When choosing a web analytics platform, you must assess what will be most beneficial for your site. Key things you should be asking are:
- Is the site big enough to warrant a more premium analytics package? How many visitors does it receive a month?
- Do I utilise all the free services available to optimise my site? What will I gain from premium that I don’t have in a free version?
- Does the premium version offer the services I need for my site?
What’s the difference between free and premium analytics?
The major difference between a free and premium web analytics service (apart from price) is that a free platform requires the installation and maintenance to be carried out by your team, whereas premium services provide it. Both free and premium analytics platforms require in-house expertise to analyse and validate data, however premium services have more dedicated support mechanisms. Typically these are budgeted on a time or credit system, where if you run out of support time or credits, you may need to pay extra for continued support.
Premium services shift the liability from your internal team, to the web analytics provider. Other advantages of premium web analytics platform include capability of handling more hits, less processing time, and more support from your account manager.
Free web analytics options
- Google Analytics
An advantage of the free version of Google Analytics is there are a lot of learning materials to help you on your way to becoming an expert. However, with the free version of GA, you may receive sampled reports, and the reports you choose to download can take up to 24 hours to process.
Another potential drawback is that the free version of Google Analytics is limited to 200,000 hits per day. If your website sends more than this, you may need to consider moving to a premium service
Premium web analytics options
- Google Analytics 360 – Premium
Now Google Analytics 360 is aimed at the enterprise-sized businesses, and for good reason – it costs $150,000/year. Here we get all the benefits of the standard package, but supplemented with premium support, attribution, easier designs, and access to machine learning insights.
Another bonus is that you always have access to unsampled reports, which are downloadable in up to 4 hours, so you get quick and accurate results. As well as the premium version of Google Analytics, you can also get access to the premium version of their other products such as Tag Manager, Optimize, and Data Studio.
- Adobe Analytics
Adobe Analytics has three pricing tiers for different levels of businesses. gives access to real-time reporting, support in getting set-up, customisable reports, and even access to AI/ Machine-learning algorithms. The interface is much different to Google Analytics, and there are less issues with sampling.
Webtrends is one of the more alternative options, but offer more focus on optimisation, starting from £119/month. From an analytics perspective, it has dashboards, custom report set up, and can integrate with SharePoint for easy business-wide report sharing. There are many tiers to the pricing, with the highest directed towards CRO development, not just web analytics.
- IBM Digital Analytics
Another alternative web analytics option is IBM Digital Analytics, previously known as CoreMetrics. They provide the ability to make dashboards, calculate ROI, and provide real-time analytics.
Free Vs Premium web analytics platform in a nutshell
- Premium is paid for.
- Free platform is installed and maintained by you, premium platform offer consultation regarding this as required.
- If there is a problem with the data provided by premium platform, the provider is liable. If you use a free version, you are liable for any errors in reporting.
- Support for free platform can come from many different sources, but official support for any specific issues you are facing may be limited. Premium services often provide you support from your account manager.
- Learning materials for premium analytics packages are more difficult to find outside of official channels, so the knowledge pool for these packages is much more limited.
- Premium web analytics platform generally has quicker processing times than free platform.
- Premium platform has a much larger hit count than free platform, and so it becomes a necessity for websites with high volumes of traffic.
- Free web analytics platform often uses sampling in its reporting, whereas premium analytics platform can reduce sampling.
- Premium platforms often have access to more reporting styles and customisation than free web analytics platforms.