As the global culture continues its rapid transition to the digital space the importance of marketing in this digital space grows even more rapidly as a function of the opportunity created. While much of the marketing applied in the digital space is different from traditional marketing, what remains the same is the essentiality of analysis of marketing strategies. In the digital space, this analysis is being delivered more comprehensively than ever before and in real time via various Web Analytics offerings. Web Analytics are automated services that can be set to automatically retrieve, process and format data on customer interaction with a company or brand’s various digital presences.
James McCormick differentiates and positions the various competitors in the Web Analytics market in his Q2 2014 publishing of “The Forrester Wave.” McCormick chose to evaluate Adobe, AT Internet, Google, IBM, SAS Institute and Webtrends based on each of the competitor’s significant base of enterprise clients, status as a healthy and sizable business and their investment in the future success of the product. Of these six providers of Web Analytics, Adobe, AT Internet, IBM and Webtrends are classified as “Leaders” while Google is a “Strong Performer” and the SAS Institute is a “Competitor.” These designations were made based on an evaluation matrix that weighted ratings of different competencies such as data handling, support and integration.
What interests me about this report is the relatively low ranking of Google Analytics as it seems to serve as the poster child for Web Analytics. I would attribute this the McCormick’s matrix giving a weight of 0% to cost and not including usability or customization, all of which Google trounces the competition in. Also, I believe that McCormick is too focussed on the function of these tools to large enterprise clients. In many ways the digital space is the great equalizer, where it can be just as easy to find, engage with and purchase from companies and brands of all sizes. This insight further elevates the status of Google Analytics as their platform is entirely scalable to any size of business.
This is leading us to the question, “Why Google Analytics?”
On the home page of Google Analytics, Google will happily answer this question for you, explaining how their product will help you find the right customers, sell to them and then learn to do these two things even better through insights delivered by Google Analytics. After going through Google’s Digital Analytics Fundamentals course it seems to me that Google can certainly deliver on this to almost any user. Not only can Google Analytics provide a full range of analytics to to aid you in evaluating how customers find and use your websites and mobile apps, but you can choose how this data is delivered. For example, the default setting is to give the value of the sale to the action from which the purchase was made, the macro action. However, you can choose to allocate value to the various micro actions that may have lead to this macro action.
Usability is expected from Google but I was truly blown away by how easy Google Analytics is to navigate. During the fundamentals course, Google has you build a practice account. Throughout the process this account is used to set filters, form reports and many other functions. The instruction to execute these tasks are rarely more than two sentences long, which to me seemed to be not nearly enough for the layman. I was wrong. After being guided to the first step, the rest of the process is quick and intuitive. So “Why Google Analytics?” Scalability, accessibility, cost, customization and ease of use.
John Paul Mains sees yet one more reason to use Google Analytics: Tracking. Mains begins a November 2014 blogpost by explaining as new as the digital analytics industry is, simple possession of unique analytics tools is no longer enough. Rather, it must be about customer engagement. It’s not the page views that count, but what is actually done on the page. This can be monitored through the process of Event Tracking. Mains explains that while this is available through Google Analytics, very few companies use it despite the short and simple amount of coding necessary. Mains reiterates the ease of use and customization that Google possess by recommending it for Event Tracking to all users except the most advanced, to whom he recommends Heap or Mixpanel (not one of McCormick’s “Leaders”).