According to BuiltWith, as of this writing over 26,000,000 live websites use Google Analytics. It's a fantastic tool that offers us data about our websites - loads of it. All for free! (For most of us, anyway.) Which is great. But there's a problem. It needs to be analyzed, segmented, put into context, preferably with sensible visuals that we can understand. Not everyone has the time or the expertise.
Oh, if only it were this simple! :)
I love hopscotch. I don't love looking at free-ranging, untended Analytics data. Sure, there's a glimmer of insight here and there. That's the most popular page. That's the least popular page. Not particularly useful and certainly not something I would subject a boss or a client to. So what to do?
Find a really awesome tool, of course!
With that in mind, here are a few tools we like - all Google Analytics-pluggable, under $50/month, and designed for non-techies and non-experts. Each offer something a little different, and they are all free to try.
What it is/does: Retroactive funnel and segmentation analysis, landing page performance, microconversions, profit and ROI dashboard; generate reports from all.
I'm not convinced you can replace an expert human analyst, but PadiTrack is a pretty decent sub (or "the next best thing", as their tagline claims). PadiTrack will "slice and dice" your data - even your historical data - according to ad-hoc funnels you create. Let me say that again: your historical data. Google Analytics doesn't do that. So if you want to identify user bottlenecks quickly, definitely give this a try. Pricing is free to reasonable; a free account will give you unlimited access to the funnel conversion tool but access to other reports are demo-only and exports are not allowed.
PadiTrack conversion funnel screenshot. Click to enlarge.
What it is/does: fetches data from Google Analytics, AdWords and Webmaster Tools; responsive (device-friendly) reports based on customizable templates, widget library, scheduled report generation and email delivery, price plans per number of connections.
Megalytic advertises its product as "Analytics Reporting, Simplified." Creating a base report is easy: a couple of clicks and you've got an attractive report that is bound to be more insightful than anything that Google Analytics serves up by default. But don't stop there - Megalytic offers extensive customization options including filters and segmentation. Once your report is set up, you can have it regenerated and sent to your inbox on a schedule (say, as a monthly report). My only complaint is that it took some guesswork to figure out how to customize the reports once they were generated. (Hint: click the very-grayed-out-as-to-be-almost-invisible edit icon on the top left corner of each section of the report.) You can sign up for a free 14-day trial.
Update (2014-10-30): Megalytic has upped the contrast on their reports, making them easier to read. Plans prices have increased, but since all plans but Basic now include white labeling (used to be a $5 add-on) it isn't such a large jump (at least if you want white labeling). The reports themselves have a few new enhancements, which you can read about here.
Megalytic UI for creating reports. Click to enlarge.
#3. Supermetrics Data Grabber for Excel
What it is/does: Microsoft Excel add-on (no extra installation required), fetches data from Analytics, AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter; analyzes multiple web channels simultaneously; compares data from different time periods; creates charts and visualizations; can output to PowerPoint or PDF.
We didn't actually get to try this since we don't use Excel in our office, but Supermetrics Data Grabber for Excel immediately stood out because it provides something we didn't find elsewhere: support for analyzing multiple accounts simultaneously. There are lots of reasons why an organization might have several websites, each with its own UA- id. If yours does, and you want to see all of that data in one place, Supermetrics offers a 14-day free trial.
Google Analytics Report by Supermetrics Data Grabber. Click to enlarge.
#4. Supermetrics for Google Docs
What it is/does: Google Docs add-on (no extra installation required), fetches data from Google Analytics, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, AdWords, Bing Ads, Google Webmaster Tools; dynamic charts; one-click data refresh; share reports and dashboards.
It's not as robust as Supermetrics' Excel offering, but Supermetrics for Google Docs should excite anyone who wants to work with their reports right inside Google Docs office suite. Apparently it does much more than even Google's official add-on. And it's totally free - at least "for the time being", according to the product page. Set-up is easy; just install it as an add-on from an open document or spreadsheet and away you go.
Update (2014-10-30): This product now includes scheduled refreshing and emailing: you can set up a trigger that will refresh your data at a certain time and email the result.
Supermetrics for Google Docs screenshot. Click to enlarge.
What do you think? Did any of these tools help you? Come back and let us know.