If you’re like most growing companies, Google Analytics is probably part of your tech stack. But as your data needs become more sophisticated, the limitations of Google Analytics (or GA, for short) become increasingly apparent. To truly understand how people find and use your product, you’ll need an easy-to-implement GA alternative that offers deeper, real-time product analytics and comprehensive insights.
The strengths of Google Analytics lie in tracking activities related to acquisition. GA provides granular data on the way visitors find your website and where they come from. For companies that want more enterprise-appropriate features like an SLA, fewer data limitations, and improved reporting and customization, there’s an option to upgrade to Google Analytics 360.
There are many Google Analytics alternatives to consider, and we’ve put together a list of good ones to explore. Before we dive in, let’s look at some of the shortcomings of GA.
Shortcomings of Google Analytics
Where Google Analytics falls short:
- Focuses on acquisition rather than activation and retention
- Extremely limited segmentation capabilities
- Can’t track conversion data out of the box
- Requires customization with Google Tag Manager to track events
- Doesn’t track user-specific behavioral metrics
Setting up GA beyond the limited default settings requires deep knowledge of the tool, and getting meaningful insights requires a great deal of customization. While it’s possible out of the box to set up a few predefined conversion goals based on URL visits and time on site, you’ll have to use Google Tag Manager (more on that later) to track behaviors like clicks, form submissions, or video plays. If you set up your tracking incorrectly or want to later change the way you name an event, you’ll have to track new data for that event – and this new data won’t be consistent with your historical data.
Even if your setup is perfect, the data you’ll receive will mostly be around traffic acquisition, pageviews, bounce rate, and paid campaign metrics. If you want behavioral or product-related metrics, or data on how people act further down the funnel, you’re out of luck.
Another shortcoming is that GA makes it difficult to track customer data at the individual user level. Because its terms of service prohibit customers from storing personally identifiable information (PII), it takes significant work to get GA to combine user identities across platform, channel, and device. If a user visits your site from different platforms and devices, GA tends to see these as different visitors. This is a significant limitation that makes it hard to understand the impact of device and platform on your site traffic.
GA does have a feature called User ID to address this issue, but User ID only works when you can assign a unique ID in your system for each user. If your users don’t have to log in to use your site or product, you can’t do this.
GA’s lack of support also makes it easy to run up against roadblocks like this that stop you from putting your data to use. In general, troubleshooting GA involves scouring forums and documentation to find a potential solution.
The big problem with Google Analytics: incomplete data
Assuming you’ve been able to set up a decent tagging system, are using custom goals for conversion tracking, and didn’t make any mistakes during setup, you’re still up against a significant obstacle: the lack of reliable, exact data. Google Analytics is built to supply aggregate data, showing you trends rather than providing detailed insights about individual users. With GA, you can’t track a specific user’s path or understand how one event might lead to another as the user navigates your product.
Finally, GA’s limited dashboarding capabilities make it difficult to display the data you need. If you want to examine traffic over a longer time frame, the GA interface can’t pull the data together. For high traffic sites, if you aren’t using GA 360, you have to pull your data one day at a time and then munge it back together to achieve the view you need. This is tedious, unnecessary work, and tends to produce inaccurate results.
To help you avoid these issues, we’ve chosen nine alternatives to Google Analytics to help you figure out which tool is right for your stack.
#1 – Heap
Heap is an analytics platform that helps you understand how and why customers engage with your product or site. With product analytics that track behavior in your website and your apps, the platform gives you detailed information about your users that goes well beyond Google Analytics’ session and pageview metrics.
- Powerful product analytics
- Autocapture for all event data
- Heap Connect to automatically bring data into your data warehouse
- Optimize conversions across channels and platforms
- Drive engagement in your product and website
- Better tailor the in-app experience
- Improve retention at all stages
Tracking user and customer behavior is where Heap shines. Unlike GA, where you have to set up and maintain many triggers and tag combinations to track user events, Heap automatically captures all activity from the start. There’s no need to organize tags, ask engineering to add new tags, or clean up your older tags. Any time you have a question, you can access your historical data and find an answer. Unlike Google Tag Manager, Heap’s event layer directly integrates with iOS and Android native apps. Heap can also pull in data from over 20 third-party integrations, including Shopify, Salesforce, and more.
For product, marketing, and customer support teams, Heap’s approach is game-changing. You get all the data you need without needing engineering to create new tags, change tracking codes, or build reports. Heap’s flexible, self-serve capabilities make it a critical tool for companies that need to deliver a compelling online experience.
As far as reporting goes, Heap offers far more than GA. Heap lets you report on user and event properties, get granular insights into where users experience friction, and answer questions without having to go back and revisit your tracking plan. Heap’s simple setup and ability to scale makes it the best choice for companies that need enterprise-grade analytics at any size.
Final word: Heap’s flexibility in tracking the entire user journey, its ease of use, and its ability to autocapture all user data creates the perfect option for companies looking to understand their users without getting bogged down by manual setup and maintenance.
#2 – Matomo
If you’re concerned about security or you’d rather just host on prem, Matomo is a good option that will give you more or less the same functionality as GA. The open source project allows you 100% data ownership and user privacy protection at a nominal monthly fee (19EUR), but that pricing tier doesn’t include several key features that GA does for free, like heatmaps, session recording, or paid analytics tracking. Nor does it include key features like A/B testing and multi-channel attribution that GA also lacks.
- Web analytics
- Conversion optimization
- Visitor profiles
- Tag manager
- Deploy an on-prem web analytics solution
- Analyze content interactions
- View media analytics
Implementation can be easy if you don’t do on-prem, and a bit more time consuming if you do. Security and control are the selling points here, and it’s well-liked by customers, so it’s a great alternative to Google Analytics for the right company.
Final word: For companies that want ultimate control and ownership of data and features about on par with GA (but not much more), Matomo might be the best bet.
#3 – StatCounter
StatCounter is an affordable alternative to GA that adds alerts, fraud detection, and user information tagging to its offering of comparable GA features. Pricing starts at free and moves on a sliding scale based on your monthly pageviews.
- Web analytics
- Summary statistics
- Visitor alerts
- Data filters
- Data export
- Analyze your traffic trends over time
- Sync Google keyword data
- Tag visitors with identity information
- Detect click fraud
Even in the free version, StatCounter offers email support. This alone may be enough to sway you if you’re frustrated with GA implementation and maintenance.
Final word: For a close-to-free GA alternative that boasts proactive reporting features and offers better support, check out StatCounter.
#4 – Amplitude
Amplitude is a user-focused solution that aims to pinpoint valuable behavioral patterns. It allows you to look beyond the acquisition and paid analytics that GA offers and dig into mobile and app analytics. While it does offer a free version, the jump to the next pricing level is significant. Because Amplitude requires manual tagging, it also requires significant administrative and engineering resources to collect the data you need.
- Behavioral analytics
- First-party behavioral data
- Customizable data structure
- Product strategy
- Improve user engagement
- Optimize conversion
- Drive retention
Reviews of Amplitude’s implementation process are generally positive. However, like many GA alternatives, you’ll still have to decide on the exact events you want to track, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up with the data you need. The tool is especially helpful for companies with a large but relatively low LTV customer base, like home goods or apparel brands.
Final word: A platform for behavioral analytics that can go head to head with GA 360, Amplitude is a good contender but still doesn’t eliminate tedious event tracking.
#5 – Adobe Analytics
Adobe has always boasted a large product suite, and its analytics solution is no different. Like most of Adobe’s products, Adobe Analytics has complex pricing that includes features like website analytics, marketing analytics, attribution, and predictive analytics. There is no free version, but if you’re in the market for enterprise pricing you may be able to beat Google Analytics 360’s offering on certain features, like piping data to a data warehouse.
- Web analytics
- Multi-channel data collection
- Segmentation and customer journey analytics
- Predictive analysis
- Get 360 customer views
- Understand attribution for new customers
- Predict your most valuable users
Adobe’s implementation can be cumbersome—you’ll need to go through many steps and define a detailed event tracking plan to make sure you’re gathering the data you need. Adobe allows you to track the entire funnel across channels, and provides the same level of detail for Google Ads as GA does. Like GA, Adobe requires manual tagging, which should raise a red flag if you’re worried about being efficient with resources.
Final word: Adobe is a commitment, but it’s feature rich and works especially well with other products in the Adobe suite. A good alternative if you’re considering GA360.
#6 – Mixpanel
Mixpanel is a popular product analytics platform that lets you analyze web, mobile, and smart devices to see how and why users engage, convert, and return to your site. Unlike GA, the tool tracks behavioral analytics, although like Amplitude, GA, and Adobe, Mixpanel requires manual tracking and all the headaches that come with it.
- Behavioral analytics
- Data science
- Messaging and testing
- Data governance
- Get insights into how people interact with your products
- Drive marketing engagement and conversions
- Get high quality data and custom analysis
One of Mixpanel’s strengths lies in measuring the success of launches and campaigns. If you have a large user base and need to track many small events (like microtransactions from in-app purchases), Mixpanel can be very helpful.
Mixpanel recently released a new approach to identity management that makes it easier to merge IDs into a single user identity, but reviews seem to be mixed as to whether it’s much of an improvement over GA. Pricing after the free plan starts at $89, then moves up to enterprise.
Final word: Mixpanel doesn’t solve the problem of painful event tracking, but it might be a good option if individual campaign metrics are at the top of your KPIs.
For a deeper look, read about top alternatives to Mixpanel.
#7 – Kissmetrics
Kissmetrics is a tool for product and marketing teams that focuses on advanced web analytics. It’s a great alternative to Google Analytics if your product is mostly web based—it tracks in-depth metrics about key user behavior like signups, trial starts, feature adoption, and churn. If your product is iOS or Android-based, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
- Dashboard with KPIs at a glance
- Cohort reporting
- Funnel reporting
- A/B testing
- Understand SaaS metrics
- Optimize your ecommerce funnel
Kissmetrics isn’t for those looking or free or cheap alternatives. Its lowest plans start at $299 a month, but it does do something key that GA doesn’t: tie website activity back to user identity.
As for implementation, Kissmetrics is similar to most website analytics products. You’ll need to install a tracking code and come up with a tracking plan to make sure you’re capturing the right metrics up front. The process is cumbersome, according to some users.
Final word: If you’re a SaaS or ecommerce company whose product is mostly web-based and don’t mind spending more, Kissmetrics will give you user-based data in far more granularity than Google Analytics.
#8 – Pendo
Pendo is built primarily for product teams and offers insights about the product journey. The platform offers several features outside the scope of GA, like employee and user onboarding, but for teams looking for more than just analytics it may be a good choice.
- Sentiment tracking
- In-app guidance
- Product insights and feedback
- Product roadmap guidance
- Onboard new users
- Retain more customers
- Increase growth and adoption
If you’re looking for the ability to really dig into customer data and compare different groups of users, Pendo falls short. However, if you’re looking for a suite of features, it still may be a good alternative to GA360.
Final word: Although Pendo has a broader feature set, like GA it lacks contextual, real-time information about the user journey.
#9 – Fathom
Fathom is a lightweight, privacy-focused option for those seeking Google Analytics alternatives. The tool’s aim is on providing access to simple, fast website metrics for as many sites as needed.
- Unlimited sites
- Unlimited email reports
- Unlimited custom domains
- Cookie-free tracking
- Get more data privacy than with GA
- Stay GDPR + CCPA compliant
- Make decisions quickly with a single dashboard
Fathom isn’t free, but they do a good job of explaining why. The company offers a reasonably-priced product (starting at $14/month) for increased data privacy and security compared to GA.
Final word: Fathom is a good alternative to the free version of GA that eliminates worrying about the security of personal data, but it isn’t an option for those who need product analytics.