Web Analytics a key performance indicator for business

Every marketing activity should be focused on boosting ROI, and for this you need to look at effective ways to convert your insights into value generating actions. Web analytics are smart tools available to online marketers that enable management to glean actionable insight so that they can take informed marketing decisions.

The advantages of using web analytics are many – effectively track ROI of different marketing initiatives to uncover flaws in different web-processes. Web analytics has been gaining steady popularity amongst web businesses and also web marketers. It is used to analyse evolving market trends and to narrow down on useful website users from the many curious web-visitors. Web analytics allows you to track dynamic web-behavior of users too. Thus web analytics tool evaluates latest website trends and the online visitors' / users' preferences in terms of different site features and offers.

Web Analytics: Paid vs. Free tools

Today many web analytics tools are available to help marketers – both free (e.g.Google Analytics) as well as paid solutions. While the free analytics tool are helpful and offer a great deal of insight, sometimes it can be advantageous to hire a professional consultant/firm to develop reports that are customised to your needs. Paid web analytic solutions/services come with valuable commercial support that helps marketers to understand their data better, to devise smart tactics and strategies for still better results. While the free web analytics tools are relatively easy to implement, at times it is found that even these free tools often need page tags to be incorporated. These can at times interfere with the other 'on page JavaScripts' and then have to be incorporated on every web-page.

Also the free tools usually just show trends and a short 'summary based' view of the data. While the paid solutions display the summary data presented in the form of useful dashboards and also allow you to easily drill down to micro levels to reach the core of a troublesome issue. This could be as minute as the click stream of an individual webpage user's visit. This enables webmasters and marketers to benefit from a real in-depth insight into the various activities on their websites.

Another advantage of paid web analytics is the ability to 'slice and dice' the information to gain from the real and tangible answers to business critical queries. This allows you to uncover issues that may be holding back higher conversion rates on your website. For example you can compare visitor traffic and conversion rates for different marketing campaigns and even drill down to the level of effective keywords – only with the paid analytics tools, the free version would just give you comparisons (and not the effective keywords).

Here are the main differences between the free and paid solutions of web analytics:

Free Web Analytics




  • No payments ever
  • Faster implementation
  • Summary data shows main trends
  • Issue/goal based tracking
  • Lacks formal support / professional backup services
  • If using page tags, there is a vendor lock-in, as you do not have access to the raw data
  • Aggregated data hence no drill down ability
  • No access to your data as soon as you leave your provider
  • Question mark on the provider storing your precious data in the long run and in the format that you may need
  • Takes up significant time to analyse the data and may be 'time-expensive'
  • Lack of customisable reports may make it difficult for marketers to uncover real issues


Paid Web Analytics

  • Effective data drill downs to micro levels
  • 'Slice & dice' data to uncover real answers to business issues
  • Powerful and advanced analytics solutions can even integrate with existing business intelligence tools /other information systems for better overall view of web-initiative(s) performance
  • Accurate visitor segmentation allows you to consistently identify sets of useful / important visitors
  • Effective online and offline marketing campaign management and comparative tracking
  • Focused objective/ goal based web-page/web-visitor process tracking


  • Cost of solution/service, increased time and effort needed for implementation and training
  • Probable vendor lock-in if the web-analytics tool is a hosted solution

Emerging Picture

While the paid Web Analytic solutions do have compelling advantages, the free tools offered by leading organisations like Google have indeed raised the awareness of their applicability. As there is little or no risk in implementing a free tool, many marketers like to first familiarise themselves on free tools, prior to purchasing a paid version. Free Web Analytics have also raised the profile of Web Analytics and helped make it popular universally. This in turn has helped paid solution providers to make better niche tools that give marketers still better ROI on analytical reporting. Besides a large enterprise may have a centralised paid Web Analytics solution, while individual departments that have developed some 'short lived' websites, could easily use some quick web traffic summary information from the free tools before their main solution can be tweaked for more in-depth analysis.

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