Getting good site stats

I’ve been using both Google Analytics and FeedBurner‘s own Site Stats service simultaneously for the past couple of months, and I thought I’d give a comparison of the two.

They both use little JavaScript snippets that you copy and paste into your web pages. They’re both good at eliminating false traffic (bots, etc.). That’s where the similarity ends.

Google Analytics gives more detailed feedback that’s targeted toward marketers and webmasters. It’s also tightly integrated with Google’s AdWords program, so you can track the success/conversion of your campaigns. But, it’s got so many options and menus to dig through, that it’s hard to use overall. You really need to spend some time learning it.

On the other hand, FeedBurner’s Site Stats service is simple and easy. They present the data in a way that’s easy to understand. And while at first you may think you’re not getting all of the data that Google Analytics provides, in practice, I’m getting all the data I need. It’s just organized so much better, that I need to go through less menus to get at it.

Want to know the best part? FeedBurner’s Site Stats provides almost instant feedback on what’s going on with your site. Yesterday, one of my posts about Zooomr got dugg, and made it to Digg’s front page. It was already more than three hours since it had been dugg, yet Google Analytics provided me with no data to indicate the Digg traffic. FeedBurner was right on top of it. I’d been getting data almost instantly and could monitor the traffic very nicely. This has been the case all along. I’ve been using Google Analytics since May of 2006, and I knew there was a significant lag, so I couldn’t use it to monitor my live traffic — I could only tell what happened to my site afterwards.

As any web developer will tell you, the ability to monitor your site traffic live is a huge benefit. What’s even more important is the ability to get great customer service. FeedBurner provides that, and has done so from the start. When I email them, I know I’m going to get a reply from a real, live, person, not a bot, and not a canned reply. That’s really cool. That’s why, even though their Site Stats service is free, I opted to purchase their detailed feed stats, and pay a little every month for that. It’s much better to pay a little and get something worthwhile, than always go with free and get what you pay for.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Google Analytics. It’s a great service. But Google’s getting bigger and bigger these days, and they’ve never made it very easy to get in touch with one of their “humans”. Just a few days ago, I had a question about my AdSense account, and needed to get in touch with a person, because I couldn’t find the answer in their documentation. I emailed them and got an auto reply back, which said I should reply back with certain further information if I wanted to reach a human. I did that, and I got what looked like a canned reply, so I’m not even sure if it was a human being, or another auto reply. Not fun, and my problem still didn’t get solved.

On the other hand, I know the FeedBurner folks. I met a few of them in person, and I know the others via email. They’re real, helpful people. So if I were to recommend a stats service to you, I’d say go with FeedBurner’s Site Stats. That is, unless you absolutely must monitor your AdWords conversion campaigns through Google Analytics. Or use both services, and do your own comparison. I think in the end you’ll be happier with FeedBurner, like I am.


4 Thoughts

  1. I also use FeedBurner’s Ad Network to monetize my feed and site content, in addition to Google’s AdSense. It’s worthwhile to look into all of FeedBurner’s services if you want to develop and grow your blog.

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  2. Thanks for the comparison. I have a FeedBurner account, and publish a few feeds via their service, but don’t (yet) advertise my FeedBurner feeds. I simply haven’t had the time to sit down, tinker with and understand their services. At present, when I think FeedBurner, I think “the consolidated feed people.” It sounds as though they have much more to offer.

    And like you, I’ve not been thrilled with Google Analytics. It’s a fantastic service–very robust, and surely useful if you’re trying to track long-term metrics and marketing trends. But, also like you, I don’t really care about 90% of the views provided. I’m not selling ads. I don’t necessarily care which search terms are driving people to my site. I just want to know how many folks are visiting, when, and from where. That’s about it!

    So, thanks for the review! I do believe that I’ll be giving some of FeedBurners services a trial run in the very near future . . .

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