With the long-awaited (dreaded?) end of Google’s Universal Analytics (UGA) rapidly approaching, digital marketing professionals are frantically seeking alternatives.
UGA’s official replacement, GA4, is in the eyes of many a watered down, confusing, pale shadow of UGA. It’s tightly tied to Google Tag Manager (GTM), a system so convoluted and confusing that even Google’s own technical staff often struggle to make it work properly.
What to do? To be fair, GA4 covers the basics: traffic by source, top pages, comparisons by custom time periods, and conversion tracking (if you can get that to work). If GA4 will meet your needs going forward, great! But if not, here are several fee-based alternatives worth checking out.
UGA, GA4, and Privacy
But first, a quick note about privacy. Although Google Analytics is incredibly popular, used on 55% of all websites, it’s technically illegal in some European countries. Because of the way it was developed, UGA could never be made European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-compliant.
That’s a huge part of why Google developed GA4. Yet surprisingly, although GA4 is much more privacy-focused than UGA, it still isn’t fully GDPR-compliant, at least not without several manual tweaks. Which means those annoying cookie consent banners and popups will remain with us, on most sites, a while longer.
All of the alternatives below have stronger privacy protections built in.
Note that pricing models vary; all of the pricing listed below is based on tracking for multiple websites with combined limits of 150,000 visits / 75,000 visitors / 300,000 pageviews per month, just to create an apples-to-apples comparison. Your pricing will vary based on your traffic volume.
Capterra rating: 4.5 (117 reviews)
This is a fantastic tool for B2B SaaS and ecommerce sites, but isn’t simply a UGA replacement. While Google Analytics generally is focused primarily on how users get to your site, MixPanel goes in-depth on what users do once they are on your site.
In their own words, MixPanel is designed to let you “Slice and dice data to uncover trends and see live updates on how people are using your app.”
It integrates with a wide range of tools including Google Cloud, Marketo, HubSpot, and Mailchimp. If all you need is a simple UGA replacement, this tool will be overkill. But if you are looking for something more powerful in terms of understanding and guiding user behavior on your site or in your app, MixPanel is definitely worth checking out (their support is also excellent).
Price (based on the parameters above): $140 per month
Capterra rating: 4.8 (52 reviews)
Matomo is possibly the most similar straight-up replacement for the soon-to-be-gone UGA. Like UGA, it provides an incredible range of reports.
On the downside, there are a few “unknowns” listed in the comparison table below for Matomo because they didn’t provide answers for this post. May have just caught them on a bad day, but that’s not a good sign in terms of the responsiveness of their support.
Price: $129 per month
Capterra rating: 5.0 (6 reviews)
Plausible is a very nice tool that is in many ways similar to Matomo (fast loading, cookieless, privacy focused), yet also its opposite.
Basically—if you love all of the depth of Google Analytics, really getting into the weeds of the 100+ reports, then Matomo will probably be your thing.
On the other hand, if you really just want the basic functionality that is easy to use and covers pretty much everything you really need to know, then Plausible is a much simpler alternative that will likely appeal to you.
Want to dive a little deeper? Check out these head-to-head comparisons:
Matomo vs Google Analytics (from Matomo)
Matomo vs Plausible (from Matomo)
Plausible vs Google Analytics (from Plausible)
Plausible vs Matomo (from Plausible)
Price: $49 per month
Capterra rating: 4.3 (3 reviews)
For small to midsized B2B companies without complex visitor-site interaction needs, this may be the best option. It offers a bit more depth than Plausible (also an excellent choice, BTW) without the complexity of Matomo.
Most of the features Matomo offers that Fathom doesn’t are advanced analytics capabilities. If those are vital to you, Matomo may be a better choice. If not, save the money and go with Fathom.
The advantages of Fathom over UGA, from data retention and accuracy to speed, privacy, real-time reporting, and customer support are compelling. For companies without complex analytics needs, this definitely worth a look.
Price: $44 per month
Capterra rating: 4.7 (383 reviews)
In addition to most of the basics offered in all of the packages here, Visitor Analytics offers advanced features usually only found in platforms costing hundreds of dollars per month, including heat maps, session recordings, conversion funnels, polls, and pop-up surveys.
Compared to Google Analytics, Visitor Analytics offers the advanced features as noted above, plus much better privacy (GDPR compliance) and SEO features like keyword analysis and content ideas. The advantages are similar compared to Matomo.
One of the biggest advantages of Visitor Analytics over the other platforms here is visitor tracking, which it calls company reveal. A downside is that it doesn’t integrate with Google Search Console; if that’s on your must-have list, then Matomo, Plausible, or Fathom might be better alternatives.
Head-to-Head Comparisons of Google Analytics Alternatives
|Multi-site?||Yes(?)||Yes (up to 30)||Yes (up to 50)||Yes (up to 50)||Yes (25 to 100)|
|Pricing (150K visits / 75K visitors / 300K pageviews)||$140||$129||$49||$44||$82|
|Export to Excel||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|GSC Integration||Yes(?)||Yes||Yes||No (planned)||No|
|Historical Import from UGA||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Setup||one line of embed code per event to track||unknown||two lines of embed code||one line of embed code||depends upon account type|
|Traffic by source||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Traffic by channel (search, social, paid, email, etc.)||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Conversion tracking by source||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes(?)|
|Support||email and chat|
|IP exclusion||at individual level||unknown||sort of (it's complicated)||Yes||Yes|
|Engagement metrics (bounce rate, avg time, avg pageviews)||Yes||unknown||Yes||avg time and bounce rate||Yes|
|Mobile v Desktop||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Pageviews by area (e.g., all blog posts)||Yes(?)||unknown||Yes||Yes||No|
|Compare custom date ranges||Yes||unknown||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Paid vs Organic sources||Yes(?)||Yes(?)||if UTMs used||if UTMs used||if UTMs used|
|Data Retention||unlimited||24 months||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited|
A Note About Visitor Tracking
It’s great to know who is visiting your site, even at just the network level, e.g., “my site had seven visits from employees of JPMorgan Chase bank last month, who logged a total of 42 pageviews.”
Google Analytics used to provide that data, but stopped reporting visitors by network in February 2020. Out of privacy concerns, most of the tools above don’t provide visitor tracking.
IpMeta offers a free tool for this purpose which works quite well and integrates nicely with UGA. It also works with GA4, but unfortunately the implementation is much more complex and challenging due to Google Tag Manager.
GA Alternatives Not Covered
The vendors below are likely to show up in your research on GA alternatives. However, while these are all great products, none are straight-up GA replacements. They are designed for different purposes, as noted.
Reportei: This is a dashboard tool designed for agencies that serve B2C clients. If you run an agency and manage a ton of advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Pinterest, this is a great option. It also pulls in data from GA, GSC, and Google My Business (GMB) ads. But it’s not a UGA replacement.
Lucky Orange: This is an awesome tool (I’m an affiliate) for ecommerce sites and other marketers who need in-depth data on the behavior of website visitors, with features like pop-up surveys, heatmaps, live chat, and conversion funnels. It does also report some basic analytics. But again, it’s not a drop-in UGA replacement.
Heap: Among the products reviewed above, Heap is most similar to MixPanel (here’s how the two platforms compare according to MixPanel and Heap). It’s geared toward ecommerce and SaaS businesses, and popular in consumer financial services. It provides much richer engagement data than UGA, but isn’t a direct alternative, particularly in the B2B space.
Zoho Analytics: This is a self-service BI tool to help drive decision making. It pulls in data from an array of sources and displays consolidated dashboard metrics. Pricing is based on the number of rows of data to be analyzed, starting at 500,000 rows. It’s an intriguing tool for marketers with complex data analysis needs, but completely unlike the tools above.
Literally millions of businesses will be looking for solutions to fill the data gap left by the shutdown of UGA. What do you think about the tools reviewed above? What others would you add to the list? Why?