Why free web analytics tools aren’t free

There isn’t a lack of tools currently out on the market to measure the performance of your online properties.  Some of these tools are “free,” such as Google and Yahoo Analytics and there are a variety of excellent nearly free tools such as ClickTale, CrazyEgg, Woopra, Flurry (for mobile apps), and 4Q (for surveys).  Others, such as Adobe’s Omniture or Webtrends are priced based on volume.



A research study put out by the respected Aberdeen Group has examined the value of these paid solutions, and concluded that paid solutions such as Omniture are not only worth it, but may in fact be cheaper than the “free” tools when all factors are considered.



While there are tremendous benefits to using these tools, the trick is to get the right tool for the job and to put it in the hands of those who will take action once they gain insights.



Hidden Costs of Free Tools like Google Analytics



Starting from the beginning, it is important to first address why it is that “free” tools such as Google Analytics are not really free. The data from your site using that tool is also reported to Google.  Google can then use this data to better rank your site, HOWEVER, by better rank you we don’t mean they will actually give you better rankings, we mean they will have a better idea of just how good your site really is with consumers which could help you, or more often than not, it could hurt you in rankings and PPC bid costs as well.  Google survives because of its ability to serve up relevant content to its users, and if you let the giant know that you have, for example, a high bounce rate – Google may raise the average cost per click and lower SEO rankings to provide a better experience for their users.



Limited support and training make it difficult to optimize free tools but partners can help



Secondly, the data provided by these free tools has limited support or training associated with it which can lead to challenges in performing a quality implementation of the tool and more importantly, gaining consumer insights and actionable intelligence thereafter.  Many companies hire a web analytics consultant to better implement and maintain their tools, and Lima Consulting Group can help in this regard since we are focused on helping organizations measure effective digital initiatives.



 



Google Analytics is built for Google



Google built Google Analytics for Google.  (They acquired Urchin in 2004).  Make no mistake about it.  Integrating Google Analytics with conversion optimization tools and recommendation engines is not an easy task. And Google Analytics cannot track what’s happening on mobile applications from the iTunes store when a user downloads an app and consumes the content within it without being online.  Omniture has a setting for that.  You cannot get access to the data within Google anlaytics directly, you have to download it as an .cvs file.  In Omniture, you can not only get access to the DataWarehouse, but you can use the inteface to integrate additional information from the enterprise such as CRM data, call center data, kiosk information or point of sale data into the datawarehouse so that you can conduct analysis overlaying a more complete picture of how users are engaging with your brand both online and offline.



How Do Omniture Customers Compare their Digital Marketing Results compared to Google Analytics Users?





As for paid solutions, the leading analytics platforms is Adobe’s Omniture which operates on a  Software as a Service (SaaS) model, wherein users pay fees concurrent with their usage of the tool (in Omniture’s case, its page views).



Since these kinds of tools have a upfront cost associated with them, many times marketing executives make the mistake of disregarding them in favor of the more subtly costly “free” tool.  And they view these investments as technology projects which have a beginning and an end instead of embedding data driven processes into the business processes on an on-going basis.



Omniture users were bringing in 59% more leads through marketing efforts, and 39% more of them converted than the average.




The Aberdeen study interviewed 453 different business using analytics tools, 30 of which had implemented Omniture.  In Figure 1 you can see that Omniture users were bringing in 59% more leads through marketing efforts, and 39% more of them converted than the average.

Omniture users averaged a 10% year-over-year revenue increase compared to an average of 3%.



In the end, paid analytics solutions trump the free tools on two fronts.  First of all, their cost includes training and support – never leaving businesses alone in a sea of useless data.  They come with the help necessary for companies to be able to wield their data in a profitable manner.



Omniture users were 46% more likely to achieve Best-In-Class results than average




Secondly, when you factor in all the hidden costs with free analytics and combine that with the fact that Omniture users were 46% more likely to achieve Best-In-Class results than average (thus higher revenues) – many begin to quickly find that maybe paying a bit is more than worth it.



“…users of free analytics solutions struggle to derive the same level of business value from their platforms compared to those companies that partner with paid providers. In fact, 21% of companies leveraging a free solution indicated they were unsatisfied with the amount of actionable data they received, compared to only 5% who indicated they were extremely satisfied. On the contrary, 15% of Omniture technology customers participating in that Web Analytics study indicated they were unsatisfied with the amount of actionable data they received, compared to 52% who indicated they were satisfied.”



 



To access the full research report for free visit:  http://www.omniture.com/go/36876



 

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