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Why Do Different Website Analytics Programmes Show Different Stats?

Posted by Andrew Gibbins on 31-Jul-2019 10:00:00

Why Do Different Website Analytics Programmes Show Different Stats

Data harvested from analytics platforms is only useful if it is accurate, so it’s disconcerting when apparent discrepancies appear between different platforms over the same metric. It is common for businesses to have Google Analytics, and to also to have additional analytics from software programmes like HubSpot, Lead Forensics, or built-in website stats. When businesses have two or more forms of web stats/analytics, they often show different figures.

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With our clients, we always use Google Analytics but will often install HubSpot as well which also provides website analytics - and they frequently show different web visit stats. Is this a cause for concern and is one more accurate than the other?

Unfortunately, there will always be some variation between Google Analytics and other programmes, but this doesn’t mean that either platform is returning false or inaccurate data. Here’s why:


1) Different Applications Use Slightly Different Methods To Track Visitors

Analytics programmes track website visits, or ‘hits’, through a JavaScript tracking code inserted on each web page you want to monitor. When a visitor arrives on the page, the code prompts a small text file to be saved to the visitor’s browser cache – known as a cookie. This allows the platform to remember which pages a visitor views, which page they arrive on, which links they click, and the last page they view before leaving the site.

The differences arrive from subtle variations in the code itself, as well as the de-duplication methods used by each platform. This is important because it is not possible to track unique visitors with 100% accuracy. As cookies are linked to web browsers, four people visiting your website for the first time from the same computer may be indistinguishable from an individual visiting your site multiple times. Also, if a returning visitor blocks cookies or clears their cache, the hit will show up as a new site visit.

Different analytics tools deal with this conundrum in different ways, which sometimes results in contradictory page visit statistics.


2) Filters & Account Settings Differ Slightly Between The Two Platforms

The purpose of using an analytics platform is not simply to know the total number of visitors and subsequent conversions, but to find out where the leads came from and their behaviour on your site. This demands personalisation, because there is a lot of potential data and some metrics are more useful to certain companies than others. Google and other platforms like HubSpot allow their users to personalise their filters and account settings in slightly different ways, which can skew the comparative results.


3) Some Webpages May Not Have One Of The Two Tracking Codes Installed

To make a direct comparison between analytics programmes, you must have a tracking code from each platform installed on every page of your website. A page that has the tracking code for one but not the other will be invisible to the platform whose tracking code is missing. This will affect the way each application records the way visitors interact with your website.


How To Make Sense Of Discrepancies

As long as the relevant tracking codes are installed on all pages you wish to monitor, and the account settings are optimised for each platform, discrepancies are nothing to worry about. Unfortunately no analytics platform is 100% accurate but the differences are normally small, and the general trends will be the same across both.

Large discrepancies normally arise from a missing tracking code or a mismatch in filter settings. The best approach is to monitor your results over time and log any discrepancies. Small differences may disappear when you review your data again next month, while technical analysis can identify and resolve more serious underlying problems.

If you’d like to optimise your analytics for greater accuracy and consistency, please call 01332 343281 to speak with one of our advisers today.

Image source: Pixabay

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