Matomo, is it a viable alternative to Google Analytics?
Matomo Analytics is an alternative to Google Analytics that gives you full control of your data and protects user’s privacy.
Matomo Analytics is a leading open-source web analytics platform, an alternative to Google Analytics in a world where privacy now matters. It has more than 1.4 million websites in over 190 countries. In addition to being open-source, it is extendable and can be customized. And just like Google Analytics, it helps marketers get a good understanding of the website’s performance and customer behaviour. However, Matomo places the majority of its focus on data ownership, so your data has to be 100% yours and the privacy of your users is protected.
Matthieu Aubry originally developed Matomo along with some of his friends in late 2007. It has two different hosting options – cloud and on-premise. Cloud takes the hassle out of installation for a monthly fee (cost based on monthly traffic), whereas On-Premise is the free, open-source and self-hosted version giving you maximum flexibility and privacy. Both hosting options have their own ways to get that data onto the WordPress Dashboard (cloud / on-premise).
Matomo Analytics overview
Matomo is a web analytics platform designed to give you conclusive insights with our complete range of features. Just like with Google Analytics, you can evaluate the full user experience of your visitor’s behaviour with its Conversion Optimization features, including Heatmaps, Sessions Recordings, Funnels, Goals, Form Analytics and A/B Testing. If you’re familiar with Google Analytics (Universal Analytics), Matomo will look very familiar. Once you login, either directly or via the WordPress plugin, you can access the following views:
- Dashboard – you can get an overview of the critical metrics and more informational widgets
- Visitors – tracks visits over time, their locations, device info, and user IDs (if set up)
- Behaviour – focuses on pages, links, downloads, and reporting on performance
- Acquisition – understand how visitors found your site (which channel they’re coming from)
- Ecommerce – tracks products and sales
- Goals – set and track them
It provides real-time updates on the details of your visitors; has goal conversion tracking to track business objectives; event tracking to identify and measure user interaction with your website; and A/B testing which helps you optimise your website campaigns by experimenting and running A/B tests. You can also create segments, change the format of some of the reports such as charts, and export data sets.
As mentioned, the UI is similar to Google Analytics. If you compare features and reports, Matomo will fall behind. But the main website KPIs are all available here. The interface is easier to navigate and clear.
One important aspect to consider when choosing a web analytics tool is the user interface they offer for installing their software. Now, let’s see how you can install these 2 tools on your WordPress website.
Both Google Analytics and Motomo Cloud require you to sign-up for an account, from here you can access all your data (once you add the tracking code to your site, either manually or by using a plugin). Alternatively, you can access the data using a plugin from within the WordPress Dashboard. If you want to have full control over your data you will want to use Matomo On-Premise. For this method, you’ll need to host the Matomo software on your own servers. Hence, you’ll need to ensure to have a web server of your own and access to your web server via shell or FTP. It of course is a little more fiddley to do, but no more so than hosting WordPress yourself.
Both Google Analytics and Matomo include basic tracking features, including real-time users, users’ locations, devices, operating systems, top landing pages, top exit pages, traffic referrals, etc.
With Matomo Cloud, you’ll have limited tracking abilities. You can add only 30 websites, 30 users, 150 goals, 100 segments, 30 action custom dimensions. Google Analytics, Matomo Cloud Enterprise and Matomo On-Premise, on the other hand, allow you to add unlimited users, unlimited goals, segments, and custom dimensions.
Google Ads Tracking
One of the greatest benefits of using Google Analytics is its powerful integration with other Google products. If you’ve got Google Ads running and you want to know how your website users are interacting with them, no problem. But Matomo, as of 2019, has this covered too.
In order to track the performance of your online forms, you’ll need to set up event tracking in Google Analytics whereas Matomo has an automatic form tracking feature.
Google Analytics implements data sampling once you’ve collected a certain amount of data. So what you get in a GA report is an estimate rather than the full picture. Matomo doesn’t use data sampling.
Both platforms offer tag managers and both are a little hard to implement. The Tag Manager allows you to centrally manage scripts from one location, eg third-party scripts can all be managed in one location rather than installing them individually on your website. For instance, you can set a rule so that your helpdesk chat window doesn’t appear on a contact page.
After you log into your relevant accounts, you can view your website reports. First, you’ll see a general overview of your traffic stats on the home page. Now, you can click the report menus in the left panel one-by-one and see your site’s traffic reports.
With Matomo there are also paid-ons available from its marketplace such as:
- Heatmaps & Session Recordings – helps analyze your user behavior in more depth.
- Form Analytics – track form conversion rates, time to completion, drop-off fields, and more.
- Media Analytics – track how visitors interact with audio or video media players. It includes embeds from YouTube and other sources
- Custom Reports – create your own custom dimensions and reports.
- Search Engine Keywords Performance – view the visitor’s actual search keywords.
- Funnels & Cohorts & Users Flow – helps you better dig into the user behavior across visits and time scales.
- Multi-Channel Conversion Attribution – understand how each marketing channel contributes to conversions.
- Cohorts – lets your visitors engage and come back for more.
- Users Flow – shows the most popular path which lets you understand your users’ needs]
Matomo’s mission is to give control and data ownership back to users. It offers web analytics on your own servers. There are no third parties taking ownership, no on-selling of data, and no one looking in.
- Data anonymization
- GDPR Manager
- Users can opt out of all tracks
- First-party cookies by default
- People can view the data collected
- Capabilities to delete visitor data when requested
- The data is not used for any other purposes (compared to Google Analytics)
- IP anonymization
- Visitor logs and profiles can be disabled
- Data is stored in the EU (Matomo Cloud) or in any country of your choice (Matomo On-Premise)
When using Matomo, you don’t need to ask for specific consent from visitors to collect their information. With Matomo On-Premise, Cloud, and Matomo for WordPress, the data collected is completely owned by you. The CJEU ruled US cloud servers don’t comply with GDPR. Matomo’s cloud-hosted data is stored in Europe and your On-Premise data can be stored in any desired country.
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