The esteemed reader may have read the title of this article a little distracted. For this reason I will resume it, so that there is no doubt: “Analytics tools: 5 reasons for NOT using them”. It may sound strange from an analytics consultant, but I'll explain.
- What are analytics tools?
- Reasons for not using analytics tools
We are in an era data driven where most decisions are based on data. To suggest that a website can operate without analytics information seems insane. Really? Can a website or online store benefit from not using analytics tools?
What are analytics tools?
First of all, notice that I'm going to deal with web analytics tools but the idea also applies to offline.
Second, I'm not just referring to Google Analytics (the most widely used analytics tool in the world), but all the web analytics tools (Adobe Analytics, Yandex, Matomo, Hotjar, cxense, etc.).
So, what are analytics tools?
Analytics tools are systems that aim to measure, collect, analyze and produce navigation and visitor behavior reports on your website or application.
You will find much more complete (and complex) definitions, but for the rest of this article the definition I have presented is sufficient.
Most organizations use more than one analytics tool. Together, these tools give the organization a complete view of the company providing insights and understanding of the business. Thus, smarter decisions can be made regarding business operations, customer conversions and more.
Reasons for not using analytics tools
Now you may be asking yourself questions like "how can data be bad?", "How am I going to make decisions if I don't have data?" or, at best, “how can I make my business successful without analytics data?”
You see, I'm not saying that we shouldn't collect data from visitors or that data is bad. Occurs that, in some cases, it may be better not to use analytics tools.
In some organizations, the use of analytics tools can generate so much noise, due to the reasons that I will explain in the sequence, that it can be advantageous not to use them.
So let's look at 5 reasons for not using analytics tools.
In God we trust. All others must bring data.W. Edwards Deming
The above sentence (much used by agencies and consultants) would be more appropriate in this way:
In God we trust. All others must bring good date.
In most of my Google Analytics audits (separate or initial audit of the analytics consulting) I encounter configuration problems, incorrect handling and data manipulation, etc.
What kind of insight or decision will an organization's management make that its data is (only) 50% reliable?
If the data you receive from your analytics tools is 50% correct (or 50% incorrect), your margin of accuracy may not be very good. Why use analytics tools to make a decision that will have the same chance of being correct as if it were decided on a heads or tails?
Obviously, this is a transitory situation that is corrected during the consultation. Even so, it serves as a warning for organizations that have their internal analytics operations in place or that have not had due advice.
If your organization cannot guarantee a minimum level of data reliability, it is preferable to save resources with this operation.
Troubleshooting bad data
Conduct periodic audits on all your analytics tools or hire a consultancy to do so. If you have an in-house data analysis team, make sure they are properly trained to identify whether the data available is good or bad. Reliability 80% is a good starting point.
Read too: "Google Analytics mini audit“
Decisions based on guesswork
Ok. You and your team did an excellent job and your data has an adequate level of reliability. When presented to decision makers, they are simply ignored or “lose” to a (more beautiful) presentation made in Power Point and with greater convincing (aesthetic) power.
Run! If your analyzes are reliable but never used in the organization's strategic decisions, rethink your performance.
I know companies that have complete analytics / BI teams that have always lost to a colorful presentation with 3D graphics from someone in the commercial.
If guesswork is the mechanism for decision making in your company, why waste resources (time and money) with tools and data analysis?
Combating guess-based decisions
Make a more colorful presentation with more 3D elements and animations than the sales department.
Nooooooooo !!! Just kidding, don't join this war. Commercial staff generally have plenty of time to make more elaborate presentations.
Talking serious. Create a connection with management, present the methodology, show the results in a way that cause and effect are clear and tangible. Focus on results and keep track of relevant information.
Organizations that are already in agreement with the GDPR (and in Brazil soon with the LGPD) know how hard it is to do the implementation, collection and treatment of data correctly.
I am in favor of collecting, processing and analyzing data, if done correctly. If the user says he doesn't want to be tracked, don't track him. Do not use hacks or anything to collect browsing data without consent. It is immoral and unethical.
Since I mentioned it, I'm going to talk a little bit about data sampling. Data sampling is nothing more than a sampling of data. Google Analytics is king in this regard (mainly in the free version). Not that other tools don't, but GA is the best known and for sites with high traffic sampling can be relevant (and bothersome).
That is, if in order to comply with privacy requirements you must give up a significant amount of data (quantitative and qualitative) it may make sense that you do not collect it in the first place.
Using analytics and maintaining user privacy
Be transparent and offer the option for your visitor to accept or not the tracking. Do not capture personal or sensitive data that could in any way identify the visitor and do not share data with third parties.
If a sample of the data is sufficient, work smart. If you have a paywall and understanding subscriber behavior is sufficient for business decisions, why capture information from all users (subscribers and non-subscribers)?
I have already audited sites that fired multiple Google Analytics tags, Facebook pixels, LinkedIn pixels, cxense / Piano, Yandex, Hotjar, Crazyegg, etc. However optimized the implementation of these tags is, there will still be an impact on the page loading and we will be affecting the visitor experience.
If you're not using Facebook analytics or creating targeted audiences, why have a Facebook pixel on your website? Why use Hotjar and Crazyegg at the same time if the only functionality of the tools you are using may be obtained by Google Analytics?
There are cases where the poor performance of analytics implementations can double the page load time. If you have e-commerce, every second matters. I venture to say that some virtual stores could increase their revenue by 20-30% if they didn't use analytics tools.
How would that happen? Offering a better user experience, offering privacy and security, better analyzing the sales made.
Solving the performance problem
Avoid carrying analytics tools that will not contribute relevant data to your business. Use essential settings and optimally.
Lack of understanding of the analytics tool
Many organizations invest large amounts in analytics tools. However, a good part does not have professionals capable of using these tools and providing insights for good decision making.
It is common for companies to look at metrics that are irrelevant to the business or wrong.
Read too: "Digital Marketing Metrics: Which Are Important?“
And if we go into more advanced topics like attribution models, assisted conversions or measurement models, the business gets even more complicated.
Analytics tools should not only serve to generate reports and feed dashboards.
Analytics tools must answer business questions.
Read too: "10 SEO Tools Every Website Should Use“
Understanding analytics tools
Invest not only in tools but also in team building. Hire professionals (internal or outsourced) that can extract information relevant to the organization.
Free analytics tools, such as GA itself, can be used and generate insights for all types and sizes of organizations. Invest in the correct configuration of these tools and make the most of them before hiring tools at a high cost.
Analytics tools can contribute to the success or failure of an organization.
Those that do not get good data, make decisions based on opinions, do not respect user privacy, have performance problems or do not understand the operation and data generated may consider stop using them.
If you're not going to use data to improve your organization, save time and money.
Those who have any of these problems but want data to provide insights should consider correcting these aspects.