From 1 July 2023, the legacy version of Google Analytics, ‘Universal Analytics’, will cease to collect data for its users.
This means that if you want to keep using Google Analytics, your only option will be to migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). For some webmasters, this has provided the catalyst to seek out alternative analytics platforms to monitor their websites or apps.
Why marketers are seeking alternatives to GA4
Google Analytics 4 launched in 2020, and has been available alongside the older Universal Analytics ever since.
Some users have celebrated GA4 for its innovative features, which include cookies-free tracking (for accounts that meet a certain visitor threshold) and support for app analytics. The new platform is particularly notable for its capability to track events in the user journey, from relatively high-level actions such as loading a webpage or clicking a link, to finer details of the user experience such as clicking play on a video or downloading a file.
But despite GA4’s upsides, there are still many marketers who prefer the older Universal Analytics, which is arguably better at tracking top-level metrics such as visitors acquired and pageviews. These marketers know UA and they like it – why should they have to change?
Rather than switching from UA to GA4, some marketers are exploring other analytics platforms instead. This guide will introduce you to some of the most popular alternatives to GA4.
The best alternatives to GA4
At a glance:
- Best for enterprise-level analysis: Adobe Analytics
- Best for user privacy and security: Fathom Analytics
- Best for balancing user privacy and in-depth analysis: PIWIK Pro Analytics Suite
- Best for giving you control of your data: Matomo Analytics
- Best for innovative features: Oribi
Best for: enterprise-level analysis
Adobe Analytics is a premium analytics package, which includes web analytics as part of an all-in-one marketing analytics suite.
If your business has a large (quite possibly six-figure) budget for analytics, Adobe Analytics has some noteworthy strengths – particularly when it comes to tracking individual customers across multiple channels. This is done through Adobe’s Customer Journey Analytics, which can create a single customer view (SCV) by bringing together multiple data sources about the same person, such as call centre data, retail data, survey data, CRM data and web analytics data.
Audience-wide data analysis in Adobe Analytics happens in a dashboard called Analysis Workspace, which enables you to sort data by dimensions (e.g. country, acquisition channel), performance metrics and audience segments. It’s an approachable, easy-to-use system that brings simplicity to many analytical activities, from big-picture assessment to granular exploration. In many cases, when you want to see a new factor reflected in a visualisation, you can simply drag-and-drop it into place – which strikes us as a far more intuitive method than navigating via menus.
Adobe Analytics is a premium-priced product, available by bespoke arrangement with Adobe.
Best for: user privacy and security
In the words of Fathom Analytics co-founder Paul Jarvis, “Fathom lets you collect data on your site without spying on anyone.”
Fathom is a straightforward, elegantly designed web analytics platform that gives you some of the web analytics functionality you’re familiar with from Google Analytics – such as measurement of hits, dwell time, acquisition sources and conversions – without using cookies and without storing visitors’ personal data.
In contrast to other, better-known analytics platforms, Fathom Analytics works in compliance with a full complement of key data regulations, including the GDPR, CCPA, ePrivacy and PECR.
Not only is Fathom great for website visitors’ privacy, it’s also a pleasure to use for the marketer. We were particularly impressed with the platform’s ease of configuration. For example, you can “zoom in” on a section of a date range by simply clicking and dragging over the desired time period.
Fathom Analytics is available on a subscription basis, with very reasonable pricing. Subscriptions start at $140 per year (up to 200,000 monthly pageviews), ranging up to $740 per year (up to 2,000,000 monthly pageviews) and beyond.
If you’d like to try Fathom before you subscribe, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial.
PIWIK Pro Analytics Suite
Best for: balancing the needs for user privacy and in-depth analysis
PIWIK Pro Analytics Suite is a best-of-both-worlds analytics platform, combining in-depth data analysis with robust tracking consent features. The suite’s core functionality is made up of three interconnected modules: Analytics, Tag Manager, and Consent Manager. A fourth module, ‘Customer Data Platform’, is available to subscribers on a Custom price plan.
From the analytics user’s perspective, this platform is very similar to Universal Analytics (the legacy version of Google Analytics that is gradually being replaced by GA4). In particular, PIWIK Pro’s navigation and data visualisations make it look pretty much like a UA clone. If you loved UA and you don’t want to switch to GA4, PIWIK Pro would be one of the most familiar alternatives you could choose.
Despite its functional and aesthetic similarities to UA, PIWIK Pro differs significantly from both versions of GA in terms of website visitors’ privacy. The platform has a robust, GDPR-compliant cookies Consent Manager system that enables the user to add consent controls to their website. When a visitor reaches the site, they are prompted to consent to various types of data processing. PIWIK Pro only collects particular types of data after consent has been provided.
PIWIK Pro’s pricing varies depending on the scale of data analysis.
A basic version of the platform is free to users tracking fewer than 500,000 actions per month, on a PIWIK Pro Core plan. There are some drawbacks to this plan; for instance, account data is retained for only 14 months, which limits your capability to analyse historical data.
To get the full version of PIWIK Pro, you’ll need to request a quote for an Enterprise plan, which reportedly starts at around $419 per month for a usage limit of 1mn actions.
Best for: giving you control of your data
Matomo is one of the longest-standing competitors to Google Analytics, having launched in 2007.
One of this platform’s key focuses is enabling account-holders to retain ownership of their own data. This is facilitated through two different versions of the platform: Matomo Cloud, which stores your analytics data securely at Matomo’s facility in Germany; and Matomo On-Premise, which gives account-holders who have enough technical knowhow the freedom to store their data using an on-site facility of their own choosing.
Both versions of Matomo Analytics give you essentially the same data analysis capabilities. There’s scope for very in-depth data analysis, in the form of heat map analysis, multivariate testing, funnels and cohort analysis. Of course, there’s also provision for more fundamental measurement of acquisition and behaviour.
Interestingly, Matoma Analytics comes with a GDPR Manager tool designed to help with regulatory compliance.
The price of Matomo Analytics depends on which version of the platform you use. Matomo On-Premise is free – although you should bear in mind that this option necessitates added costs for storing analytics data on your own servers.
Meanwhile, Matomo Cloud is billed at anywhere from £17/mo to £11,900/mo, depending on how many hits your website gets per month. Most account-holders will pay far closer to the minimum rate than the maximum.
If you’re not sure whether Matomo Analytics is right for you, you can sign up for a credit card-free, 21-day free trial.
Best for: one to watch on LinkedIn
Oribi isn’t currently available, but watch this space: the platform has been acquired by LinkedIn, and will “soon” be available for LinkedIn users and advertisers.
Prior to its acquisition, Oribi established itself as one of the most powerful and interesting alternatives to Google Analytics. As usual, the platform tracked activity on your website – such as clicks and loads.
But where Oribi stood out was in the creative ways it used your website data. One particularly useful tool was ‘Magic Events’, which were basically a mechanism for grouping multiple on-website actions as a single event. This was useful for assessing why website visitors behaved the way they did – so not only could we see that a visitor had converted into a customer; we could also see, at a glance, that they did some additional actions beforehand, which may have helped secure the conversion.
Another of Oribi’s strengths was funnel analysis. The platform allowed you to compare how visitors progressed through the sales funnel over different date ranges, helping you to identify the effects of changes you may have made to the website or how your marketing is targeted. It is not yet clear which Obiri features will be integrated into LinkedIn.
Oribi is currently unavailable, but it is slated to be made available to LinkedIn users and advertisers “soon”.
The addition of Oribi could make LinkedIn far more attractive as a marketing platform – especially if its functionalities are integrated into LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager dashboard.
How to choose the right analytics tool for you
The first factor to consider when choosing an analytics platform is price. There’s no point in considering a platform that you can’t afford.
One of the attractions of GA4 is that it’s free-to-use (unless you’re a very high-volume user). However, it’s important to bear in mind that when the platform is free, you are surely paying a price in other ways – for example, by giving Google ownership of data that comes from your website.
Thankfully, some of the best alternatives to GA4 are affordably priced – especially Fathom Analytics and Matomo. And if money is no object, you could go for a premium enterprise solution such as Adobe Analytics instead.
Once you’ve eliminated some possible GA4 alternatives due to price, you can select a platform based on your priorities. In which ways do you want to measure the performance of your website (or app), and how well does the analytics platform meet these needs?
You should also think about principles – especially concerning your visitors’ data privacy. Does the platform meet your customers’ expectations around safe handling of their data, respect for their online privacy and compliance with regulations such as the GDPR?
There are more than enough alternatives to GA4 that deliver the same benefits as Google Analytics – and sometimes additional benefits too. It’s just a case of finding the right platform for your business.