It's been a long time since I stopped using Google Analytics to track the activity on my websites. In its place, I went with a product called Gauges.
On its own Gauges is fine but there hasn't been any new major features for a while now. Sure I pay money for the serivce to continue but it would be nice to see something new in the way of features. It's got me questioning though whether Gauges or even web analytics is still necessary.
Do I need web analytics?
I honestly think the answer to this question is no. Well, let me expand on that answer. I don't need web analytics. I can't speak for others, but let me explain using each of my different websites as examples.
For my personal blog, web analytics is nothing more than a vanity feature. I don't need to see what people are reading on my blog, I don't need to tailor content based on what people like or searching for.
My blog is an outlet for my writing, the topics that I am interested in writing about.
Whether people read it or not is not my main concern.
I write because I want to write. I don't need web analytics here.
For my freelancing blog things get a bit trickier.
Sure it would be nice to see what people are reading and what is proving to be most popular but my freelancing blog isn't just about giving people something to read. It's about advertising my knowledge of web development.
My blog is also the first step in acquiring potential clients. If a potential client likes what I am writing about and they have a need for a web developer like myself, then what next?
At the moment they can contact me through a form but there needs to be more than just a contact form. I need to be able to contact them back on a regular basis and let them know what's changing in the world of web development. This is where an email list comes in to play.
Despite listening to podcasts and reading many newsletters telling me for years that I need an emailing list for my business, I don't have an emailing list for my business. Crazy I know.
With an email list though I can start to build a way of contacting potential clients and convert them to paying clients through a funnel of more specialised content that is only available through that email list.
Instead of using web analytics and learning nothing about my potential clients, I can use an email list to contact them directly and see what interests them in terms of clicked content within each email campaign.
My freelancing blog is the first step in acquiring a client. While it might be helpful to see which content is proving popular at this step, I don't think that it warrants having web analytics. I'd rather see metrics of what people are clicking through to in the email campaigns that I send out.
For DailyMuse, web analytics is not something that I want to measure.
Sure it's nice that people visit DailyMuse and perhaps even sign up for an account, but the key metric here is whether people use DailyMuse on a daily basis and that means measuring when people login, how many people are signing up for the paid plan and how many people are receiving emails per day or week.
I've already got a minimal dashboard for this cobbled together from user data in DailyMuse, so again, web analytics isn't necessary here.
There are also other plugins and solutions that offer user analytics for products like DailyMuse. This is more interesting because I get to see what user's are doing in my product. I'm not at that level yet and so what I have at the moment will suffice for the time being.
Do I need web analytics then?
So perhaps I don't need web analytics then.
Others might make the case that regardless of the type of website I am running, web analytics is better to have than not at all, but I think I can live without it.
I've justified in each case why I don't need web analytics and what I would use instead. I think in each case it's fair to say that I have alternatives in place that work for me and my own needs.
Web analytics isn't dead then, but I think it has been superseded by other analytic products that offer customers more. It's probably good to have in place if the content of your website is the only way of measuring activity on your website, but even then I would recommend that such a website have an email list as well.
I've used web analytics for a number of years but I think I've used it for so long that I've become complacent with it. It's not the type of activity I need to be looking at. I need to be looking at different forms of activity for different sites and that perhaps is the most important lesson in all this.
There's also the fact that Twitter already offers a sizeable amount of analytics that makes social media interaction much easier to see. If you share your website's content on Twitter, then it's worth looking at your account's analytics dashboard on to see the traffic through your account's recent tweets.
For me though, I'm going to stop using web analytics over the course of this week and instead focus on getting my analytics from elsewhere.