TipsSecureWebAnalyticsThe only way you can capture how your users really tick, what your target group needs or how your market segment is developing is with a reliable database and the help of web analytics tools, Olaf Brandt, Managing Director at etracker GmbH explains, a specialist in web and app analytics as well as push marketing automation.

However, some of these indispensable tools, can no longer be used without further ado for various reasons, he points out, like the current shutdown of the Google Universal Analytics analysis tool.

Since a change is inevitable, why not go for a solution that is safe in terms of data protection law and a long-term investment-safe solution? Also consider that due to the gradually decreasing willingness of data protection-sensitive users to give their consent, your database is being reduced so drastically that it is hardly possible to derive meaningful information for your online marketing.

If you want to find out what needs to be done to save the database and secure it legally, and how you can find the right web analytics tool and master the change, consider the following tips from Olaf Brandt:

Ask yourself why you need web analysis and how to start making use of it

Which tool you use also depends on which data you want to collect and for what purpose. Is static reporting on website traffic enough for you, or do you prefer comprehensive exploratory analyzes to identify connections and explain anomalies? Do you need real-time data to better control your campaigns and optimize your website in a targeted manner? Then your tool must allow for deeper analysis and ad hoc segmentation of the data, as well as provide flexibility for data enrichment. Define what you want to get out of your data now and which KPIs are really relevant for your marketing and business decisions.

Consider your level of analysis and the option to scale

Looking into the future is crucial when choosing an analysis tool, because it is probably right now only about simple traffic reports, but your needs might grow. Therefore, make sure that the tool you choose allows for functional growth and has the appropriate scalability – without imposing the costs and manpower for an oversized tool right now. In general, it is advisable to start small with every new tool, for example with a low entry-level price and to increase as required. This gives you the flexibility to further develop your web analysis as soon as you need it. Keep in mind that you can take historical data with you when you expand your tool, and that performance must remain the same despite increasing data volumes.

Choose the right legal foundation

With a legally compliant consent as the basis for web analysis, you reduce your database to an average of around 15% of users worldwide, according to the Apple App Tracking study, that also states that around 85% of your website visitors remain unknown to you despite the analytics tool – and the added value of web analysis is more than questionable. You are better off with tracking that can be justified by your "legitimate interest" as the website operator and does not require any cookies. Cookie-less and consent-free, you can record well over 95% of your users.

Decide on an appropriate operating model

Where you host your web analytics solution depends on numerous factors. Certainly, security requirements, support needs and costs, are particularly relevant. At first sight, an in-house solution operation might seem to be a cheaper option, but it does not necessarily bring savings if there is a lack of human resources and the necessary know-how for 24/7 operation. Depending on the requirements of your tool, you can get a professional solution from a secure cloud for just a few dollars. For data protection reasons, always pay attention to the location of the provider and check the service level agreements (SLAs) carefully. Because a failure of the analytical system not only means a data gap but can also result in serious costs if the availability of your own website is affected. And don’t forget to check the openness of the system and the ability to connect to third-party systems such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads and others – and ensure smooth and automated processes, and how easily it can be integrated.

Consider the effort and consequences of the migration

The fact is that historical data is lost when there is a system change. This can even be the case if the provider forces a migration within the system – this is also the case with Google Analytics. This loss, while annoying, is unavoidable. However, it is much more important that you can take over your online campaigns as automatically as possible. This means that all tracking links that you have circulated should be able to be moved automatically. Manually adjusting or changing all tracking links is practically impossible. You can also check right away whether the new tool can also play back the conversion data as a basis for automated bid strategies for online ads in the advertising systems in compliance with the GDPR. This is the only way to ensure a smooth transition.

Don’t forget to check what kind of support is included in the service package and which web analysis tools gives you all important functions: the necessary scalability, a fair price model and, of course, maximum legal security through consent- and cookie-free tracking.

By Daniela La Marca