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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Rely Only On Google Analytics

Everyone loves Google Analytics for two obvious reasons:

  1. It's free.
  2. It's easy.

What could be better, right? Add in the fact that it does a pretty darn good job collecting data, and it seems like the perfect tool for every website. Just sign up, throw the code on your website, and rest easy while the data flows in.

Not so fast. While Google Analytics is great, relying on it as your only data source is like playing with virtual fire. Here are five reasons you should be using more than just Google Analytics:

1. Unexplained Data Outages

While it's rare, there have been reports of Google Analytics zeroing out data. If Google Analytics is your only analytics tool, you might find yourself missing an entire day's worth of data (or worse). While that may not seem significant, it could really throw a wrench in your numbers as you try to determine the value of a particular campaign. If you have another analytics tool on your site, you'll be a lot less likely to run into a day without data.

2. Reassurance and Quality Control

Are you positive that Google Analytics is collecting everything? How can you be sure if you have no point of comparison? Having a second analytics tool (such as Adobe Analytics) allows you to compare data. If you notice a major discrepancy between the two, then there might be a bigger issue at play. Maybe your setup is wrong. Maybe your goals are incorrectly configured. Maybe a script on your site is blocking one of your analytics tools. Maybe there's another problem you never would have caught with only one tool.

3. The Untrackables

People are getting savvier with their computer usage these days, and some of them don't want you to track their visits to your site. With plugins like Ghostery, a user can easily hide from your data. Having multiple analytics tools improves the likelihood that you'll catch them in the act. Sure, they can block multiple tools, but having more makes it harder for them.

4.  The Times They Are A Changin'

Analytics tools don't stay the same forever. Google always seems to be looking for ways to improve things—or at least change them. When major updates occur, data sometimes gets lost or distorted. In 2011, for example, Google changed how its flagship analytics tool tracks sessions. This led to all kinds of "unexpected" issues. As Google continues to push Universal Analytics, there will surely come a day when Universal is the only way to go. During this changeover, there may be more unforeseen issues. And then there will come another day when Universal is outdated. Having more than one analytics tool leaves you less susceptible to these changes.

5. You Get What You Pay For

There's one obvious reason why Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool on the web: it's free (and the fact that it's powered by the world's most dominant search engine might help a little). But does that mean it's the best? There are other analytics tools that are much more powerful. Adobe Analytics, for example, gives you better reporting and more tracking capabilities. The price tag may be a little higher, but you do in fact get what you pay for.

Conclusion

Having multiple analytics tools gives you more power and more control over your data. Unless you like putting all your eggs blindly in one basket, you should strongly consider adding a second tool to your site.

One word of caution: there will be some discrepancies in the data from the different tools. Don't obsess over every difference. Treat one of the tools as your primary one and the other as a backup. If you're constantly comparing the two, you might end up wasting all your time chasing insignificant mysteries.

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