Pros and Cons of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is by far the most-used business intelligence and analytics tool among the Stacklist community, with nearly 50% of our users putting the platform to work. Google Analytics certainly has a lot going for it, including the fact that it’s free! In fact, it ranks as our top free BI tool, though startups can upgrade to Google Analytics’ premium version, which has a much broader range of data points and segmenting capabilities, for a mere $150,000 per year (very few of our respondents have taken advantage of that stellar offer).

Which startups use Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is most popular among seed and series A startups because its price point and depth of analytics services seem to be just the ticket for early-stage companies. Though it continues to be used by startups of all sizes, later-stage startups tend to turn toward more sophisticated tools (often used in concert with Google Analytics) that afford them deeper analytics and a platform that is more customizable to their particular business.

Why do startups love Google Analytics?
Stacklist startups certainly have a lot to say about Google Analytics, and aren’t shy about singing its praises for early-stage startups.
  • “The nice thing about GA is that we have multiple platforms, and it gives us a holistic view of our data across all of them.” (Jesse Boyes, co-founder of Dasher)
  • “Up until now, Google Analytics has been sufficient for us, and it's super easy to hook up. In the early stages, GA is the way to go, and then your needs tend to become more sophisticated.” (Brian Fitzgerald, founder/CEO of Tinkergarten)
  • “It's pretty seamlessly integrated into our web development, and it also links into all of the other Google services we use.” (Tim Dingman, founder/CEO of Castle)
  • Google Analytics is fast and easy, with tons of documentation.” (Henry Finkelstein, founder of Green Peak Labs)
  • “It’s a simple and straightforward way to track and review website data and performance. Although it may require some education/training on how to use it or set it up, it’s simple to get up to speed.” (Victoria Kimura, Director of Operations at Inxent, Inc)

What are the downsides to Google Analytics?
GA’s biggest drawback is that it’s not detailed or customized enough to handle many of the needs of a growing company--a fact that doesn’t stop most startups from using it because they see value in its baseline data (and, did we mention its price point?). Instead, they simply use it in conjunction with other BI and analytics tools, or add their own custom dashboards to gather the data they need. Over 60% of Stacklist’s Google Analytics users find this to be the best approach, though it can take some trial and error to find the optimal solution.

According to Rob Grossberg, CEO of TreSensa, Google Analytics is great for a lot of the baseline data points/general information, but it does fall short when it comes to some of the deeper game analytics, such as ease of tracking where, within a game, a user drops off, which levels, etc. Mixpanel picks up and fills in a lot of the focused, deeper game mechanics. They complement each other well.” Nihal Parthasarathi, founder of CourseHorse, agrees, explaining, “Google Analytics with high level of customization gets us most of the way there.” Tools that are most commonly paired with Google Anaytics include Kissmetrics, Mixpanel, Optimizely, Looker and Chartbeat.

While Google Analytics may not be perfect, it’s certainly a must for any seed-stage startup. It’s even beneficial for later-stage startups who appreciate it for its baseline data, but supplement it with additional tools or custom dashboards to collect the data that’s most relevant to their growing businesses.