The 10 Smartest Web Analytics Tools

These tools offer an easy and inexpensive (sometimes free!) way to know everything about your website.
July 23, 2012

Trying to understand your Web visitors can be a bit, well, confusing. Each individual visitor brings his own set of data that has to be collected, measured, analyzed and reported. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, it can feel a bit like being handed a Rubik’s Cube.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there that can turn all of that collected information into an easy-to-understand report that gives you much-needed insight into your unique Web visitors. When you are armed with this knowledge, you get to see how effective your website is and what changes you need to make in order to make it even better.

Here are some of the top 10 tools that you can use to gain more understanding about your website traffic.

1. Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is one of the best free tools that any website owner can use to track and analyze data about Web traffic. You get to see what keywords are bringing the most visitors to your pages and what aspects of your designs are turning them off. This tool will generate a report for your website that includes information about visitors, traffic sources, goals, content and e-commerce. The downside of Google Analytics is that it can take time to update. (The real-time version is still in beta testing.) There are other tools that offer real-time updates of your data now.

2. Spring Metrics.

Spring Metrics has taken the analytics tool and made it simpler. You don’t have to be a professional data-miner to get the answers to your questions. You get real-time conversion analytics, top converting sources, keyword analytics, landing-page analysis, e-mail performance reports and simple point-and-click configuration. Unlike Google Analytics, Spring Metrics tracks a visitor’s path through your website from the time he landed to the time he left. All of this is included in Spring Metrics’ Standard Plan for $49 a month. When you first sign up, you get to try it free for 14 days. The simplicity of this tool has a lot of website owners switching over from Google Analytics.

3. Woopra.

Woopra is another tool that offers real-time analytics tracking, whereas Google Analytics can take hours to update. It is a desktop application that feeds you live visitor stats, including where they live, what pages they are on now, where they’ve been on your site and their Web browser. You also have the ability to chat live with individual site visitors. This can be a great feature for your e-commerce site to interact with customers. Woopra offers a limited freebie plan as well as several paid options.

4. Clicky.

Clicky also offers a free service if you have only one website and a Pro account for a monthly fee. You get real-time analytics, including Spy View, which lets you observe what current visitors are doing on your site. Clicky's dashboard is simple to use and presents all the information you want to see clearly. They also have a mobile version that makes it easy for you to check your stats anywhere.

5. Mint.

Mint is an analytics tool that is self-hosted and costs $30 per website. You get the benefit of real-time stats, which you don’t get with the free Google Analytics. You can track site visitors, where they are coming from and what pages they are viewing. And Peppermill, a part of Mint, lets you make any adjustments to make it more compatible for your use with tons of free add-ons.

6. Chartbeat.

Chartbeat lets users get the most from their data with instant information. They keep constant watch on your visitors and what they are doing on your website. This gives you the information you need in order to make the adjustments necessary to your content or design. You get a free month when you sign up and after that plans start at $9.95 per month.

7. Kissmetrics.

Kissmetrics is another analytics tool that allows clients to track the movements of individual visitors throughout their websites. You can see how behaviors change over time, identify patterns and see the most typical and recent referrers, among other stats. It offers a “Timeline View” of visitor activity in an easy-to-understand visual format. You can try this service free for 30 days. Plans start at $149 a month, depending on how many events are tracked.

8. UserTesting.

UserTesting.com is a unique way to gather information about site users. You are paying for a group of participants of your choosing to perform a set of tasks on your site. The user and his activity will be recorded on video. In about an hour, you will have your feedback. You get to hear the actual thoughts of users in your target demographic. The cost is $39 per participant you choose. You may choose anywhere from 1 to 100 testers.

9. Crazy Egg.

Crazy Egg uses the power of Heatmap technology to give you a visual picture of what site visitors are doing on your Web pages. It shows you where people are moving their mouse on the page and where they click. There is a link between where people put the mouse and where they are moving their eyes. So, this kind of tracking helps you see what areas are catching the most attention and interaction from users. There is a free one-month trial with this service, and prices start at $9 month for 10 Heatmaps.

10. Mouseflow.

Mouseflow is somewhat of a combination of UserTesting and Crazy Egg. You can see video of users interacting with your website, including every mouse click and movement, scrolling and keystrokes. You also get to view heat maps from different time periods so that you can see the effect of changes that you make on your page. Pricing varies depending on how many sites you want to cover and how many sessions you want. For a single site and up to 100 recorded sessions, there is no cost. Over that, prices start at $13 a month.

What analytics tools have you tried out for your website? What do you like best?

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.