In Analytics, Internet Marketing, Tech Trends

With so many new internet privacy laws bubbling up over the past few years, and many more on the way, having a data-privacy-compliant analytics platform is becoming more of a concern to many businesses. Google’s approach to this challenge was to replace its flagship Universal Analytics with Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a move that sent shockwaves throughout the digital marketing industry who had gotten very comfortable with Universal Analytics.

We too felt this shockwave and like others realized that it was time for a backup plan – especially as various countries around the world continue to enact their own individual privacy laws to regulate the world wide web. In the end, we found Matomo to be the best backup plan for GA4, but in many cases we are still suggesting GA4 for client’s use. 

Why are we using both? In some cases the client has been with Google Analytics all along and there isn’t a need to change. For new clients or older clients with emerging privacy concerns, having Matomo as an option is the perfect solution. It should be noted that both of these solutions are free. So here is a quick breakdown on the two platforms:

The Pros and Cons of Google Analytics 4

The Pros

  • Integration – GA4 integrates seamlessly with other Google products like Google Ads, Google Search Console, and Looker Studio.
  • Predictive Analytics – GA4 offers predictive analytics and insights gleaned from Google’s advanced machine learning model. Valuable to larger businesses with more complex marketing needs.
  • Event-based Tracking – GA4 focuses on event-based tracking which helps with developing a deeper understanding of user interactions. Again, more focused on larger businesses with complex marketing needs.

The Cons

  • Challenging Interface – GA4 has a very clunky interface that is not intuitive at all. For new users, often this means a steep learning curve just to get to the most basic of analytical data.
  • Data Retention – GA4 only retains analytical data for a maximum of 14 months.
  • Privacy – Privacy concerns still pop up from time to time (especially in the EU) due to the fact that the data is stored on Google’s servers. Clearly Google will update the platform to meet these concerns, but Matomo provides a more worry-free approach to privacy.

Who is Google Analytics 4 Best Suited For?

  • Large businesses with complex marketing needs.
  • Businesses using Google Ads or deeply integrated with other Google products. 
  • Domestic businesses who had been using Google Analytics UA and don’t invest much in marketing.

The Pros and Cons of Matomo Analytics

The Pros

  • Privacy – With Matomo, the analytics data is hosted on the business’s server, meaning the business has full ownership and control of any collected data. Matomo focuses on ethical data collection practices. 
  • Open Source – Matomo is open-source, meaning it can be customized to fit a business’s needs.
  • Data Retention – Matomo offers unlimited data retention since the data is stored on the business’s host server.
  • User-Friendly Interface – Matomo has an easy-to-use interface and is especially suited for WordPress websites where it is easily accessed in the WordPress dashboard.

The Cons

  • Integration – Matomo doesn’t really allow much in the way of integration with other platforms. This is partly due to privacy concerns, but for businesses relying on a wide range of marketing tools, this could be a big negative.
  • Predictive Analytics – Matomo is simply not nearly as advanced as GA4 in this arena. Large businesses with sophisticated marketing needs might be better off looking elsewhere.
  • Costs for Add On Features –  It may be hard to call this a con, but seeing all the cool plugins you can add to Matomo (like heat maps and traffic funnels) and then seeing that selecting a few can add up in price pretty quickly may be a hard pill to swallow for businesses on a limited budget. Just remember that developers need to be paid for their hard work too.

Who is Matomo Analytics Best Suited For?

  • Small to large businesses with a global user base and deep privacy concerns. 
  • Small to medium domestic businesses with less complex analytics needs.
  • Businesses that are concerned about keeping a history of their analytics over 14 months.

Analytics Serve a Well-Thought-Out Marketing Strategy

In the end, keep in mind that analytics typically serve marketing and sales. Without efforts in those areas, or a plan in place for upcoming efforts in those areas, having a robust analytics platform in place isn’t really serving your bottom line. If you are looking to increase your business’s marketing efforts, our friendly, capable team can help! Give us a call at (941) 548-9950 or send us a message.

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