As all marketers know, analytics steer the ship in everything they do. Running marketing campaigns without analytics data is like steering that ship without a compass – you have absolutely no idea where you’re going and if you’re making any progress.
Your metrics display whether or not your efforts are successful and should dictate how you evolve your strategies to ensure you’re getting the most out of every tactic from your team.
But how do you get ahold of these metrics and make sense of them? Arguably, the best and most well-known tool for measuring and optimizing your strategies is Google Analytics.
What Is Google Analytics?
If you work in marketing, there’s a good chance you’ve at least heard Google Analytics mentioned in several conversations. But these days, the norm is that most marketing professionals have at least dabbled a bit in the platform.
But in case you’re not familiar with it, we’ll lay out the basics for you: Google Analytics is a platform used to analyze your website’s most important metrics, such as number of users, page views, bounce rate, source of your visitors, session time, and what kind of device a person used to access your site. These are just a few of the many metrics that Google Analytics tracks.
These insights help you identify strengths and weaknesses within your website to help you improve it for more traffic and conversions.
And the best part about Google Analytics? It’s affordable!
Is Google Analytics Free?
Google Analytics has tons of features that you can use for free, but there are a few more advanced functions that you’ll need to pay for if you want access to them.
This “freemium” model for SaaS companies is quite common – while the free tier is limited compared to the paid tier, it’s still powerful. And you can always upgrade to gain access to those higher end features.
But what shocked us about the Google Analytics tier system is the immense price jump from the free tier to the premium.
The premium tier, which is called Google Analytics 360, costs $150,000 each year.
Yes, you read that right. There are that many zeroes.
However, for large enterprises with big budgets and a need for more advanced features, Google Analytics 360 might make a lot of sense. For everyone else, well, it probably makes sense to stick with the free version. Nevertheless, let’s break down the features of each tier.
Google Analytics Free Version vs. Premium
With such a hefty price tag, the features between the free and premium tiers of Google Analytics are wildly different.
What’s Included With Standard Google Analytics?
The free version of Google Analytics is great for small and medium-sized businesses that won’t run into issues with certain limitations.
However, if you’re a medium-sized business that does run up against these limitations, you can supplement Google Analytics with another analytics platform that costs less, like HubSpot Analytics.
The free Google Analytics platform includes a ton of awesome tools, including:
The goal tracking feature allows you to set a goal for each page of your website.
The goal can be something simple, like a session length or the number of pages viewed per session, or it can be an action that was completed, like subscribing to your blog, downloading an ebook, or making a purchase.
Each time a user completes the goal, Google marks it as a conversion. And as we all know in marketing, conversions are the most important metric to track.
The flow visualization functions allow you to act as the shadow to your visitors – you can track exactly how they move through your website from one page to the next.
You can segment the traffic you follow by the source from which they came, whether it be social media, an email click, an ad, or through SERPs.
If you’re already a master with the reporting features of Google Analytics and you need a more specifically targeted, tailored approach, then you’ll probably benefit from the platform’s custom reporting function.
The customer reporting features allows you to organize data as you need so you can track uniquely specific goals and metrics. You can create your own custom reports or choose one of the many useful templates created by other Google Analytics users in the Solutions Gallery.
You can track unique metrics like 404 tracking, ecommerce data, and page engagement.
Personally, one of my favorite features of Google Analytics – their SEO reporting function. It tells you which keywords you rank for (and what your rank is) and which you get the most traffic from.
It also tracks your click-through rate and traffic data for your best landing pages.
Other Notable Free Tools:
- Social Reporting
- Mobile Device & App Tracking
- Video Performance Measurement
- Multi-Channel Reporting
- Data Export & Tracking API
- Integration with AdWords, AdSense, Search Console, and DoubleClick AdExchange
What’s Included With Google Analytics 360?
If you’re a larger company with a more generous budget and you find yourself in need of more data, then Google Analytics 360 might be the better solution for you.
This premium tier allows you to utilize a better, more advanced suite of tools for diving deeper on the specific twists and turns of visitor behavior. With tools like the DoubleClick Campaign Manager, you’re more equipped to fully define the buyer’s journey and better understand your audience.
But let’s take a closer look at some of Google’s 360 Premium plan functions:
One of the most notable limitations of the free version is the data volume capacity cap – it only tracks up to 10 million monthly hits and 20 custom metrics and variables.
For smaller companies with less traffic, that might be fine. But if you’re a big enterprise receiving floods of traffic and have the need for lots of different custom metrics, then this might hold you back.
The paid version allows you to access up to 50 variables and 200 dimensions and metrics for each of those variables. That’s a whole truckload more data than the free version.
Data-Driven Attribution Modeling
Now this function is cool. With the data-driven attribution modeling function, Google Analytics connects with other accounts to track real data across all plains and closely analyzes your marketing touchpoints to develop custom models that reflect your customer buyer journeys.
It ultimately displays a more complete view of how each step of your process performs, so you can make better marketing investment decisions.
BigQuery – A Fully Managed Data Warehouse
This function is a golden beacon for the analytics data specialists out there. Google Analytics 360 comes with BigQuery, a cloud data warehouse equipped with machine learning. This tool has an immense amount of power that allows you to find even the most complex insights within your web data.
Additionally, it also allows you to seamlessly export all of your data to a different third party data warehouse if you choose to.
Other Notable Premium Tools:
- Salesforce Integration
- Ad Networks Integration
- Video Views and Clicks Data
- Custom Funnels
- Advanced Analysis
A Solution for Everyone
Whether you’re a small local company or a billion dollar enterprise, Google Analytics has something to offer you. Even for larger companies, we recommend testing the waters with the free version before diving in and handing over the big bugs for the premium tier.
Considering the base level of Google Analytics costs... well... nothing, this is an incredibly valuable resource just sitting there waiting to be used. You absolutely need a data reporting tool, and Google Analytics paves an open, actionable pathway to better success for all businesses, including yours.