by Ryan Evans
Jun 13 '16

Why most web analytics tools suck


In my marketing agency days, I always wanted to get a feel for where new clients were at with their marketing efforts. The dialogue would go a little something like this..

Me: Well we’re super excited to get to work sending customers your way to make you rich. But before we go there, let’s see where we’re at. Do guys use any analytics software?

New client: (proudly) Oh yeah, our developer put Google Analytics on our site when we redesigned it.

Me: Great, so what’s working for you?

New client: Well let’s see…we use Google Adwords, we’ve tried Facebook a couple of times and I send out our email newsletter once a month. Oh and my cousin’s daughter does our Twitter and Facebook. Well I think she does. She went back to college and I think she’s still posting, but I’m not sure.

Me: Cool. So working for you?

New client: Well we get about 7,000 visits a month.

Me: Congratulations. But what I mean is are you getting more customers from Facebook or Adwords? Or does your newsletter drive most of your business?

New client: Uhhhhhh..I’m not sure.

This happened almost every single time. Most people have a general idea of how many visits their site gets every month, and some could tell me what drove traffic to their site but almost no one could tell me exactly how well their marketing tactics did at driving customers.

Having something in place to track what is working should be the foundation of any marketing effort. And, yet, so few people have this in place. Why? Well the answer is actually pretty simple: most web analytics tools really suck.

But why do these tools suck? Let’s take a look.

Difficult to set up

Many analytics tools require a developer plus someone with a fair bit of marketing or analytics experience to even get started. Sure, putting Google analytics on your site is pretty easy. But getting Google to track which activities actually sent you customers, is a lot harder. And if you want to start looking at that data in a way to actually do something with it, you’re probably going to need a developer, an analytics consultant and a witch doctor. If you’re a smaller company, or just a company that’s trying to get your arms around marketing that’s not so easy to do.

Too many metrics

I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes too many metrics is a bad thing. Analytics tools tend to jam as many metrics as they can fit into their tool to make the dashboard look sexy. But most of those metrics don’t actually matter. If you’re a smaller company, you don’t need 300 metrics that don’t matter. You need 3 metrics that do matter.

Aren’t tied to human beings

One thing I’ve always hated about Google Analytics is that you can’t actually see who the conversion is. Seeing exactly who is coming as a result of your marketing is pretty important. One customer (or group of customers) who spends $5k with you is more important that 100 customers that spend $5.

Stuck in time

If you are tracking conversions, you usually have to set a predefined “goal” or “event”. Not only is this a pain to implement every time you want to track some new effort, it also means that if you forget about a particular landing page you can’t go back and analyze that data.

Ignore how customers usually buy

The default assumption of many analytics tools is that people become customers like this:

  1. Click ad
  2. Land on a page
  3. Buy something

But that rarely happens. People tend to buy like this:

  1. Click ad
  2. Land on page
  3. Read blog
  4. Sign up for newsletter
  5. Leave
  6. Click a link in the newsletter
  7. Visit pricing page
  8. Visit about us page
  9. Leave
  10. Click on retargeting ad
  11. Visit features page
  12. Leave
  13. Click on a link in a tweet
  14. Read blog post
  15. Customer Google brand name
  16. Buy something

In this example, most analytics tools will show you that Google is solely responsible for the customer. Which will lead you to the false conclusion that none of your other tactics are working at all. But, in a case like this, Google actually deserves very little credit.

So how do we make analytics usable?

1. Easy 2 minute setup

If you can copy and paste, you can install Tend. It takes two minutes – if you’re slow. Once you add a bit of javascript Tend will start collecting all ads, pages and conversions.

2. Simple, actionable information

We keep our interface and reports very simple and intuitive and we focus only on metrics that allow you to take action.

3. See how actual people buy

You can tie all off your data back to individual customers or groups of customers. You can actually see a specific customer’s face, bio, social media links and their full history from how they first came to your site to the pages they saw before buying. You can also look at data for groups of people. You can see what’s driving your most profitable customers or see what’s most effective in driving newsletter sign ups.

4. Go back in time

Since you don’t have to set up goals or events, you can look at all of your data retroactively. If you want to look at what’s causing people to sign up for your email newsletter or you want to look at people who signed up for a specific plan, you can do that at any time.

5. Apples to apples comparison of marketing efforts

We’ll show you what tactics are working and to what extent they are working. When you are doing more than one thing to get people to your site, it’s important to know not just that something is working but also how well is it working compared to other things. We give you an apples to apples comparison of how each ad, website or blog post is performing. That allows you to make informed decisions on how to best allocate your time and money.

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