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You don’t need Google Analytics

Last week I spent some time looking for a lightweight alternative to Google Analytics; a tool that would rise to the challenge of being fully GDPR-compliant and really simple. To my surprise, pretty much every tool on the market tries to be the all-in-one solution.

Over the years I’ve experienced my share of usage of various analytics and intelligence software, from GA and Hotjar, through Mixpanel and GoSquared. The tendency of the market is to keep adding features to be that all-in-one solution to every hypothetical business problem there is. Sadly, those apps fail at what seem to be the most important issue for most businesses outside Fortune 500: getting the most out the software they use.

Most businesses don’t even know how to use Google Analytics to track their progress, not to mention having the means to implement any advanced concepts to get better insight into how to improve their business. A lot of them rely on out-of-the-box solutions provided by add-ons, plugins, etc. GA is often a checkbox on a list of things to be implemented, otherwise the project is not feature-complete.

Products such as GoSquared have shifted from being just about analytics and now focus on providing CRM and customer intelligence functionality above stats, graphs, and percentages, which renders them overly expensive for a lot of potential customers who could benefit from having simpler, more focused tools. Lead generation would be a more fitting label for these type of services.

In order to help our clients better track their business metrics and act on them accordingly, we need simpler, friendlier tools. We need tools that will trade complexity in favour of thoughtfulness and ease-of-use, and enable small business owners, not enterprise customers, to benefit from better understanding of their audience’s needs.

As of now, I haven’t been able to find a suitable small-scale solution to this pressing problem. With the rise of ad-blockers and privacy awareness, existing intelligence tools face not just scrutiny from privacy watchdogs, but also missing data points, if not going out of business. Google Analytics is the most ubiquitous tool in this space and that means it’s also a big target for privacy-savvy blockers.

What we need is an elegant solution respectful of people’s privacy, capable of statistical analysis of anonymised web traffic and easy-to-use goal/conversion tracking. It would be great if it was open source and affordable, because SaaS needs to thrive without selling our data (even if anonymised) to third-parties, such as advertisers.

So far, this is only a wish list, and I’m not even sure if there’s anything in this space at the moment that would be at least partially GDPR-compliant, let alone affordable or focused on providing a great user experience to small business owners, who don’t have a dedicated team of experts on standby.

If such a solution exists, please let me know about it. A lot of my clients (as well as myself) could benefit greatly from having access to simplified insights without breaking the bank or mining the hell out of their customer’s data.