As an online course creator, it’s incredibly important for me to see how my website is performing.
I’ve been using Google Analytics for the last 14 years since I started my first online business.
Back then, I didn’t even think about alternatives 🤷♂️
Everyone was, and mostly still is, talking about Google Analytics.
According to research, 85.8% of websites with a known analytics tool is using Google Analytics.
That’s insane 🤯
But this year, I decided to ditch them for a better alternative: Fathom Analytics.
- My issues with Google Analytics
- Switching to Fathom Analytics
Let’s dive in! 🚀
My issues with Google Analytics
First, let’s talk about some of the things I don’t like about Google Analytics.
This is a difficult topic, and I don’t know enough about it to go too in-depth into the subject.
But mostly, it’s important to realise that Google is an advertising company.
81.4% of their revenue came from advertising in 2021.
And they’re so incredibly successful at it because they use an tremendous amount of data to show the right ads to the right people.
So yes, Google Analytics is totally free to use for everyone.
But is it really truly free if they’re analysing & basically selling your data (and that of your visitors)?
Maybe you’ve heard of this quote:
If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.Andrew Lewis
And in some ways, that might be true for Google Analytics.
To me, it sounds a bit like they are able to offer it for free so they can use the data they collect from your website to show people more relevant ads.
I don’t know about you, but personally I go totally bananas over the trillion consent banners on nearly every website you visit.
Fun fact: cookie banners are often useless & not compliant because they already load cookies before you click ‘accept’ 🍪
Extremely overcomplicated 🤯
This is by biggest gripe with Google Analytics.
I’ve been using them for years, but I never really got much meaningful data out of it besides how many people visited my website.
But I’m not running a non-profit blog, and I want to know how my website is converting.
Converting people into email list subscribers.
And how it’s converting people into customers.
But tracking this with Google Analytics is so damn complicated.
I’ve set up all kinds of events & goals, but I still couldn’t answer simple questions like:
- How many people on this landing page entered their email address in a certain time period.
- How many people clicked the checkout button on the product page of one of my courses.
- How many people make a purchase on a checkout page.
- In my reviews, how many people click an affiliate link.
This data is probably buried somewhere in Google Analytics, but I can’t manage to quickly find it.
And every time I figure it out, they roll out a massive update & I have to learn it all over again 🤦♂️
Not 100% reliable
A lot of people have taken their privacy into their own hands.
About 42,7% of people have installed a browser plugin to block ads & third party cookies.
And while not all of them block Google Analytics, some of the most popular ones do it by default.
(good news: you probably have more visitors than you think! 😜)
Meaning, you can’t count those visitors and might not have a realistic view of how your website really is doing.
And that was why we use analytics in the first place, right!? 😅
Switching to Fathom Analytics
When I did my research for a Google Analytics alternative, I quickly settled for Fathom Analytics.
They’re privacy-focus, and super simple to use.
I started my trial, and the script was installed on the website within minutes.
Immediately, I felt zen with the clean looking dashboard:
It’s so simple, while still getting everything that matters.
You can also filter for certain pages, referrers, events, etc.
So while still having a clean overview, you can dive deeper to see what’s happening on a specific page.
Build for privacy
Privacy is not only important to be respectful towards your visitors.
But there are also more and more privacy laws, like the European GDPR.
Now that more and more European countries are banning Google Analytics, it might be important for you to switch.
With Fathom, they don’t use any cookies & all your traffic from the EU is automatically routed through European-owned infrastructure.
Features I love
Privacy is important, but I still want a good analytics tool.
Here’s some things I love most.
You can use Fathom for all your websites, and you can really easily switch between them or see them all at once in one neat overview.
Import all Google Analytics data
You don’t have to worry about loosing your historical data when switching.
There’s an importer that super simpel to use, and in a few clicks you’ve all your Google Analytics data into Fathom Analytics 🙂
Simple event tracking
Event tracking is handy if you want to know how many people click a button, fill out a form, make a purchase, etc.
And while I found this really overwhelming to setup with Google Analytics, it’s pretty easy with Fathom Analytics.
For example, a regular link on your website looks like this:
<a href="/about">About Us</a>
And with Fathom Analytics, you have to add a little piece of code so that it tracks each link click.
<a href="/about" onclick="fathom.trackGoal('YOUR-EVENT-ID', 0);">About Us</a>
Or, even easier, you can add an ID or CLASS to the links you want to track:
<a href="/about" id="about-us-link">About Us</a>
And then add some code to your website so that it tracks all links with that ID.
It maybe takes you a few minutes to figure out if you do it for the first time, but it’s very simple.
And after you’ve done that, it will show up in your dashboard like this:
Incredibly handy to see how your website, or a specific page is converting.
Reverse proxy to beat blockers
I mentioned earlier in this article that some ad blockers block tracking scripts.
While Fathom Analytics doesn’t collect personalized data, it’s still possible that the script gets blocked by browser plugins.
To prevent the script from being blocked, they allowed you to use a custom domain for it until May 2023.
Unfortunately, this approach proved ineffective, which is why they’re now working on a solution with reverse proxies to bypass ad-blockers.
Hohoho, don’t click away now, hear me out.
Yes, it’s not free.
But this allows them to be independent, they don’t have to sell your data to keep their business running.
Google is an advertising company, Fathom is a software company.
Luckily, it’s pretty affordable:
My websites aren’t coming anywhere near 100,000 page views per month (yet! 🤪), so I’m paying $14 per month right now.
If I’m still happy with them in a few months, I’ll probably switch to the yearly plan to get 2 months for free every year.
I personally don’t think Google is the most evil company on the internet.
I do enjoy using some of their products.
But there are some serious issues with data being collected (and used!) without the visitors knowing.
(often the website owner doesn’t even know how much data is collected, and where it ends up)
And while I’m very happy I’ve now addressed that.
The biggest benefit for me of switching is the simplicity of Fathom Analytics.
I can see everything in a glance, without the whole data overwhelm Google is throwing at me.
And based on that, I can make intentional decisions of how to make my website better 🕺
Spending money on an analytics tool was holding me back at first because I was used to getting it for free.
But the privacy & simplicity is well worth $14/month to me.
If this helped you decide to make the switch to Fathom Analytics, consider signing up with the link below to get $10 off your first invoice.
I get a small commission, at no extra cost to you, which helps me to make more helpful content like this 🙂
7-Day Free Trial • From $14/month
Fathom Analytics is a fantastic privacy-focused alternative to Google Analytics, which is simple to use so you can learn easier from your website visitors.
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