Not sure GA4 is right for you? Here are some alternatives
With Universal Analytics ‘sunsetting’ on July 1st next year, there’s a decision that many marketing teams out there need to make sooner rather than later: Are you upgrading to GA4, or will you use an alternative analytics platform?
What you need to know before making your decision
Google Analytics has most likely been part of your digital toolkit for years – in fact, Universal Analytics has been around since 2005! How much you use it day to day will vary depending on your business, but with the imminent switch to GA4 there will be new things to learn and serious time to be invested by your team. If you’re thinking, ‘Well, how different can GA4 be?’ you may be in for a surprise!
GA4 is fundamentally different to the Universal Analytics you’re used to. It uses event-based tracking instead of tracking users through cookies and hits. That means re-learning how the platform works and setting up your conversions in a new way.
It’s free to set up, but long-term data storage beyond 14 months now comes with a cost. No longer can you look back on your data from years gone by, this needs integration with BigQuery; Google’s serverless data warehouse – so accessing your data comes with a fee.
GA4 is also far more sophisticated than Universal Analytics, allowing you to track a much wider range of web-based events. This allows you to create custom reports on any event, conversion or audience you could wish for. But if all you need to report on is sales and newsletter sign-ups, and the reports feature has always been underused, then you may not have a business need for a platform with all the bells and whistles like GA4.
And finally, GA4 needs Google Tag Manager to set up the property. For some businesses using bespoke websites, this can be a major blocker and a reason for why they just aren’t ready for the new platform yet
3 alternative platforms to GA4
So, if you think GA4 isn’t right for your business, then what next? Fortunately, there are several alternative apps and tools that simplify your site data analysis and offer various levels of technical support, taking the technical set up worries away from you. Here’s are some alternatives:
Mapp Cloud promises an all-in-one AI-powered marketing solution without the enterprise-level cost. It combines first-party data collection and AI-driven analysis to create a unique profile for each customer.
Where Mapp Cloud stands out is its cross-channel marketing automation capabilities, which will work best for businesses looking to reduce their number of separate marketing tools, or just want one simple and automated solution.
Worth noting: Mapp relies on first-party data, prospecting and bringing new customers to your brand, which may or may not match your marketing model. Additionally, pricing is on a case-by-case model, so it’s unclear how it compares with other tools.
Heap is an analytics-based platform that focuses on behaviour across the customer journey, including both websites and apps.
It simplifies things by automatically capturing users’ activity without the need for setting up tags in Google Tag Manager. Plus, the tool can integrate directly with iOS and Android native apps and link to third-party platforms like Shopify and CRM systems.
Pricing options start at a free version for businesses that receive less than 10,000 sessions a month to their site, with $3,600 a year being their lowest price point for growing businesses that need custom support and multiple projects.
Countly is an open-source tool that prides itself on being the GDPR-friendly alternative to Google Analytics.
Along with real-time analysis across websites and apps, it also offers a unique user ID feature, allowing the same user to be identified more easily across multiple browsers and devices. Where it lacks behind GA4 is its built-in and customisable tools and event analysis – but that level of sophistication may be what puts you off GA4.
With GA4 also moving to a more privacy-centric tracking model, and offering an improved user ID tracking across devices, Countly’s main advantages may be its simplicity and ease of use.
Pricing options are free for the community edition and priced for tailored options. Again this isn’t displayed on their site, so it’s unclear how they compare without enquiring.
Why we recommend upgrading to GA4
While each of these tools offer possible alternatives to GA4, our advice is that most businesses should be making the transition to GA4.
Each of the tools discussed above have paid for option, so the best features of the tool are behind a monthly payment. Apart from seeking expert advice, GA4 is free out of the box. The only other cost would be requesting lookback data older than 14 months from BigQuery.
It’s also worth remembering that this decision shouldn’t just be about where your business is now, but where you’re hoping to be in the future. Think of GA4 as a tool that will help you discover insights previously out of reach.
It’s an uphill climb, but there are some seriously cool features in GA4 you’ll get access to. For example, Google’s market-leading AI is behind GA4 and will be most noticeable in its predictive metrics feature; filling in the blanks and connecting up user sessions across websites, apps and different devices.
User privacy is hugely important for every marketer now, and GA4 is at the forefront, providing you a cross-channel view of your customer journey in the cookieless future of the web.
If Google Ads, Google Shopping or YouTube is part of your marketing mix then, naturally, GA4 offers the clearest integration between the platforms, helping to support better insights.
Over to you
With all of that being said, no-one knows your business aims and resource capability better than you. The most important thing is you don’t leave the decision to the last minute, and make it a considered one that factors in your future plans.
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