We covered the basics of analytics in Data Driven Decisions: how to use analytics effectively but putting that information into practice requires a set of tools. No matter the size of your business, there’s a wide range of services that can help you gather, track, and visualize data. With the wealth of analytics applications online—where to start? We’ve highlighted some of the best free tools available.
Easily the most widely used and recommended tool, Google Analytics is an incredibly robust service that tracks and reports website data. It generates detailed statistics about site visitors—from where they come from to how often they visit—and has a whole host of smart features to help you meet your goals. Additionally, there are a lot of options for customization—you can set up and track your business goals, add additional websites, and choose from a large selection of different reports. The interface is packed with information and features but don’t let that deter you. Since the service has been around for over a decade, there are numerous guides, tips, and tricks to get you started.
Google Analytics has two tiers. The free basic service is all most businesses would need and the premium version, Analytics 360, starts at $150,000 a year.
A relatively new and all-inclusive service, Hotjar is rapidly gaining popularity for their innovative features. Providing a host of services lacking in other services, Hotjar offers session recordings, funnels, forms, polls, and surveys. They also offer great user research tools, including a recruitment feature for your own visitors. One of the biggest draws for Hotjar are their desktop, tablet, and mobile heatmaps—a tool that tells you where visitors are spending most of their time on your website.
Hotjar has three pricing tiers. The basic free version is best for small businesses only. It has limited data storage and a small sample size, capping data collection at a certain number of page views. The pro and business versions are for sites with medium-to-high amounts of traffic, at $29 and $89 per month respectively.
Clicky is a standard web analytics application that logs and reports data like pageviews, clicks, downloads, event alerts, bounce rate, and more. What Clicky offers that most other services do not is real-time, live statistics. You can even watch visitors’ actions as they happen. The free basic plan allows for up to 3,000 daily page views and includes all the standard tracking and reporting features. From there, plans range from $10-20 per month depending on traffic and extra features. Clicky also has custom plan options.
mixpanel offers users the ability to event-specific data on mobile and web pages. this service focuses on engagement metrics and allows you to measure the actions your visitors take, quickly and easily. this service is one of the few analytics tools that is both completely free and offers customer behavior tracking.
QuickSprout tracks traffic data from organic search, weekly page views, referral sites, and social media. It also has features supporting SEO and website speed analysis, as well as recommendations for improvement. This service is a great, completely free add-on to any basic analytics tool.
The analytics service for analytics tools. Quill Engage analyzes Google Analytics data and delivers insights on your site’s key performance indicators. The app bills itself as a reporting service in plain English—forgoing charts and graphs to give you clear, simple information. The app connects directly to your Google Analytics account, providing seamless integration. Quill Engage free includes one report delivered weekly and monthly. The basic and premium plans, $19.99 and $49.99 respectively, increase the number of reports you can generate and offer additional features.
While not a data tracking application, it provides incredibly easy-to-use data visualization services. The cloud-based app lets users create custom dashboards from multiple data sources via cloud-based integration and uploading spreadsheets. It has a responsive, drag-and-drop interface that lets you easily analyze and present data. The site has a free plan, as well as premium plans starting at $59 per month.
If you’re looking for an open-source, self-hosted alternative to online analytics tools, Piwik is the software for you. This service is completely customizable and has many of the same features as Google Analytics. You can track as many sites as you want, get real-time stats, and customizable dashboards for each. Because it’s an open-source software, there’s a wealth of support options, including peer-to-peer help forums, Piwik’s multi-tiered support team, and thorough documentation. Piwik is free to download and use. You can pay extra to have it hosted by Piwik starting at $50 per month.
Now that we’ve covered the basics and some of the best free analytics tools available, next we’ll explore reporting metrics, key performance indicators, and measuring ROI.