Face it: Website analytics can be a pain. There are so many different analytics tools that claim to provide a clear view of your marketing campaigns and website activity, but all those product choices just make the field seem more complicated.
How can you just choose one? Often, digital marketers see options like Google Analytics and they ask, "Why would I use that if my marketing automation platform—HubSpot, Pardot, Eloqua, Marketo, etc.—has analytics included? Why not just stick with the tool I'm paying for?"
The truth is, there are benefits of using both Google Analytics and a marketing automation platform. In this article, I'll review the differences between the reporting capabilities of Google Analytics and tools similar to HubSpot, what the value to each is, and overall: why you need both.
Anonymous Data Basics
The powerhouse that is Google created Google Analytics to analyze and document website traffic. The various screen views and reports track data on the performance of desktop and mobile sites, apps, blogs, and shops. Google Analytics also has the ability to track some personal information data such as:
- operating system
- browser, add ons
- display resolution
- source (search engine, social media, ect.)
- history of page views
- time spent/bounce rates
- video clicks
- banner clicks
Since IP addresses remain encoded, Google creates a user ID for every user, however the tool can’t provide information about individual users. This anonymous data becomes part of totaled analysis parameters. That's why user engagement has a limited value when companies are looking to optimize individual sales approaches. With no way to separate and segment data sets into individual customers it can be hard to accurately determine the lost sales and opportunities as a reflection of a potential client's navigation through your website.
However, this anonymous data can be very helpful in providing insight about website visitors and their behavior. With metrics like bounce rate analysis you are able to determine which parts of your site are sticky and which are duds. You can also use the flow visualization reports to follow a user's path through your site. This graphic allows you to see where users entered, exited, and engaged with your site and content. Dropoff points and unexpected loops aid in troubleshooting content and general site navigation paths.
Google Analytics contributes good insight on users that are researching demand-related information without giving up any of their contact information because you can see in real time where visitors are interacting with your website. Other main benefits include benchmarking reports, ecommerce reporting, API tracking, and overall website activity metrics.
Helping Data Connect With an Identity
Marketing automation solutions are able to track users' online buyer behaviors anonymously as well. But where the paths of the data differ is in what additional insight can be extracted. There are two important differences:
- Anonymous users can be assigned to a company name that is associated with the IP address (if available)
- Upon a contact's first conversion, the software is then able to track through a user profile
These distinctions are what help to apply qualitative data to all those anonymous visitors, which in turn attributes to better lead generation and sales follow up. With every website visit the software is able to add more information into the user record and gauge where they are in the buying process. It helps to further segment campaigns into nurturing workflows. This ensures that messages are going out to the right contacts at the right time rather than a one-fits-all approach.
Both Google Analytics and marketing automation software supply businesses with valuable information regarding online behavior of visitors to verify digital marketing strategies. They were developed with the same goal in mind of being able to analyze and improve website activity and engagement though the emphasis of each is different. Marketing automation focuses on workflows to strengthen communication between marketing and sales while Google Analytics was developed primarily to analyze web traffic. Both verify the effectiveness of online activity in different ways and when utilized together are extremely powerful. Determine which areas of your site are important to track based on your business goals and see where each platform can contribute insight.