Google Analytics For The Enterprise: Perception & Reality

google analyticsLast year Google released Google Analytics premium in an effort to expand its enterprise clientele. But for some people, Google Analytics is still perceived as less professional/enterprise than other tools. In this post I try to explain whether this perception is rightfully attributed to Google Analytics and why it happens.

Google Analytics Enterprise Market Stats

In a recent presentation entitled Mythbusting Google Analytics (link to video), Stephane Hamel discussed several Google Analytics myths and showed why they are mostly not true. Below are the myths he discussed:

  • You don’t own your data
  • It is not a unified digital analytics platform
  • It does not use open data and standards
  • It uses sample data, it is not accurate
  • It does not provide world class support

He also provides an interesting set of charts from research he conducted, of which the most interesting one is the following: Google Analytics Market Share

It clearly shows that a high percentage of respectable companies are using Google Analytics (please note that the percentages sum is higher than 100% due to companies using two or more tools).

Google Analytics & WordPress

As we can see above, Google Analytics can be used by large companies and, if you watch the video linked above, it is clear that the tool is robust enough to answer most of the needs for most organizations. There is still 5-10% of the needs that Google does not (and probably will not) solve, e.g. Personally identifiable information (PII), which is forbidden on Google Analytics according to their Terms of Service. But why do some people still not perceive Google Analytics as an enterprise and full featured tool?

My theory is that Google Analytics suffers from a similar problem as WordPress. If someone asks which platform you use for your website and you say WordPress, at least 75% of the people will look at you and say: “Ah, so you have a blog!” Professionals in the area know that WordPress is no longer a blogging platform, it is also a blogging platform, but it can be a robust CMS (e.g. Search Engine Land and Marketing Land use WordPress as their CMS). Google Analytics generates the same responses; many people still think it is a free Web Analytics solution for blogs and small sites.

But if you are a professional acquainted with Google Analytics, you probably know that it provides a large set of tools for tracking, very often not available in the so-called enterprise solutions. One quick look at the Google Analytics code site will be enough to learn about some of the complex implementations that can be done: Custom Variables, Multiple Domains, Mobile Apps, Flash sites, and others.

And since Google does not help websites implement and use the tool, they maintain a healthy network of expert consultancies called Google Analytics Certified Partners (disclosure: I am a Certified Partner). These companies are specialized in the tool and have direct access to the engineering and marketing teams in order to provide a service in line with the tool.

Point For Improvement

While I believe Google Analytics is an enterprise tool, as mentioned above, I do think there is one extremely important feature that is lacking, a tool critical for enterprises: User Access Management (as mentioned in this article about Analytics User Management).

As of today, Google provides just two options when it comes to providing access: Administrator (can access anything in the account) and Viewer (can access specific profiles). This division is far from good. In any mid-sized company, the data needs to be more modular, i.e. enable showing different reports to different people. Maybe you want to provide access to traffic sources but not to content, to conversions but not to ecommerce, to browser usage but not to traffic sources, etc. This can be done through the Google Analytics API, thorugh which companies can build their own reporting tool if they have management access issues. But it would be lovely to have that option through the UI.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Analytics | Channel: Analytics | Features & Analysis | Google: Analytics | Statistics: Market Share

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About The Author: is the Founder of Conversion Journey, a Google Analytics Certified Partner. He is also the founder of Online Behavior, a Marketing Measurement & Optimization website. You can follow him on Google+ or Twitter.

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  • http://www.pixelrage.net Pixelrage

    Google Analytics jumped the shark when the keyword “(not provided)” started appearing on your top keyword traffic list.

  • http://twitter.com/tysonkirksey Tyson Kirksey

    Pixelrage – You know that wasn’t a change in Google Analytics, correct?

  • http://profiles.google.com/mrubenzahl Moe Rubenzahl

    That has nothing to with the Analytics choice. Any analytics package will report it the same way because that’s how the Google SE is reporting it now. 

    You may not like that Google did that, but it doesn’t affect which analytics package you choose.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mrubenzahl Moe Rubenzahl

    After considerable investigation, we (Fortune 1000 B2B) switched to Google Analytics from a pricey competitor and GA proves superior in two ways: Ease of use (finally, my analysts doesn’t have to be involved in every data request) and usability of data. GA provides some things the other guys could not furnish after years of requests.

    The only downside is as the article says: People question the decision because they question whether it’s a “professional” solution. But guess what: My servers are Linux-Apache-MySQL, too.

  • Anonymous

    Cross domain traffic isn’t exactly cross domain traffic in GA. It requires you to click a link from one site to another. Imagine setting that up for all European country sites for an enterprise customer.
    That is just one example. Another could be simple sales brochure downloads across all 200 sites. There are a huge amount of things you cannot do with GA that is accomplished out of the box with enterprise tools. GA premium is a larger version of a great free tool, but it is not an enterprise tool if you ask me.

  • http://spanishgringo.blogspot.com/ Michael Freeman

    Google needs to offer a mid-range premium package.  GA Premium is way too expensive for a lot of companies, but “free” GA has way too much sampling.

    Also, if they are going to be an “enterprise” ready app, they need a lot better documentation and consistency between dimensions & metrics offered by standard reports, custom reports and advanced segments.  There are still some big discrepancies… for example Next Page and Previous Page are only available in API and not custom reports/adv segments.  Many of the new dims / metrics do not have written definitions that appear in the web app but in the data api explorer they do….just lacking polish of an enterprise app.  It should get there soon.

  • http://online-behavior.com/author/daniel-waisberg Daniel Waisberg

    Galoredk, I have implemented Google Analytics to websites with 20 million visits a month across 20 domains, and it works beautifully. What you said is accurate, it will work only if the user clicks from one domain to the other (like when changing languages, for example), but it works. I guess the other solution would be to use 3rd party cookies, which would be even less accurate due to cookie blocking.

    As for clicks on downloads, mailto links and outbound clicks, there are several tools that can do that, here is a very good one http://www.analyticsengine.net

  • Ujesh P

    GA is more of a reporting tool compared to Omniture. Too many limitations on what can be done. Goal funnels can’t have regular expressions (bah!), can’t apply segments either. You can’t create a goal and apply it for past data. GA is a good tool for regular reporting – not for deep-dives.

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