This is a transcript from episode 54 of the OMGrowth podcast
NOTE: I am not a privacy lawyer and if you need legal advice about the data you collect, you want to hire a legal expert to provide advice to your specific circumstances.
I’m Lanie Lamarre and last week, we talked about why I uninstalled Google Analytics from my website but this week, I’m going to talk about what I’m using to track my campaigns instead. Can I get an airhorn up in here? (I love that sound so much!)
I believe in being data-driven with your online business decisions. I believe in dashboards, I believe in knowing your numbers, I believe in getting a return-on-investment for your marketing efforts and being able to understand how those efforts and returns influence each other so you can improve your efforts and increase your results.
I do not believe you need Google Analytics to do any of this and I have a couple of solid recommendations to back that up.
Now, before I uninstalled Google Analytics – and if you want the reasons behind why I did this, check out episode 53 of the podcast – but I actually tried out a few different privacy-compliant analytics platforms to see how they worked, and I’ll be honest, it was a bit of a shock to see my new dashboards at first.
They were simple to understand. Like, very simple!
Keep in mind, I was first certified in Google Analytics some time back around 2012 so we’re talking about a decade of accounting for A LOT of information. In fact, Google Analytics collects more than 500 data points on each visitor that comes to your website, and that’s before your page even loads. I can’t name 500 different data points, much less use them all so when I saw how simple, relevant and effective it could be to hone in on just a few key data points, it felt a little shocking.
I even went through a little emotional, “ummm… where’s the rest of it?” But when you use privacy-compliant analytics software, it’s a lot like when you go to a fancy 12-course meal with all of these tiny little plates and you’re thinking you’re going to need to stop at a drive-thru after this because there’s no way you’ll fill up on these small servings.
But like the 12-course meal, you realize that by the time you slowly digest all of these little plates, you’re actually satisfied and you got everything you need.
What’s more is that you don’t need a special training to understand what you’re looking at, there’s no learning curve or complex definitions, you don’t have to learn how to code just to set some flipping goals, and you’ll never once wonder “am I doing this right?” with my 2 privacy-compliant analytics software of choice: FATHOM ANALYTICS and PLAUSIBLE ANALYTICS.
Before I get into why you would choose one over the other, let’s look at shiny features they both have to offer and what makes them so much better than Google Analytics:
- Both meet or exceed the requirements made by privacy laws like GDPR, CCPA and PEDR, and both ensure that you are compliant with how you are accessing and storing information, regardless of where you are located, where your visitors are logging in from or what your personal expertise or understanding is about what your privacy obligations are;
- Fathom and Plausible are both independently-owned and have no shareholders or investors to answer to at the time of publication. These are software companies that are funded by your subscription dollars and YOU therefore own the data you collect, as opposed to using a “free” platform where your payment is to solicit the data of your audience in exchange for the corporation offering you the service;
- Both platforms aggregate your data collection, which means that all the individual identifiers have been remixed as such that you don’t have to worry about breaking the law by inadvertently collecting Personally Identifiable Information… because these platforms prioritize YOU, their client, in the way they collect data rather than putting their own corporate needs first and then burying your obligations to them in the Terms And Conditions of Use for you to figure out;
- They also don’t collect a lot of the types of information that “clutter” your reports. Instead, they make it simple for you to be intentional about your marketing efforts by recording your use of UTM parameters – I’ve talked a lot about those and oh yeah, those continue to be tracked and now that we’re getting intentional about tracking, they matter more than ever – and you don’t get the type of information overload that comes with collecting and reporting on #allthethings. Instead, you’re zoning in on the results you’re seeing from your efforts, and isn’t clearly seeing YOUR results the whole point of tracking your dang efforts in the first place?;
- Fathom and Plausible both use dashboards that are SIMPLE and your data is straight-forward to filter, so instead of getting lost in all the things you could learn about and understand, you can instead take intentional action with information you easily can and do understand right off the bat;
- I know this is personal gripe and if you’ve followed me for any period of time, you’ve heard me bemoan this before but I disdain the term “users” to describe the people you’re meant to serve. I’m tickled pink to report that neither Fathom nor Plausible use that type of language in their reports but instead, they respectfully refer to your people as “visitors” and I love this.
So how do you decide between FATHOM and PLAUSIBLE?
They both have a trial period and I encourage you to test run both, or you can watch me walk you through my thoughts on each of them on Instagram or TikTok to see each of them in action.
However, here are some key differences that may simplify your decision-making:
Run by Canadian Paul Jarvis (author of Company Of One), Fathom Analytics is the privacy-compliant analytics software of choice for those who have a little tech know-how and for whom it is important to see dollar figures attributed to their goals.
While your Goals/Events are a touch more technical to create with Fathom than they are with Plausible, they also provide a bit more opportunity for customization.
The Europe-based duo of Uku Taht and Marko Saric who make Plausible possible bring a few more key data sets to dig through than Fathom does (like Exit Pages and more in-depth visitor location options), and Plausible makes it beginner-level easy to create your own Goals/Events using simply the URL slug of the page you want to prioritize tracking.
Now I know what question comes next: “well, Lanie, which one are YOU using?”
At the time of publishing, I’m in a polyamorous relationship with my privacy-compliant analytics software so I actually have both of them installed on my assets (and even with the scripts of both platforms on my website and its assets, it’s still light years faster to load my pages now than it was when I had all the heavy Google Analytics code on there – bananas, right?)
Both services are relatively inexpensive and this makes it a “no-brainer” for data-loving, privacy-focused person such as myself to want to keep them both.
However, depending on how much traffic you get to your website, you’ll be paying somewhere around $15-20/month for 100,000 visitors and sites getting less than 10,000 can expect to pay less than $10/month.
Google Analytics may not cost you money to use, but I prefer to spend the price of a nice cocktail every month to be able to toast to the fact that I’m protecting my visitors from being unnecessarily exploited by the Data Gods. I own the information I’m collecting, I feel confident that I’m not breaking any privacy laws and I have what I need to continue making data-driven decisions.
It is worth noting, though, that while your website analytics may be your “main” source of information as this comments on how people are behaving on your website, this probably isn’t your only source of information.
For instance, your sales pages, your course platform, your email marketing service and/or your payment processors are probably collecting information that is of interest to you. Likewise, each of your social media platforms will have their own data sets that comment on how your people are engaging with you on those platforms, whether or not they click-through to your website.
You may also be using a Facebook pixel to track and collect data, and there are strategic ways you could be using that to market a little more ethically, too, which we’ll talk about on a future episode.
But I want you to really stop and think – don’t just stare at a screen with donut-glazed eyes taking in more information than you know what to do with – but go analog for a second and think, “what am I trying to improve and what information do I need to know to make that happen?”
Let’s say you just launched and you’re doing your due diligence and following up on your results for the launch. Do we care about how our blog posts performed? Maybe later we will be but right now we’re looking at the results from our launch, which means we want to know:
- how did people find my sales page;
- how many people visit my sales page;
- how many people visit my check out;
- how many people bought my offer?
Depending on how you business model is set up, you’ll do better by looking at what your sales page software or your cart/payment processor is telling you about your performance rather than your website as a whole.
This is the ultimate exercise of honing in on what matters for the results you’re looking for.
I personally feel like this is a sigh of relief – you don’t HAVE to know and look at #allthethings all the time – you can just focus on what you’re working on NOW.
If you’ve grown used to Google Analytics, Fathom and Plausible may seem restrictive at first but as a reformed cheerleader for the platform, I can vouch for how liberating it is to simplify all of this.
You still have to be intentional about tracking your efforts – in fact, it’s more important than ever to do so – but I’m here for intentional, and I’m here for simple, and I’m here for ethical.
And I’m here for YOU so come visit me on social media – you’ll find me on Instagram @omgrowth or TikTok @omgrowthpod – and I’m showing you what intentional and simple and ethical can look like for you over there. I’m also dropping something big news early next week that I cannot wait to share with you but my excitement and I digress….
Look, there comes a point where it’s like “you have enough and you know enough”. You don’t actually NEED that much information when it comes to getting data-driven about improving a launch or optimizing a funnel or figuring out which eyeballs will be the easiest to multiply. But you do have to be intentional and I encourage YOU to consider how YOU can be more intentional with your digital marketing.
There will be more intentional talks next week because I’ve got you – I’ve always got you – and you’re my favorite – baiiiee!
I’m inserting a little P.S. to this episode because after last week’s episode, I received a bunch of great emails and DMs – clearly this topic is touching a nerve – but one of those emails was from Amanda Grossman from Frugal Confessions and she shared an article with me that I felt would be a short-coming not to share with you because it highlights the changes you can make to your Google Analytics settings to make your use of the platform more privacy-compliant.
Is the article perfect? Nope. For instance, it focuses on the Universal Analytics version of Google Analytics instead of the GA4 version which everyone is being forced into migrating to at this point, and GA4 is still ever-changing and evolving – the platform is still not ready for its close-up yet – and neither are its settings. If you stick with Google Analytics, you’ll either have to be comfortable with the fact that there will be on-going maintenance with your use of the platform as data and privacy laws evolve, or you will want to get a Google Analytics specialist who has you on their call sheet that will keep your use of the platform honest, ethical and in-the-know.
And that’s been the point of these last 2 episodes: the goal isn’t to scare you or bully you into changing your platform but rather, it’s to bring awareness and understand about what’s happening in world of digital marketing and what implications it may have and what responsibilities that may have for us.
I say this a lot but you’re the boss, apple sauce, and you get to call the shots. Whatever decision you make, you should feel informed and empowered about making, and while simplifying and minimizing my data collection practices using software that’s privacy-compliant straight out of the box is the right decision for me, I know – I KNOW! – that you’ll be making the right decision for you. So like I said, that article that Amanda shared with me is also linked so you HAVE options and you HAVE agency… and you have me saying okbaieagainforrealthistime. Talk so0on!