Analytic Tools: Free Or Not So Free?
I love spending time in the outdoors. As a family we just got new bikes and have been enjoying riding them; however my favorite outdoor activity is hiking. I love to go out on the trail and become one with nature. On a hike you go at a pace that you can cover ground yet still enjoy what’s around you. You can smell the fresh pine trees and feel the wind on your face; it brings me much peace and relaxation. For years I have wanted a watch that has a compass built right into the watch. The one I have coveted for so long is not cheap so when I found one that had the features I wanted for a good price and one that my wife was ok with me getting I jumped at the chance and got it. Just is case you were wondering, I got a RedClover watch. It is a great watch and had all kinds of bells and whistles and of course has a compass. Now I know how to use the compass and a few other settings, however a lot of what the watch can do it beyond me at this point. If I never learned what the watch can do and how to use it then it would not matter that I paid for it. To truly get value out of the watch I need to learn about it and use it. Web Analytics is much the same. You have to figure the data out and use it.
In Web Analytics the question is whether free tools like Google Analytics is good enough or if you need to use a paid for tool to get the job done right. In trying to figure this out for myself I came across the article “The Problem With Free Analytics” published by Eric T. Peterson on the website Web Analytics DEMYSTIFIED. It gave some very useful insight into this question. Although the article is from 2007 I still feel the points are valid. The main point that I gained from the post is that free or paid analytics is not nearly as important as actually using the tool, understanding the data and having the right person for the job. Eric says “It is my firm belief, and I emphasize this on page 4, that any company using any application regardless of price can be tremendously successful in their use of web analytics. I say this because I know that success means different things to different companies. I also say this because I firmly believe that being successful with web analytics has very little to do with technology, at least for the majority of companies doing web analytics today.” I think this says it all. Use what tools you have to their fullest and put forth the effort and success will follow.
I am in total agreement with the thoughts expressed in this article and think it a great concept to use to build a successful analytics program. It is just like my new watch, if I use it then I will gain from having it. If I don’t use the watch for what is was made for then it is just another pretty watch in my collection. So don’t worry about free or paid tools until you are ready for them. The first steps are: use what you have, make sure the right person is doing the job, and put in the effort.