Google Analytics (GA) became officially available for all Google customers in August 2006. Since then, millions of organizations have adopted GA to help them drive their marketing efforts.
In December of 2014 Sitecore Experience Platform 8 introduced Experience Analytics as an integrated part of the platform. By that time many Sitecore clients had already been using GA for a while -- and many continued using GA even after version 8's release. Although GA is great, there are good reasons to use Experience Analytics as well, which I'll get to in a minute.
Sitecore Experience Analytics displays your website visitors' interactions stored in Sitecore's Experience Database (xDB). But getting the most out of your Experience Analytics reports requires some configuration effort. You must feed your xDB:
- Events - actions your visitors can take on your site pages
- Goals - actions that are considered a conversion because show engagement
- Outcomes - milestones on your customers journey
- Campaigns - marketing efforts to promote your products or services, track conversions by associating a goal to it
- Profiles/Engagement Value - define visitors profiles and score the content on your site in relation to the profile keys
You can enrich your data even further by feeding Sitecore offsite activities. Sitecore has the ability to accept data from machine learning engines, CRMs, ERPs, and almost any screen or system using the OData industry standard.
When considering the configuration effort, it seems only logical to ask: Why should I go through the extra work in configuring Sitecore Analytics if I have Google Analytics?
Here are three powerful reasons to track data in Sitecore in parallel to what you are tracking in Google Analytics:
xDB data powers Sitecore's website optimization features such as personalization and testing. It will offer you contextual visitor information to target your visitors with tailored content. You'll be able to use profile attributes such as engagement value thresholds, campaign origin, triggered events or goals as criteria to to personalize content and automate lead nurturing. Beyond collecting behavioral data for analysis and strategy planning, you will be able to act on it. You will use your visitors’ interactions to understand their interests and adjust your content to offer them a relevant experience.
- Data analysis at the individual level
Sitecore Experience Profile offers a single data view across multiple platforms. It allows you to analyze a visitor journey from the moment they interact with your organization as an anonymous contact to when they became engaged customers, advocates or lifetime customers. It lets you visualize the accumulated experience of a single contact and view the details of all their interactions with your organization. There's a lot of value in this view for a sales team working with high value transactions (real estate, for example).
- Big data scenarios
An enriched xDB provides the required non-sampled volume and granularity of data required to train machine learning, predictive analytics, customer segmentation, and next-best-action.
Some final thoughts on this matter:
Each platform brings different strengths; you can leverage both of them at the same time; they can complement each other.
GA gives you great information about your visitors, who they are, and how they interact with your site while Sitecore allows you to act on that data and produce unique contextual experiences for your users.