If you're a marketer or product owner, you've probably asked these questions about your site analytics and user behavior:
- "I need to see how my site is performing."
- "Where are people dropping off?"
- "How do I see how returning visitors behave vs new visitors?"
- "How are my campaign visitors behaving vs direct traffic?"
Then, some brave soul will respond, "We can figure that out with our GA!"
Before you get out the ticker-tape, there's some trouble with that. The moment actual user behavior is in the conversation, Google Analytics has some major blindspots .
Even if your team is full of self-styled growth-hacking Google Analytics ninja gurus, here are five use cases where GA just doesn't cut it:
When you have a lot of in-page events
Google Analytics does a great job of providing page view and simple site pathing information. Today, in-page interactions are increasingly critical pieces of the conversion puzzle. GA requires you to manually set up custom events for any in-page interactions. Those interactions often get overlooked as possible triggers or detractors in any given experience. If you're a team that iterates often, any future in-page changes will require that manual touch as well.
When you need a complete dataset
GA doesn't give you the full picture. If queries or exports exceed the oft-unclear data limit, GA generates sample data (i.e. guesses) based on your real data to answer them. If you want a more granular view based on actual, detailed data and behaviors, you might be missing critical information. You need an actual data set in order to get actual answers. Small details or differences in user behavior may offer insight that a broad guess can't. When individual data points are missing in a sample data set, it can skew your results and taint your decision-making.
When you need to map your site or experience to a funnel
Most of us have used Google Analytics' behavioral pathing tool, but how often does it neatly map to your real-life funnel? With GA, you can see movement across pages, but you can't compare deviations from expected behavior. You also can't see micro diversions unrelated to how a user navigates the page. Each interaction and event matters to your funnel. If Google's pathing tool can't show you something as critical as a user half-completing a form.
When you need to know if something is causing frustration
If a user is only half-completing a form, you need to know why. If a page or particular place on your site experiences exceptionally high drop-off, GA can tell you the "what" but not the "why." GA can't help you identify dead clicks, frustration behavior or dev errors that may be causing drop-off. You can only fix a problem you can see. Identifying and addressing easy-fixes more efficiently can free up your team's time so they can tackle tougher problems.
When you are considering conversion rate optimization as a solution
We're an agency that tackles tough, thorny challenges all day, every day. That said, the thought of a client wanting to improve conversion rates with only GA in their toolkit scares the bajeezus out of us. You just can't see historic behavior with the clarity needed to make informed decisions. We can certainly see particularly gaping funnel gaps with GA, but those are often symptoms of subtler, more insidious issues lurking in granular user behavior data. Using GA by itself is basically patchworking a solution with spit, baling wire and prayer. The results of which can be particularly costly and painful for everyone involved.
But don't lose hope...
There are solutions out there to solve your data woes. At Mighty & True, for instance, we rely heavily on our partner FullStory. Their solution can fill in gaps left by GA. With the visibility they provide, we are able to expedite decision making and help clients solve problems faster.