Website analytics is an effective way for platforms to improve their website and meet the needs of consumers. You don’t have to be an experienced major enterprise to get the most out of web analytics tools. There is an array of free tools that offer simple key metrics for you to grow your business and revolutionize user experience. We discuss the different free analytics software available to startups and small businesses.
What is Web Analytics?
Web analytics is the analysis of your web traffic data. Website owners are able to use web analytics software to learn their website performance. You can also use these tools for data collection as well as for analyzing visitor behavior. This information helps give teams and companies an important glimpse into customer behavior.
That perspective can be the difference between an ad campaign that flourishes or bombs. Your landing page could be super hard to navigate or your color scheme could be too abrasive and you won’t know that without data or testing.
Most commercial platforms use website data so they can meet business goals or update their search engine optimization (SEO). When platforms refresh their SEO it can refresh their online presence. The website can bring up its ranking on the first pages of search engine results and become far more visible to its target audience.
Want to learn more? Click here to read our piece “What is Web Analytics?”
A web analysis tool can be suited for things like keyword research as well. A potential reason your page has an abnormally high bounce rate can be the wrong keywords for the content. If the keywords don’t match what your visitors actually want you or they don’t match what you have to offer, they will leave the page.
You can improve your content by experimenting with keywords and finding the ones that yield the best result. When you have more relevant keywords then you can improve your online visibility on social media sites and review platforms. When your brand keywords are more accurate you can increase web traffic. Content refreshes can allow older pieces to stay fresh, as you update to a changing keyword environment.
Web analytics solutions are designed for tracking only valuable metrics. Key metrics, also referred to as performance indicators (KPIs), are how companies measure actual performance according to business goals. A key metric could be the initial number of visitors to your landing page just as it can the bounce rate on your checkout page.
There are even website analytics tools that can also help you with testing changes in your website. One popular method is A/B testing of different web pages with users. This kind of testing also doubles as a way to optimize the accessibility and usability of your site for end-users
Improving your accessibility and usability can mean changing pages or functionality on your site. One way to do this is to try out a simpler version of a page, such as a simplified checkout page. Your A/B testing could reveal the simpler one has more conversions which means some users may have been struggling to navigate the old page. You can retain users and bring former ones back when you update your site UI to keep up with changing needs.
The table below shows some examples of features and metrics many website analytics platforms can offer to upgrade your site. Some terms are the key metrics you will absolutely need and others are services that are considered more premium-like heatmaps.
|Conversion Rate||Bounce Rate||Retention||Click-Through Rate (CTR)|
|The conversion rate is your total conversion divided by the number of website visitors.|
Conversion / # of visitors = conversion rate
|The bounce rate is the percentage of users who leave after visiting a single page.Single-page sessions / total sessions = bounce rate||Visitor retention metrics are usually presented as a retention report that shows unique visitors who returned at least once.||The number of times your ad is clicked is divided by the number of times your ad is seen (called an impression).|
Clicks/impressions = CTR
|Average Time on Single Page||Referrals||Heatmaps||A/B Testing|
|The amount of time all users spend on each web page averaged.||Referral traffic comes from another site that has an outbound link to yours.||A session recording that shows where users spend the most time scrolling and clicking in the UI.||Tests two versions of a web page with users.|
Some of these metrics might not be offered in a free plan. The next section goes over the different options in each free subscription.
What Are The Best Free Web Analytics Tools?
When it comes to free tools and subscriptions there are going to be some significant limits along with some powerful capabilities. This makes it important to choose what fits your team the best rather than the one that’s the most popular or has the most features.
The main limits you will see are seat caps for users and caps on the number of tracked visitors. Some limit the types of metrics like A/B testing or funnels. The majority of the software on the list is geared toward eCommerce and digital marketing platforms.
For these tools, we are only discussing the free plans the platform offers. If you are interested in the other plans you can follow the link in the tables to the direct pricing. There will also be links to their TrustRadius pages where you can see reviews and their alternatives.
Special Note: Google Analytics free version (aka Universal Analytics) is switching to Google Analytics 4 July 1st, 2022. In this section, we’re just talking about Google Analytics and Google Analytics 360. This is because there aren’t too many users of the new version yet and the main difference is Google Analytics 4 is just a faster, better version with updated machine learning and smoother integrations. For more information about Google Analytics 4 go here.
When you do switch over that does mean some setup on your part. The instructions for Google Analytics 4 setup you can find here. There will be a new version of Google Analytics 360 as well but it’s not available right now. Anyone can switch to Google Analytics 4 early before July.
Google Analytics consumes half the entire web analytics market. This is no exaggeration. They’re reported to make up about 49.58% of the entire web analytics market share. For most eCommerce and marketing platforms, they are the standard.
There are industries around using and getting the most out of Google Analytics. Business and technology blogs create resources and guides about teaching how to use Google Analytics.
The Google Analytics software offers a wide range of simple analytics that can save the budget of any team.
|Google Analytics||Free||Google Analytics 360|
|Cost||$0||*Reported to be 150,000 per year.|
Google Analytics allows users to have real-time data reporting, attribution, funnel exploration, and smooth integration with Google Ads. The software even allows you to use them with the mobile app for your virtual platforms.
Google Analytics Pros
The metrics are described as simple and basic but they really do pack a punch. The reason that they monopolize half the market is that teams can go far with the data collected and reported. The tool has automation, predictive analytics, and diverse reporting, and is perfect for teams in the Google workspace.
Google Analytics Cons
Google analytics keeps the data they get from your website visitors, which can be problematic for some companies. . This can especially feel ethically compromising for companies that value their customer’s privacy.
Another problem is if you want their more advanced subscription, Google Analytics 360, reported costs are over 100,000 a year. That is certainly not budget-friendly. This is why many use other software along with Google Analytics such as Hotjar so you can have heatmaps.
For a quick run-through of how Google Analytics works, there is a beginner introduction available below.
Matomo is an open-source web analytics platform formerly called Piwik. There are not a lot of web analytics tools like them. Open-source software allows small teams far freedom and power over their data collection all without breaking the bank.
The only real main problem teams will have with this type of solution is if your team has no tech-savvy that can set up the software and maintain it on the server. Motomo will say you need someone that can set it up on your own server but it’s also very important that you have someone to handle the maintenance that comes with open-source software.
Motomo offers both their On-Premise (downloadable version) and their Cloud version hosted on their server. The download is free while the cloud version is a paid subscription.
|Cost||Free to Download||No upfront pricing until free trial ends|
The On-Premise choice allows unlimited websites, users, visitor segmentation, and raw data retention. You can save all report data and import data from Google Analytics.
You don’t have to worry about data retention or exporting because you own all your data. There may not be a plethora of features but you do have a lot of control including a GDPR manager. It’s yours forever and you can use it with whatever tools you want.
The main drawback to the open-source version is that add-ons do cost an extra fee and require a subscription (for just the add-ons, you are not buying the entire cloud version). These additional features include metrics for site media, A/B testing, heatmaps, funnels, and cohorts. Features like those are pretty important and range from $89 to $229 a year.
The open-source version doesn’t come stacked but it’s certainly worth it if you plan to use other tools like Google Analytics with it. One of Matomo’s main arguments is that Google Analytics isn’t ethical with visitor data whereas with Matomo you have the option to be more ethical. Despite this, Matomo still comes with a Google Analytics importer.
Below is a quick introduction to Matomo so you can see the UI and how it’s used.
Smartlook is a web analytics platform centered around the customer journey. They offer data customizations for analyzing user behavior. They collect data by recording sessions and heatmaps. The software is predominantly used by small companies with 73% classified as small businesses. All plans have GDPR compliance.
The Free subscription allows 1,500 tracked sessions, 1 month of data retention, and 3 heatmaps. They also include the metrics on 2 events, and let you build 1 funnel per month.
Free Plan Pros
The plan is functional but very bare-bones. You would use this plan if you were just starting out and were worried about budgeting. Smartlook recommends the plan for personal use which generally means bloggers, or individual sellers, and very small teams.
Free Plan Cons
You won’t have access to any customer support, integrations, or advanced features. A larger team would struggle with the limited metrics and storage. It would also be more useful to pair with another free option like Google Analytics or Motomo’s On-Premise version.
Below is a run-through of how Smartlook works and a peek at their UI.
Hotjar is not necessarily considered a web analytics platform but they offer incredibly important metrics on your site’s visitors. They are an analytics platform that records and measures user behavior. Their insights can provide information for product growth and marketing strategies. They collect data using heatmaps and user sessions. One huge benefit is there are no user seat limits.
|Cost||$0||$31/annually, $39/monthly||$79/annually, $99/monthly||Custom Plan|
For Basic you are limited to 35 daily sessions and 1,050 sessions a month. You also have access to unlimited heatmaps, 1-year data storage, and almost all dashboard features excluding segmentation. Teams can also create up to 3 surveys a month to collect user feedback.
Basic Plan Pros
With this plan, you can export heatmaps in the free version which is rare since most analytics tools limit data exporting. Startups and small businesses with bigger teams will greatly benefit from unlimited user seats.
Your research and analytics teams will be able to work with powerful data pulled from unlimited heatmaps. This plan may limit some metrics but you will still be able to access important behavioral data to learn what works and doesn’t work on your web platform.
Basic Plan Cons
With the Basic plan there aren’t too many advanced features like special filters and integrations. This is still a pretty strong free tool for a small team especially if you were using it in tandem with another free tool like Google Analytics. Most free plans won’t have heatmaps from session recordings, so using Hotjar with any of your other web analytics tools can be an amazing way to build customer profiles.
Below is a product tour of Hotjar.
Mixpanel is a web analytics platform that specializes in offering features for monitoring user behavior. You are provided with the necessary metrics to increase overall interaction and long-term customer retention.
Through reports and simple data, the software aims to answer your main questions about visitors. The solution designed its UI to be beginner-friendly for non-data analysts or for those inexperienced. It allows you to create cohorts and conversion funnels without knowing SQL code.
One major benefit is their subscriptions don’t have any seat limits. This is particularly useful software for big teams that want to save on their budget. You would be able to have more than one team working with your visitor insights. This doesn’t mean they are perfect because they do limit the number of tracked users per plan. For any early stage startup, they offer a free version of Growth for one year. You can find out more about how to qualify here.
|Cost||$0||Starting at $25/mo||Contact Sales|
The Free tier starts you out with unlimited data history, core reports, and data monitoring with alerts. They collect data for 100K users a month. This is a pretty high sample size for a freemium version.
Free Plan Pros
The Free plan is great for low budgets that want a lot of website traffic data to work with. Metrics wise it’s functional but not in-depth. This is not your best choice if you are a bigger company and need more complex metrics for projects, marketing, and to make necessary changes to your site.
Free Plan Cons
The main limitation of this subscription is there’s no advanced analysis like segmentation. They also limit your access to data modeling, and exporting, and allow only 5 saved reports per team member. There are limited admin controls and offer no compliance options (HIPAA), or support aside from access to the community.
You need to know that Growth appears to be affordable at $25 but it’s actually customizable. This means the starting price is unlikely going to be your price. If you choose 100K tracked users the cost will be around $9,999 a month. The Free plan already comes with 100K monthly tracked users but without the advanced features in Growth.
If you want to save on your budget we recommend going with another platform or pairing Mixpanels’s Free plan with any of the other freemium options on this list.
For an overview of what it’s like to use Mixpanel see the demo below.
Woopra is a platform that builds profiles on your site visitors. They are customer journey-focused so marketing teams can learn more about their consumers. They offer a few different subscription options including a free plan.
All of Woopra’s plans have limits on the number of actions your team is allotted each month. They define actions as a tracked event in or with the software. This means things like page views, downloads, or any customizations. The number of user seats for your team is also limited for each plan.
The Core plan is a great choice for beginners or any team that wants to experience the platform before purchasing one of their more substantial plans. In Core, you get 90-day data retention, 500K actions, and 10 user seats.
Core Plan Pros
The main benefits of the plan are customer journey data on each user and over 30 available integrations allowed. It also compiles profiles for users and audience segmentation.
This is a great starting plan for a small team that wants to work on targeting their ideal customers. Whether you are researching relevant demographics or building marketing campaigns this data will be especially valuable.
Core Plan Pros
The subscription won’t get a large team very far. The metrics are not advanced and the seat limits won’t work if you have more than one team using the software. The paid plans have more reporting options like cohorts and attribution. They also allow more complex data options and deeper analysis of unique visitor profiles. The 500K limit on actions a month will also be hard in a team environment.
The unfortunate part is the next plan jumps to $349 a month which is not very budget-friendly at all. If your main goal for your team is to save money on software then Woopra’s paid plan isn’t the best choice. You can pair their Core plan with other freemium options on this list such as Google Analytics or Hotjar.
For a quick look at how Woopra works see the intro below.
Clicky is a web analytics platform dedicated to user privacy and maintaining General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. GDPR is a law by the EU to protect data privacy. Clicky offers identifying data on your site visitors like IP addresses and the names of groups and companies. The plans are limited by page views and the number of websites you can track. The paid plans offer both yearly and monthly pricing.
|Clicky||Free||Pro||Pro Plus||Pro Platinum||Custom|
Clicky’s Free subscription comes with 1 website and 3,000 daily page views. For metrics, the plan allows access to basic data. You can view unique visitors and their actions in your customizable dashboard along with all corresponding real-time data. You even have customer segmentation and the ability to add widgets and APIs.
Free Plan Pros
This is a great choice for small teams that need analytics data with more in-depth details on your consumers. You would be able to use these metrics to grow your audience and meet their needs even better.
This is also the best ethical choice for startups on a budget that don’t want to default to just using Google Analytics. Google Analytics does not show you individual user data while using that information for themselves. With Clicky, you can see your user’s data and maintain theirs and your privacy.
Free Plan Cons
The drawback with their Free subscription is it comes with ads, and you won’t get any premium features. The premium features of the paid plans include outbound links, split testing, heatmaps, and campaign tracking. Paid also won’t have ads in the dashboard and have more reporting options.
The bright side is the most expensive Clicky plan (aside from Custom) is only $19.99 monthly. If you do find that the Free plan doesn’t have enough for your business needs you can always upgrade.
You can also pair the Free plan with any of the other freemium subscriptions in this list for more information. Using another free solution will be a great choice for teams with more than one website or who are interested in more key metrics. You just need to remember Clicky’s Free plan doesn’t have data exporting.
What Are The Best Free Website Analytics Tools?
The table below shows short summaries of the main differences between software. This is for a big picture comparison rather than small details. The table is only comparing their free plans to each other and is not taking into account the paid subscriptions.
|Web Analytics Tools||Google Analytics|
|Hotjar||Hotjar offers better visualizations of behavior data with heatmaps while Google does not offer those metrics.|
|Smartlook||Smartlook offers metrics like heatmaps but it’s very limited. Google Analytics offers more metrics and features by far in comparison.|
|Woopra||Woopra features can be limited but their metrics do provide important information for user profiles whereas Google Analytics does not offer much for the customer journey.|
|Mixpanel||Mixpanel offers great data monitoring and reports for a large sample size but in comparison, Google Analytics offers more features on user data.|
|Clicky||Clicky offers more privacy for customer bases compared to Google Analytics. Clicky also creates user profiles.|
|Motomo||Motomo offers more control and privacy over your visitor data compared to Google. Google Analytics offers more features for data.|
If you want to see more website analysis tools we have a couple of different lists of software available. We offer related software under the categories of web analytics, digital analytics, conversion rate optimization, and eCommerce analytics.
We also recommend these articles for those that want to know more about web analytics. HubSpot’s blog has an awesome beginner introduction to web analytics and TechTarget is perfect for more in-depth learning. Clean.io’s blog goes into some major eCommerce benefits.
For those that have used any of the platforms discussed here please leave a review to help other buyers make informed decisions.