1/21/2021

Ditching Google Analytics for Good

Do you really need all that data? That's what I asked myself setting up the website tracking for a new project. So I got rid of Google Analytics for the users that are on the site.

When I published our job board Conversion Mate for the first time, I naturally wanted to know how many visitors we would get on the site. Maybe even how they would navigate. And what works and what doesn't. So, of course, I fired up a Google Analytics property. After all, to make any decisions, you need to have the data and insights, right?

On the other hand, I feel something big and significant is missing in online marketing these days. We need to talk more about marketing ethics and how we are treating our users' and customers' data.

Now I'm not hating on anyone who wants to use Google Analytics. Every business needs to decide for themself what kind of insights they need and what is best for their business.

But I think it is fair to say that most Google Analytics properties are used to answer basic questions:

  • Where do my visitors come from?
  • How long are they on the site?
  • What are they most interested in?

Besides that, most everyday marketers just need to get some fancy colored pictures for their bosses anyway. "We have 2% more users than last month!" And that translates to what exactly?

This leaves the question:

At what cost are we getting this information.

We all know that Google and other big tech giants are not too concerned about data privacy. We accept the collateral for our own benefit. And this feels off.

Opting out to have someone opt-in

That's why I decided to ditch GA for my personal projects. Meaning this blog and Conversion Mate. I don't want my personal brand or the Conversion Mate brand associated with the way Google treats the user's data.

I'm not saying: Don't measure your website stats. But there are other ways to go about this than a free product.

Don't pretend there aren't any alternatives

One of the things that bothered me about Google Analytics besides the ethical question is the cookie consent jazz that comes with it. I found a fantastic cookie banner product in metomic (by the time writing this banner is unfortunately suspended from the developer), but it made page load times a nightmare. Like many of them do as they take up a lot of resources by using javascript.

Lightweight, non-cookie analytics

I used Fathom Analytics, but other products like PlausibleSimple Analytics, or Microanalytics or also interesting. These don't use any cookies and don't collect any personal data. They don't contain as many metrics, but user visits with an adblocker are still counted. And since the user doesn't need to opt-in (unless you want to be fair and transparent), you might see more than with a cookie-based tool like Google Analytics.

Open source and still juicy

If you need some more power and insights, give Matomo a spin. It's open-source and can be installed on-premises, so you own the data you're collecting. They even have good e-commerce and event tracking capabilities.

Use what you already have

It's not a secret that I'm a big believer in the inbound methodology. Partly because I think it is so much more ethical to give your audience valuable information before you ask for anything in return.

That's why I work for a HubSpot partner agency. And with products like HubSpotPardot, or Marketo, you get many analytics and reporting capabilities out of the box. Now, if these companies are any different from Google is a different topic. Maybe they are

But you decided on an all in one solution for a reason. So keep it all in one and don't funnel your user's information to someplace else if you don't have it.

What user data is worth

I know, Google Analytics is free. And I'm no saint either. I still use Google Products like Workspace and probably the Tag Manager, too. But we need to start somewhere. And if you can't spend a couple of bucks a month for some analytics software, you're not valuing your user's privacy.

So maybe give Fathom a try. You even get $10 off when you click this link.

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