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Looks nice. I’m somewhat surprised we haven’t seen an obvious alternative to Google Analytics yet. It’s got a wide and deep surface area. But feels like for the majority of eg B2B SaaS apps there’s a much simpler solution to be built. Something that conves mainline scenarios like:

- what channels / sites / campaigns is my traffic coming from?

- what pages are people landing on?

- what pages are driving conversions?

- what do my conversion goals look like (percentage and total conversions)

GoatCounter doesn't do a lot of these things ... yet, but it's definitely planned.

I'm a little bit hesitant to look too much at GA, since I don't to just make an "open source GA". In a lot of jobs I worked at we were essentially just "making a shit copy of a shit product", to put it crudely. I really want to avoid doing that.

So the way may be quite different, but the goal of providing meaningful business insights is definitely there.

I wouldn't look at how GA implements things. But I'd look at what people are using GA to learn.

The four scenarios I listed above are important to understand when running the marketing side of a B2B SaaS company.

I don't care about the implementation details (other than they're straightforward). But I need to understand that info. And today there's no obvious choice other than GA. This surprises me.

Matomo is probably the only serious contender at the moment, as far as I know.

I agree that info is important, I just meant that the UI might turn out quite different from GA.

If you pay for additional plugins (or cloud version) that aren't open source, you may have this. The basic version is like the rest and ugly as hell.

For enterprises Adobe Analytics is actually the industry leader, and there are a few other options as well.

For startups there's plenty of options, mixpanel is probably my favorite.

Google Analytics probably has more users because of ease of use for small business but I wouldn't say it's a space without competition.

I did some research into this a few months ago, and it turns out you're right.

If a company is serious about learning about its customers and how they use their products, then it invests in Adobe Analytics.

If a company is looking for something that's free, quick, and "good enough," then it goes with Google Analytics.

Just like if a company is serious about advertising, it hires a professional ad agency. If it's looking for something cheap and "good enough," it go with Google AdWords.

Mixpanel's more product usage. The most valuable part of GA is imho the marketing piece. Eg:

- "Show me where my visitors are coming from"

- "Show me what landing pages are most popular... at driving conversion... by channel"


Mixpanel also has traffic source attribution. Including Google ads out of the box.

What about Matomo[0]?


I used it for a while, and found the UX really hard. YMMV, but I wasn't happy with it.

Also, the hosted version isn't free, and self-hosting is also comparative expensive (vs. free) and time-consuming. IMHO any serious GA alternative should have a free hosted option. I wrote about that a bit more in-depth yesterday over here: https://lobste.rs/s/ooag4u/goatcounter_1_0_release#c_o76csv

In past many companies wanted to do "free analytics for people", and we don't see them anymore, you can't compete with Google offering having just free option. Google runs on scale and they can keep it free, and sell or use data from it.

If you want to build analytics software on moral grounds for privacy and stuff you will just bleed out or just run very niche or indie business. It's great for nomadic makers, but not for serious business.

Look on Matomo, Simple Analytics or Fathom. They are all great(besides Matomo) but they can't compete on other market than small business. And yes, I know that Matomo has enterprise clients, but they are also small comparing to GA. :)

Want to compete with them? Have a great plan and support from major search engine like DDG. If not, then you can make another Mixpanel(which is great!).

It's not that surprising that someone hasn't come up with a product as comprehensive, and most importantly "free". That's a lot of infrastructure.

Then you've got to give people a server-side component they can run, so that the infrastructure (not to mention security/privacy) load is handled by the right party. I personally think it's horrible that it's become industry standard to sell out customers like this.

You're assuming most of planet even understands what you just said. They just want 4 lines of code that they paste in their Wordpress for free.

No need for it to be free. I'd be willing to pay to not blow my brains out every time I have to touch GA.

I know you'd be willing to pay, so would I, but most would not, which is why Google Analytics is so ridiculously popular.

Every website needs analytics. The market is huge. Doesn't matter if most don't want to pay.

What else can a paid product offer? I somewhat jokingly feel I'm paying for i++ To state my unpopular opinion again: Ah, another service government could do better than the free market.

How badly do you want to avoid tracking your users?

It's hard to get statistics on conversion when you don't even track users across pages on your own site. It looks like GoatCounter can't show you unique visitors or how they move around on your site because it doesn't track them. There are no cookies on the main page! This seriously limits the kinds of features that can be implemented.

On the other hand, they're collecting referrer data. Maybe that could be analyzed and cross-referenced on the server side to reconstruct a user's movement around your site without having to rely on cookies. But then somebody will point out that it's actually a type of tracking. And if you're going to track users anyway, why not just use cookies?

Yeah, I'll add some sort of "cookie tracking". It's just not done yet. There is some prior art at Fathom and Simple Analytics on how to do that while still preserving anonymity. I'm not entirely sure yet which approach I'll take.

I might make it an optional feature, too. Again, need to look in to it in-depth.

There are a zillion-and-one things to do, and thus far other things have taken priority :-)

I don't care that much about not tracking my users tbh. I'm only using it to optimize conversion on my site. I'm not selling it or doing anything untoward, and wouldn't ever.

You can't optimise conversion if you remove the ability to track users. If you see 8 hits on page A and 4 on page B, is it that 4 people left or that the first 4 people visited the page twice before they moved to page B? You can't tell without the unique cookie.

That said, having a unique but anonymous cookie within a single site isn't the end of the world but Google only provide GA for free because it is useful for determining other things.

Like I said, I don't care about not tracking my users. In other words I'm fine tracking my users.

The main reason is that it took tens of years to build Google Analytics as it is and Google has the advantage to be able to provide more information about the user such as demographic data (gender, age, etc) since they have all the data in-place.

Having said that, there is no need to create an exact copy of Google Analytics because most of the people probably use only 20% of the features anyway. Each business has its own use-case and data source so it would be much more convenient to ingest all the raw event data into your data warehouse either using third-party tools such as Segment or open-source tools such as Snowplow and Rakam. This is the only way to have full control over your data.

1. If you don't want to store sensitive user-data, just don't send it to your servers.

2. Create the reports either using SQL or something like Rakam that provides you an interface similar to Amplitude / Mixpanel but on top of your data-warehouse so that you don't need to share your data with a third party service.

Shameless plug: I'm working for the company behind Rakam. (https://rakam.io)

Can't find obvious ways to see landing pages or conversions from their demo:


Am I missing something?

full disclosure - I'm a dev there, but Gator Analytics has all those things: https://analytics.gator.io

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