A brief on what you should be doing and can't do with Google Analytics.
Unlike few companies who would boast to be app only, your startup would most likely have omni platform presence: Desktop Web, Mobile Web, Android, iOS, and maybe Windows or smart wearables (if you have too much dev bandwidth). Now you can’t be using just Google Analytics to track your users on each platform. Your users might be interacting with you via multiple platforms, starting their journey on desktop and making a purchase on app, and you would not get this view in Google Analytics easily. So here are few things that you need to scale your startup.
Cross-Platform Tracking & People Analytics
Google Analytics tracks page views, but not the actions people take across our web and mobile apps. You can get a lot more valuable insights by measuring specific actions customers take on your page, than tracking what pages they visit. You would probably be using same account and different properties to track your users on Web, Mobile, Android, iOS. Now imagine a better way to track, analyze, and take actions on this data.
Some tools would create a profile for each logged-in user and track it across all platforms (web, mobile). They would also create profiles for anonymous users to track them and all that anonymous user data would be mapped to the user identity when the user does login/register. The only limitation to this tracking is that they would not be able to map anonymous web user with its anonymous mobile usage. This helps in cross platform tracking of your users. GA can’t analyze user actions on individual level.
Now there are certain global properties that the tools would collect on their own such as Location, Browser, Device etc. They would also save all the information that you collect about them such as phone number or anything and add it in the user profile. So any user profile can be enriched with data from multiple sources such as Google/Facebook Logins, Registration Data, and custom properties.
GA would sample data and provide you inaccurate results. Let’s say you have a 2% conversion based on a 30% sampled data. Now your actual conversion might be 3%, you launch a feature which decreases your page conversion to 2.5% and and the Google sampled data gives you 2.5% for the 30% sample they collect. You would be driving wrong conclusions that conversions increased when they decreased and try to fix problems in areas, where they don’t even exist. This is more relevant for sites with high traffic.
Limitations of Google Analytics
Google’s real time analytics lags at least by an hour. It won’t be incorrect to assume that it lags by 24 hrs. Additionally, GA can’t give you in-page analytics on pages which don’t have any clickable element. It can’t tell you how much time a person spent on last page of your website, since they can only measure when you hit the next page. This is a big problem if you are a content website with most people just visit 1 page.
In GA, you would need to specify funnel step in advance, where as in some of these modern tools, you can always build your funnel later and analyze it. If you have an app, GA can’t provide you uninstall tracking for apps. Today, you can not only track who uninstalled, but also map it with the exact marketing action which triggered the uninstall.
Engagement & Marketing Automation
Now you have great customer insights, but what use are they if your marketing team isn’t feeding these into their engagement channels. So this tool should integrate with your email, sms, notifications channels and report data about how each customer segment interacts with each channel. You should also read a great piece on how Google Analytics ruined Marketing. It talks about how marketers ignore the difference between strategies and channels.
As you grow your business, you need to automate your marketing. You would need to look into having multi-channel workflows based on some rules to engage with your customers.
I would not be able to name the best tool to use as it clearly depends on what your requirements and goals are. Primarily, there are two categories of tools: Product Analytics and Marketing Automation. Tools which would be better for product analytics such as MixPanel, CleverTap, Localytics, Amplitude etc are usually priced on MME (Monthly Million Events) but they would not have marketing automation workflows. Tools which would be better for marketing automation such as NetCore, WebEngage etc are usually priced on MAUs. By now, you obviously understand that both type of tools collect the same type of data, the difference lies in what they do with that data and how they present it. More and more companies would want the same tool to work for Marketing and Product teams. Soon the boundaries between the two would blur, and maybe that happens this year only!