Imagine you want to visit a restaurant on the other side of town. Even if you are in a part of the city that you haven’t visited yet, you can understand the location by the map. Getting there should be pretty easy with some trial and error or even asking for information. Nothing else.
Now imagine that when you leave the house, you are blindfolded, spin around a few times, and then head out to find the restaurant. You’re groping blindly through the streets trying to reach your destination, never knowing if you’re heading in the right direction. It is important to remember that the speed of your website and your hosting company influence your visitors and also your data.
It’s even possible that you’ll get there after all, but it certainly wouldn’t be an easy task without you using your eyes.
Why Analytics is Essential
A website without proper analytics is like running with a blindfold on. It doesn’t matter what your goal or destination is, whether it’s selling more products, attracting more readers, increasing subscriptions, or anything else that can tell you if you’re really getting there. It’s what allows you to take off the blindfold and see if you’re really on the right street.
Analysis tools provide feedback on your site’s performance. It not only tells you how many visitors your site attracts on a monthly basis, but also where the visitors are coming from, what they are interested in, and how they behave. This information is important to the success of your WordPress site because it allows you to do the following:
- Plan your marketing and content strategy
- Do Search Engine Optimization
- Optimize website design
- Provide data for content
- Content and Interest Trends
- Validate assumptions (especially if combined with A/B testing)
- Helps improve user experience
- Many other options depending on your need
This kind of feedback is so important that it’s no wonder there are many people who obsessively check their traffic, bounce rate, and other site statistics. It’s also the reason why there are a wide variety of tools available to cover all your website analytics needs. While Google Analytics is probably the best known of the bunch, it’s not the only one or even necessarily the best.
The web analytics field is divided into two basic fields. On the one hand, there are the proponents of quantitative analysis, who take a numbers-based approach. Like pages by views, unique visits, etc. On the other hand, there are advocates who stress the importance of qualitative data and who like to take a closer look at visitor behavior.
Quantitative Web Analytics for WordPress
Google Analytics The main reason for using Google Analytics would be because it is free and offers a wide range of features. Others use the tool because most sites optimize SEO with Google insight, so it makes sense to use its tools.
There are plenty of options available to perform an in-depth analysis of your website. You not only learn about visitors in general, but you also get data about unique views, visitor behavior, time spent on your site, bounce rate, and more. The service also comes with content experiments for A/B testing.
The downside is that Google Analytics is not that accessible. To view your data, you have to go to an external website. Also, the service’s interface is not as easy to navigate, especially when there are design changes or when components are renamed (such as renaming “Google Website Optimizer” to “Content Experiences”).
- Visitor data
- Real-time analytics
- Content analysis
- Tracking conversions and goals
- Analytics for advertising if integrated with Google AdWords
Jetpack is a popular plugin made by WordPress.com makers and contains a wide range of tools one of them is analytics for WordPress websites. The plugin provides statistics about your visitors without putting extra strain on your server in times when loading speed is part of SEO. This is good news.
Since Jetpack is part of the WordPress dashboard, there is no need to visit another site. You get an overview of your daily visitor numbers right on the welcome screen and in the WordPress admin panel. Accessing the details reveals high-performing posts and pages, referrers, search engine terms, and clicks on external links. What is missing, however, is the number of visitors.
While Jetpack does not offer the possibility of in-depth analysis like other services, it is a great tool for day-to-day monitoring. It shows real-time analytics to help identify the most popular content on your site, so it gives you a good momentary view of your site. Using it to keep track of multiple sites, however, is a hassle as it requires you to log in to each of them separately.
- Web analytics without server overload
- Viewing daily visits
- Content performance, referrals, and click links
- Monthly, Weekly, and Yearly Traffic Summaries with Comparison
Clicky is another analytics tool suitable for WordPress. It features real-time data, tracking of individual visitors, and can be extended with premium features. Similar to Google Analytics, Clicky requires a tracking code for it to work. Fortunately, there are plugins available such as Clicky by Yoast and Clicky Analytics which also supports WordPress Multisite.
One of the main points in Clicky’s favor is its ease of use. The interface is very simple and intuitive, especially when compared to Google’s alternative. All important data is delivered to the dashboard from where you can then drill down into the details.
All data can be conveniently viewed from mobile devices. If that’s not enough, there are also mobile apps available that make tracking even easier.
- Real-time analytics
- Individual visitor tracking
- Customizable Dashboard
- Goals and campaign tracking
- Split Test A/B
- Uptime Monitoring
Next on the list is Piwik. The remarkable thing about this solution is that it is completely open-source. Piwik web analytics has a GPL license and the version costs to host on your server are absolutely nothing. Your analytics data remains yours.
A big difference to most other services, however, is that installing Piwik is not as easy as adding a snippet of code to your website. Unless you choose Piwik Cloud, you will be required to install the software on your own server. Fortunately, it promises 5 minutes of installation, which WordPress users should be able to handle. A Piwik WordPress plugin is also available.
One of the strengths of this service is that its vendors respond to user-reported bugs quickly, and are completely transparent about fixing them. Closed bug tickets for each new version can be seen in the changelog. There is also a large community around this service, where new users can find help and support.
- Customizable dashboard (including for multiple sites)
- Goal Conversion Tracking
- Site Speed and Page Speed Analysis
- Detailed records for individual visitors
- Reports scheduled by email
Qualitative Web Analytics for WordPress
KISSmetrics is the first service on the list that doesn’t focus on page views but instead takes a behavior-based approach. This means you are less interested in how many people are on your site, and more interested in who they are and what they are doing on your site. To quote his own motto: “Google Analytics tells you what’s going on. KISSmetrics says who’s doing it.”
You can easily integrate KISSmetrics with WordPress by installing its plugin and entering your API key. Choose which events you want to track and the plugin will take care of the rest.
The great thing about this service is that it connects all your data with real people. It tracks users across browsers, devices, and time. It doesn’t matter if someone leaves your site and only comes back a year later, you’ll still know who they are and how they found you. The service also lets you follow people along sales funnels to find out where you’re losing and where to optimize things.
The big downside of KISSmetrics, Therefore, this service may be better suited for bigger companies or blogs with a big financial return.
- Unlimited number of reports
- Unlimited A/B tests
- Targeting by visitors
- In-depth reviews by visitor
- Consultations and dedicated support (professional plan)
Mixpanel is another event-based analysis tool. Some people compare very favorably with KISSmetrics because it offers similar functionality, but it’s much more affordable as it offers a free account.
Connecting WordPress with Mixpanel is not so simple, it is with other solutions because no official plugin exists in the WordPress directory. There is, however, an unofficial plugin available on Github.
The service allows you to measure what people are doing on your site and how involved they are. Mixpanel visualizes complex data and provides powerful targeting options for your website.
- Advanced targeting options
- Experiments with Funnel of Pages
- Customer Groups
- Customer Retention Reports
Another strong competitor for action gathering and behavior-based data points is Foxmetrics. It controls how visitors interact with your page, for example, when they make a purchase, view a page, click on a banner, or take any other action. At the same time, quantitative data such as page views, visits, and bounce rates are also provided in real-time.
Foxmetrics integrates a wide range of third-party applications, such as Mailchimp and SalesForce, you can track the entire customer lifecycle. From the first visit to the page, logging in, opening your email, and making a purchase, everything can be captured.
- Real-time data
- Tracking by unique visitor
- unlimited users
With an approach similar to KISSmetrics, the Woopra platform allows you to build incredibly detailed behavioral profiles of your users. It helps you quickly gather the data that is important to you and your business.
A plugin for Woopra WordPress integration is available, but due to lack of data, it is not entirely clear how it works with the latest version of WordPress.
In addition to creating a clearer profile of your visitors and their actions, Woopra lets you discover dead ends inside funnels and how to track customer retention. Data is delivered in real-time and Woopra supports automation such as weekly email reports.
- real-time analytics
- Analysis for Funnels
- Analysis retention
- Category for visitors and members
- Real-time notifications
There are several other analytics tools that can help you understand and improve the user experience. In this article, I have listed the services and their plugins most used by the most successful blogs and companies. See what data matters most to your business and start capturing the data that matters to you.
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