Whatever you do online, whether you have a website for your small business or run a larger e-commerce site, whether you run AdSense or do some affiliate marketing, you need to know what your visitors are doing. In the beginning, you may have been thrilled just to get visitors. Traffic is traffic, right? After that initial excitement wears off, though, you need to get down to business.
Where did they come from? What are they doing on your site? What do they look at? When did they decide to leave? More importantly, why did they leave? This is all important information to know if you want to improve their experience and, in turn, your bottom line. And, that’s why we’re all here, right? To improve our bottom line?
Your options are pretty simple; Google Analytics or one of the other guys. GA has been around for a while and has been the first tool that many people turn to for their traffic data. As with most things on the web, though, there are some other players that offer a lot of geeky bells and technical whistles. Let’s take a look at them, feature by feature and see what each can and can’t do for you.
Ease of Use
If you’re new to the web game, any statistical information about your site may look like a foreign language. Google Analytics was all that existed for a while, and it was thought to be sufficient. It showed your stats and told you what you wanted to know. It wasn’t pretty or particularly easy to interpret, but no one knew anything else, so they were happy with it.
Woopra and Clicky are the opposite. They are pretty. They are slick. They are easy to use and understand. They do essentially the same thing, but both are packaged in a much more attractive and user-friendly package. Even an experienced pro can become entranced by the clear-cut tabs in Woopra that allow you to quickly switch between sites. We have become a visual world and each new design tweak just makes everything easier to use, regardless of your experience level.
Once you start analyzing your traffic, you’ll learn what information you need in order to manage your goals and being able to customize your program of choice is essential. GA, Woopra and Clicky all let you customize how you group your visitors, as well as allowing for custom funnels and advanced filtering. Clicky lets you get more detailed here than you can ever imagine.
GA, of course, is the place to go to customize what is going on with your AdWords campaign. They can tell you what specific actions were taken and when. If someone put your number one product in their shopping cart and never completed the sale, you’ll know about it. Clicky can be customized to search Twitter and report back whenever your site is mentioned. Plus, Clicky also shows you not only what keywords your traffic came in on, but your ranking for those terms as well, which is very handy, because opening another tab, just to check, is a pain.
Having access to historical data is important, particularly if you operate a seasonal business. Woopra retains data for 12 months at the basic $11.95 account level and 24 months in their premium accounts. Clicky’s paid accounts retain data for “between 6 and 18 months of history for individual visitors and actions.” GA, on the other hand, maintains your all-important data for at least 24 months.
Think whatever you want about Google - love them or hate them. The fact is that they run a tight ship and it works for them. The question is, does it work for you? Clicky and Woopra don’t care what you do or how you do it, as long as you pay your bill. GA is another story. Please do not think that your traffic data is private or that you are the only one studying, analyzing and remembering it. You gave up privacy when you signed up for a free account. Maybe you don’t want Big G to know all your secrets, above board or not. Maybe you just don’t like the idea of someone – anyone - watching you. Remember, your privacy matters only to you.
If you are concerned with statistics, you need to be concerned with CTR (click-through rate) and bounce rates. You want to know how long people stay on a page before they leave. Do they stay long enough to read it? Do they pull the trigger and register, buy, click or whatever other action that you hope for? If not, perhaps you need to switch some things around in your sales text or move something else above the fold. You can’t tweak anything without knowing that bounce rate though. Of course, GA, Woopra and Clicky will all tell you; it’s pretty basic. The interesting thing to know is how they calculate that all-important bit of information. After 30 seconds, Clicky no longer counts a visitor as a bounce. Whether this works for you or not is personal. Read one of your posts. How long does it take? Could they have answered their question in that timeframe? If it seems unlikely, you may have a problem.
When your grandmother starts updating her Facebook status from her cell phone, you can pretty much bet that mobile apps are here to stay. As we all know, stats can be a bit addictive. When you need your fix, Woopra has a free iPhone app and Clicky has a paid version. Google? Not really. But there are a number of independent apps that purport to offer varying levels of access to GA data on different mobile platforms, though there seems to be relatively little adoption of any of them, as yet.
Unlike GA, which is notoriously slow for updating stats, Woopra and Clicky both have real time stats. Instant. Poof. You can watch visitors live as they move, page by page, through your site.
In fact, with Woopra, you can even poke them and ask if they would like to chat, right then and there.
These spy tools can be great, unless, like many of us, you have internet ADD and end up staring at your screen for hours watching things unfold. That would be bad. Stay focused.
Last, But Not Least … Cost
GA is free and a great starting point for newbies trying to keep their costs down. It is also the logical choice if you run AdSense or buy Adwords. Woopra and Clicky both offer free versions, but to get the full package you need to pay. Depending on the version that you choose, Clicky runs $9.95 - $29.95 monthly and Woopra, slightly more, at $11.95 to $39.95 for typical customers, up to $349.95 a month for companies with up to 15 million actions a day.
The key to tracking your analytics is finding what works for you. In fact, many people use two or even all three of these tools. They find that they like different aspects of each one and who wouldn’t? GA is great for Adsense and AdWords campaign monitoring and works well for smaller sites and businesses. Woopra's spy tools, real time stats and live chat features are rather addictive and a great addition for any e-commerce site. Clicky’s Twitter analytics and keyword rankings tools are great for the tech junkie. The choice is yours, but like a kid in a candy store, you may want them all.