Data is critical – that’s one of the fundamentals of marketing in the 21st century. The Mad Men age, when marketers and advertisers peered into the consumer collective unconscious and made decisions based on gut instinct, is over.
These days every marketing decision can and should be driven by data, by how website visitors behave and how they actually respond to marketing efforts. In fact, we now have the ability to collect so much data that marketers don’t even know what to do with it – hence the rise of so-called Big Data.
The importance of data – and how easily one can be overwhelmed by it – means that it’s essential to find data analytics software that works for your website. Webmasters face a difficult choice between two of the most popular options: Google Analytics and Adobe Sitecatalyst powered by Omniture.
Here’s a rundown of their pros and cons and a quick overview of the type of sites that would benefit most from each.
Google Analytics Pros
Google Analytics is free, which right off the bat makes it the better choice for most small businesses.
Google Analytics Cons
There is a limited amount of customization available. You can track custom variables, but only 5 of them, which means you more or less have to track the data that comes standard with Analytics.
Data is only available after a 24 hour time lag, so if it absolutely, positively has to be there as soon as it happens, Google Analytics probably isn’t the right software.
Omniture allows for an intense amount of customization, with the ability to create up to 75 traffic variables, 100 event variables, and 75 conversion variables. In other words, no data need go uncollected.
Omniture also offers data in real-time, making possible immediate data-informed responses to developing situations.
Omniture does cost money (exactly how much depends on each individual site), which means that it’s less than ideal for firms without large marketing budgets.
Also, Omniture is a little more difficult to implement as it requires more development-intensive work. This will likely require a dedicated staff with a certain amount of technical know-how.
Ultimately Omniture probably isn’t right for small to medium businesses, especially if an owner or employee not well versed in digital marketing is trying to handle the work of data analysis themselves. But for bigger sites, with larger budgets and knowledgeable staff, that really need the ability to segment their audience and track custom data, Omniture can be a godsend.
The best course of action for any site just getting into data collection is to implement Google Analytics first and become well-versed in everything it can do. If Google Analytics turns out to be inadequate, and there is specific essential data that it doesn’t allow you to track, then and only then should you upgrade to Omniture.