Transitioning from Web Trends to Google Analytics

Google Analytics is FREE. Web Trends can cost you as much as $20K per month. It’s no wonder that several clients have asked Delphic Sage recently – Can we successfully transition our Analytics from Web Trends to GA? What are the advantages/disadvantages of making the switch? Read more to find out which analytics package is right for you and the “cost” of switching vendors…

Analytics, whether it is website traffic, PPC, or social media, is a hot topic. As a matter of fact, Delphic Sage has written both a whitepaper and posted a video focused on Web Analytics. This blog post answers the specific question: Web Trends or Google Analytics? Given that the answer can save your company upwards of $20K per month, we think it’s a good question to ask yourself.

Web Trends is a great analytics tool because it allows you to track by individual user.

For e-commerce sites or sites that target many audiences and do A/B testing – Web Trends is a great analytics package because you can track each individual user from start to finish to analyze their pattern through your site. This allows you to do testing of content, segment your customers and customize your pages. Other services such as Google Analytics only reports on visitor trends.

Most companies don’t need Web Trends.

Sounds great, right? Why would I drop Web Trends? Well, because most companies do not need to track individual users. Most companies only scrape the surface of their analytics packages. Most companies only want to see top visited pages, top exit pages, top visitor trends. If you are most companies, than a robust IP address tracking system offers you to much information. Unless you are prepared to customize your site to different audience groups, meaning a whole new landing page based on demographics or psychographics, than Web Trends isn’t worth the money.

So now what? If you’ve decided to drop Web Trends and use Google Analytics, there are 2 things you must know. 1) You’re going to lose your historical data. There is no way to convert your existing Web Trends data into GA. 2) Your numbers are not going to match. Let’s find out why.

All visitors are not created equal.

How a visitor is identified:
A visitor is identified by IP address and user agent (ie, Firefox or IE6) by all programs including Google Analytics, except for Web Trends, which uses a cookie. It will not be perfectly accurate, as you could quite possibly have shared IP addresses, say corporate firewalls or AOL users which have the same type of user agent AND share the IP-thus DEFLATING your numbers.

It is also notable that bots will show as visitors for Web Trends. Google Analytics automatically discards bots, but the others would incorporate them into visitor numbers. However, there will be discrepancies among Web Trends bots displayed because they don’t use a centralized list of bots. This is confusing because they do report on bots separately, so you would assume, incorrectly, that the bots have been pulled out of visitor reports. You can spot bots in your visitors because they will show a strangely named user agent and their time of visit will be sub 1 minute, more often than not.

Length of visit:
The universal standard for a visitor session is 30 minutes. At 30 minutes and 1 second on site, that becomes another visit, thus one visitor can be 2 visits. In some cases, it could be more if a visitor is on your site for a long period of time. Web Trends allows you to define the length of visitor session, Google analytics uses 30 minutes and are NOT adjustable. So depending on your customized settings in Web Trends, your numbers could be inflated. (Example: Visit counts as 15 minutes in Web Trends compared to 30 minutes in Google Analytics)

Logfile vs. web-based system:
Google Analytics will NOT display admin pages or login protected results whereas a log file based program (Web Trends) would, also causing inflated numbers in Web Trends.


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