics?
The short answer is: depends on where your visitors are from.
Without getting too deep into legal jargon, the user has control over the options now and although there are a few lawsuits out there I’m sure Google will make the proper adjustments to ensure that everyone using it will be mostly covered, eventually.
This isn’t happening right now and under GDPR there are requirements that Google Analytics isn’t passing. Also, by using a product that’s integrated into other products I doubt they’ll ever see 100% coverage.
Even if you’re planning on installing Google Analytics 4, you can run an alternative to ensure that you’re getting the right data and test as you go
More than a visitor counter, but often simplified, web analytics providers focus on giving services to small businesses, bloggers, and small websites. Their metrics are also the closest to Google Analytics. Most of the web analytics tools below are easy to maintain, quick to install, and don’t need self-hosting. However, some will offer self-hosting in addition to their regular services.
Launched in 2018, Fathom Analytics is a cookie-less, privacy-focused Google Analytics alternative that’s really simple to use. They care about user privacy and pioneered proprietary routes in compliance with the EU for EU visitors. Calling the route “EU isolation”, Fathom Analytics is also GDPR, PECR, COPPA, CCPA, and ePrivacy compliant.
Features of Fathom Analytics include:
Seven-day free trial
Prices start at $14 per month for up to 100,000 page views
Can include up to 50 sites
Shows live visitors and where they’re navigating
Offers uptime monitoring, event filtering, email reports, ad blocker bypassing, live visitor information, and much more from a bootstrapped company
Being privacy-focused, Fathom Analytics has a beautiful interface and offers unlimited CSV exports of your data available at any time. This allows you to conveniently connect it to other data sources. In addition, Fathom is expected to release a backup option for GA data in the near future.
Previously named Pikqwik, Matomo (“keep your data in your own hands”) is an open-source, cookie-free tracking, and GDPR-compliant analytics tool offering a search engine and keywords section where you can connect with Google Search Console data.
Additional Matomo features include:
Real-time data insights (pages visited, visitor summary, conversions, etc).
Event tracking (analyzes user interaction on apps or websites).
Measures CTR, clicks, and impressions for text and image banners as well as other page elements.
Visitor geolocation (stats can be viewed on maps by city, region, or country).
Page and site speed reports.
Page performance (number of views, bounce rates).
You can host Matomo on your own servers for free. Otherwise, their cloud pricing starts at $29/month after a 21-day free trial for 50,000 hits (up to 30 websites).
If you’re already using Cloudflare’s CDN solution, then there’s no setup required. You can simply authorize the web analytics to start tracking inside your account. You can add up to 10 websites for free, and there’s no need for a cookie banner, since they do not collect personal data.
In addition to tracking standard metrics — page views, visits, load times, bandwidth, etc. — Cloudflare has incorporated Core Web Vitals metrics. These are measured each across your tracked websites, and can email you weekly with updates — very handy.
Although Cloudflare doesn’t say they are GDPR compliant, what they do say is that they are considered an “Operator Essential Services” under the EU Directive on Security of Network and Information Systems. You can assume that Cloudflare is tracking something along the way, with a free price tag and with other offerings available where data could be shared.
Cloudflare is closest to server analytics without going directly to your server. It’s only available in specific areas, so you might have to pay for this.
Adobe Analytics is a popular analysis platform that provides tools essential for collecting relevant data concerning customer experience. Company analysts and online marketers frequently depend on it for improving customer satisfaction.
Applying Adobe Analytics to your business website can help you determine what leads to conversions. For example, did changing content or the CTA increase conversions? Did adding more visual aids increase the number of inquiries about a certain service or product?
Adobe analytics is marketed as an enterprise analytics solution with audience insights, advertising analytics, cohort analysis, customer journey analysis, remarketing triggers, and much more. It truly could fit your web analytics or product analytics depending on how your team deploys it, and it has been around for quite a while just like Google Analytics.
Privacy-friendly web analytics tool Clicky is easy to navigate and offers metrics similar to Google Analytics. However, Clicky embodies the feel of server analytics tools while making their interface simple and fast-loading, thanks to minimal graphics.
Features of Clicky include:
Clicky also provides a developer API and white labeling of their solution, where you can create your own theme for better brand integration starting at $49/month as part of their hosted service. They also offer a free tier if you’re looking to try it out with limited features.
EU-hosted, privacy-based Simple Analytics offers tools to use for checking your websites daily. Simple Analytics does not collect cookies, IP addresses, or any unique identifiers. Their package provides a bypass of ad blockers, hides referral spam, and includes an iOS app. You can even embed a widget to get public web statistics.
This GA alternative offers some nifty events that are gathered by default for ease of use. These include email clicks, outbound links, and files to streamline tracking. All of Simple Analytics features come together in a UI that’s a simple dashboard providing quick “in and out” times — much quicker, in fact, than it would take to get to the correct property using Google Analytics.
Simple Analytics offers a free 14-day trial. If you decide to keep Simple Analytics, you’ll pay $19/month, or $9/month if you pay a year in advance.
You can perform any function you want from the Pirsch dashboard, like viewing statistics or adding websites.
Get started by viewing Pirsch’s live demo or opting in on their 30-day free trial. Paying for Pirsch is only $5 per month if you choose annual billing. If you want to make monthly payments, the cost increases to $6 per month.
A privacy-friendly, open-source web analytics platform, Plausible is cookie-free and fully compliant with PECR, CCPA, and GDPR. Plausible is a popular alternative to Google Analytics because of its simplicity, lightweight script, and ability to reduce bounce rates by expediting site loading.
You can easily segment data into specific metrics, analyze dark traffic via Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters, and track how many outbound link clicks you get.
Plausible offers a 30-day free trial option that provides unlimited usage of its features without requiring a credit card. Once your free trial has ended, you can pay $9 per month for up to 10,000 page views. If you choose yearly billing, you get two months of free use. Unlimited data retention, slack/email reports, and event customization are also provided with a paid subscription to Plausible.
Umami is GDPR-compliant, open-source, cookie-free, and does not track users or gather personal data across websites. By anonymizing any information collected, Umami prevents the identification of individual users. In addition, you won’t need to worry about staying compliant with constantly changing privacy lawsi.
Features of Umami include:
Mobile-friendly so you can see stats on your phone at any time.
Since you host Umami under your domain, you won’t see any ad-blockers like you see when using Google Analytics.
Public sharing of your stats is available using an exclusively generated URL.
Umami’s lightweight tracking script loads almost instantly and won’t slow down the loading of your website.
A single installation of Umami enables tracking of an unlimited number of sites. You can also track individual URLs and subdomains.
Since Umami is an open-source platform and self-hosted, it’s free to use. Umami says a cloud-based version of its analytics is coming soon.
Although product analytics are not always GDPR-compliant, they provide powerful analytic tools that include valuable elements like segmentation and deeper levels of customization. For that reason and others, product analytics come with a higher maintenance cost. Here are several product analytics tools that are excellent Google Analytics alternatives for tracking customer behavior.
The traffic analytics tool provided by Hubspot Analytics offers exceptional analysis data for breaking down page views, new contacts, and even entrance/exit information regarding how long visitors remained on specific web pages. You can also install a tracking code to external sites so you can track traffic stats.
Additional features include:
Bounce rate percentages.
Number of call-to-action views/number of CTA clicks.
Conversion rates of visitors who click on your CTA.
Access to specific URLs or country stats.
A subscription to a starter Hubspot Analytics platform is $45 per month. You can choose monthly or annual billing, which is $540.
A professional subscription to Hubspot Analytics starts at $800 per month ($9,600 for one year). This subscription gives you multi-language content, video management and hosting, phone support, and A/B testing.
An enterprise subscription starts at $3,600 per month ($43,200 per year). You get 10,000 marketing contacts with this subscription, with additional contacts available for sale in increments.
Kissmetrics offers analytics for e-commerce and SaaS websites. Kissmetrics for SaaS gives you deep insights into the type of content and features that are fueling conversions, converting trials into conversions, and reducing churn.
Kissmetrics detects characteristics that drive conversions and retain regular buyers, so you can adjust site elements appropriately. This unique analytics tool also streamlines checkout funnels and integrates with Shopify.
Pricing for Kissmetrics SaaS involves three tiers:
Heap Analytics works on mobile and PC devices, quickly captures nearly all behavioral parameters, and supports first or third-party installation. You can also create individual identities for users over numerous sessions and augmented product information to purchase/sales events.
The makers of Fullstory state that if you know how to copy and paste, you’ll have no trouble setting it up. This analytics platform also offers “private-by-default” abilities that ensures masking of text elements at their source.
Mixpanel offers a free subscription that gives access to core reports, unlimited data history, and EU or U.S. data residency. Mixpanel can be sliced and diced to fit so many situations, it’s flexible and moldable for many businesses at many levels.
For $25 per month under their growth plan, you get all the free features, plus data modeling, group analytics, and reports detailing causal inference. Mixpanel also includes features such as:
Segmenting users based on actions
Integrate with Slack to share reports, even if they don’t use Mixpanel
No limits on the amount of events tracked
Team Dashboards with Alerts
Identify top user paths and drop-off points
Understanding of conversion points across the funnel
And much much more.
It’s used by 30% of Fortune 100 SaaS companies and if you need custom pricing and plans,
According to a report available here, Amplitude is consistently ranked as #1 among other product analytics platforms, top software products, and customer satisfaction. You can analyze collected data with fast self-serve analytics that do not require SQL.
Segment has customers across industries including media, medical, B2B, retail and from startup to enterprise. As well you can upload your customer data into their data warehouse to keep your data there so they could fit into the data warehousing category below too.
To get started using Segment, simply make a free account which allows for 1,000 visitors from two sources and access to their 300 integrations or their paid tiers start at $120/month where you can sign up for a team account.
Rudderstack provides developers all they need to get started immediately with this product/behavior analytics. Features of Rudderstack include identifying anonymous mobile and web users, customizing destinations through the application of real-time modifications to event payloads, and automatically occupying warehouses with event and user record schemas.
The free version of Rudderstack gives you five million events per month, over 16 SDK sources and more than 180 cloud destinations. Like Segment you can use Rudderstack as a data warehouse for your customer data and they’ve built their platform as warehouse-first and built for developers.
The Pro version starts at $500 per month. You get the free features, plus email support, a technical account manager, and even custom integrations in the higher tiers. Request pricing for the Enterprise version of Rudderstack here.
Data warehousing solutions
It’s always good to have your data backed up and if you have a lot of history in Universal Analytics it would be a good place to start. There are even services to connect all these solutions together seamlessly, such as Funnel. While these have additional costs, you can save all your data for many years without a problem coming up so you can refer to them when need be.
Available with an easy connection to your GA4 data if you’re leaning that way. Google lists BigQuery as enterprise and there will be limits to how much data you can send to BigQuery before paying. They offer real-time analytics with built-in query acceleration and with the scale of data that Google handles we can be pretty sure that they’ll be able to handle it. Google Cloud Storage offers standard, nearline, coldline, and archive storage options.
One suggestion is if you’re using Google for backups to ensure you have a secondary account attached to it in case your primary account loses access, which I’ve seen happen from time to time. They provide a migration from some tools and their pricing is based on data, so it’s free up to 10GB. They created a billing calculator for easy cost analysis once you get into the paid side.
AWS states that they support more compliance certifications and security measures than all other cloud providers. They allow for backup of all data types and have redundancy built in that you would expect at the Amazon level.
Like Google they have a calculator to estimate a pricing model for your team as they have a lot of other services integrated into this that you can take advantage of there.
Snowflake provides a data cloud and isn’t Google or Amazon, which may appeal to some. It supports data science, data lakes, and data warehousing on the three top clouds with their fully automated solution.
They’re HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOC 1 and SOC 2 Type 2 compliant, and FedRAMP Authorized and have a 30 day free trial with all plans you can check out as well as a “pay for usage” option or a “pay for usage upfront” option too.
Recap and recommendations
On July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will stop tracking any new data, and then by EOY 2023 all UA data will be removed by Google — so back up your data! Think about warehousing your data long term for your Universal Analytics and moving forward.
Then, make a plan for how you’re going to be tracking moving forward. Talk options and thoughts with stakeholders.
Install GA4 now (or yesterday!) or try the options above out, as none of these are created equal and many have free trials.