- Google Analytics set the standard for web analytics
- Google Analytics is completely free, easy to use, and is constantly being upgraded
- Types of measurement are inflexible. Only the metrics that Google finds advantageous are those which it measures
- Due to updates, Google Analytics requires constant training
Even with the free price tag, Analytics offers a premium experience that’s unique to Google’s seemingly endless success in the business intelligence (BI) space. Despite the platform’s lauded place in the market, the tool is notorious for small setbacks and an overwhelming early experience.
Analytics is easy–once you figure it out
Google Analytics is an easy browser-based tool to use once you figure out how it works. All you need to do to setup is have a Google account, place the snippet of code within your website or other medium (e.g., a mobile app), and follow the prompts.
Once Google Analytics has all of the required information, it generates a custom tracking code that you embed on your website. Some website builders and content management systems require this code to be pasted into HTML scripts or specific command panes on the back-end; WordPress has several third-party plugins available that streamline this process.
If the code is installed and working correctly, the Analytics dashboard begins to be populated with a variety of metrics. These include daily web-traffic reports, use, real-time visits, and audience identification tools. The platform has external integrations with other Google tools and services, like AdWords, and offers several APIs that can build up your custom experience.
Despite what Google Analytics is capable of as a standalone tool, it still has its setbacks. One of the most common impediments is the failure of the real-time metrics to automatically update during periods of high traffic on the website or app the tracking code is deployed on.
For example, if your campaign site is running the Analytics tracking API and your candidate suddenly has a high-traffic day on your various digital outlets, then your results could be delayed. This would require a manual refresh because the real-time metrics failed to keep up with high traffic volumes.
What also is a significant failure on Google’s part is the lack of a dedicated customer support line or email contact for the users of the free version of Analytics. You do get access to the platform’s knowledge base and Google community forums, though. Plus, there’s a healthy body of how-to guides and tutorials on the web; however, this doesn’t resolve having no customer service.
The new user UX and learning curves
New users will likely be overwhelmed with the amount of information and the capabilities of Google Analytics. This is an unavoidable fact, especially if you entrust your data tracking to newcomers to the political/advocacy marketing arena. Because there’s no getting past this, user experience (UX) for beginners will deteriorate rapidly.
Fortunately, the knowledge gap can be resolved with Google Analytics Academy courses available for beginners and experts alike.
The ‘price’ and other options
As was noted, Google Analytics is an entirely free platform to use. All you need is a Google account, and you can easily set up the tool for your personal or professional use. There’s a premium version, called Google Analytics 360, that offers full in-depth, front to back solutions for enterprise customers. Analytics 360’s pricing is determined by your company’s needs and could be relatively expensive.
The business intelligence and analytics that the platform produces are “premium-level” results. Compared to a platform like Heap or even the business intelligence features on Looker, the free version of Analytics could be a cost-effective solution to understanding key user insights for your digital media strategy.
Google is known for producing products with an impact. Analytics does that. However, in an effort to reign in the generosity, you need to keep in mind that paying for an analytics and reporting platform could be an excellent experience to receive insights that exceed Analytics’ reports.
Plus, you can’t dismiss the amount of time it will take for a new user to become well versed in using the tool. A data marketer or a developer who has experience with similar platforms might be able to “plug-in-and-play” with the Google Analytics platform at first go; however, between the overwhelming amount of information and the low new-user experience, it will take time.