Let’s face it, free is a great price point and the free version of Google Analytics is a great product. In fact, there are numerous multi-nationals using Google Analytics – not because they can’t afford a paid-for tool, but simply because is it good.
So why use a paid-for tool? A client considering GA Premium (the paid-for version of Google Analytics) asked me the following question about cost recently:
“One thing that would be great to cover in our meeting, is the value of the Premium product for us. How will it save us money by spending $150k a year instead of simply adjusting our approach and using the free product?”
That’s a great question – getting right to the point of cost versus value for money. This is my two-point response that can be applied to any paid-for vendor…
(fyi: Premium cost: $150k USD, €105k euros, or £90k GBP per year)
Point 1: Don’t upgrade to a paid solution unless you have RESOURCE
If analysis is going to be someone’s full-time job – that is, working on bringing insights to the business on a day-to-day basis, then consider Premium as the right tool (even more so if there is a team of people involved). On the other hand, if the investment in analysis is only part-time, say 1 day per week, I would recommend sticking to the free product.
Why is staffing so important?
Spending 1-2 days per week analysing your reports will not allow you to explore all the capabilities of the Premium product at any depth. You would be constantly scratching the surface without the time to go deep. Of course you could still hire a us to do the deep-dive stuff with the free version. However, if you have a popular website (say more than 10m pageviews per month), then sampling, data freshness and data retention are going to be important areas that will limit how deep we can go. These are Premium features.
BC RULE #1
If you cannot commit 1 full-time analyst, do not pay for an analytics tool.
Point 2: Calculate your website VALUE and ensure you get a return
Calculating the value of your website is straightforward when you are tracking transactions – you get its total value plotted over time and the value of each page and the value of each visitor – broken down by referrer source and campaign etc. – automatically calculated for you by Google Analytics.
If you are a lead generation/content website (the vast majority of enterprise websites are not e-commerce), then value is much harder to calculate. In fact, I rarely see the calculation even attempted. However, monetising your non-transactional site is critical to your success. Without it, and there is a serious danger your website is just a pet project – nice to have, but not treated as a serious part of the business. Hence $150k per year for a measurement tool is never going to see the light of day in your organisation – and rightly so – unless you can put a monetary value on it.
As Jim Sterne would say:
“You need to calculate the ROI of measuring your ROI…“
Monetising conversion processes are the most important part of a analyst’s job role…
I have discussed in detail the monetisation of non-transactional websites in my books. Its not rocket science, but does require time and energy to logically think through and identify your website’s goals (aka: Call to Actions) and assign values to them.
At the end of the day, only something that impacts the business bottom line is going to receive investment – be that extra people or budget for your team. Therefore, monetisation is a key step to understanding what resource and therefore what measurement tools are appropriate to invest in.
Here’s an example:
If your conversion funnel (e-commerce or not) is a $10 million per year revenue generator for you, $150k is of the order of 1-2% of that revenue. If GA Premium can help you improve your conversion rate by a mere 1-2% it will have paid for itself.
Putting this into perspective:
- If your lead generating form (new sales enquiry) has an “industry average” conversion rate of 3.00%
- and your sales team is able to convert 1 in 10 leads to a customer (this is a fixed conversion rate)
- Then improving your site content and/or its marketing so that the lead generation form converts at 3.06% will pay for your GA Premium account!
Is that achievable for your website? I would say that is achievable for *ANY* website.
If your conversion funnel generates $1 million per year, then you would need to improve your conversion rate to 3.6% to achieve the same pay off. That is still very attainable in my experience, just harder. I therefore consider this as the Tipping Point for your investment…
BC RULE #2
If your website is not contributing at least $1m USD per year to your business, do not pay for a web analytics tool.
Hopefully this puts paid-for web analytic tools such as Google Analytics Premium into perspective when it comes to value for money. BTW, for the difference in data limits of free versus Premium, read this post from me: Google Analytics Limits – a reference guide.
I would love to hear your thoughts on paying for a data collection/reporting tool? [ This article was originally written by me on November 2011 – when GA Premium launched ]
Disclaimer: My company is an authorised Google Analytics Premium reseller. If you want to work with me on Premium, please contact search-integration.com