AnalyticsI recently read an interesting blog post asking, “Should you pay $150,000 for your web analytics tool?”, this is a great question given there are so many free solutions available. After all, free is a very attractive price point. The blog post covers a number of important areas and makes some excellent conclusions; for example, it recommends that if you are paying top dollar for your analytics then you should have the staff to support it – a full-time, paid-up analyst. Sound words indeed.

I would agree that for small start-ups launching their new business there is nothing to lose by using a free solution like Google Analytics or Flurry, but lots to gain. All companies really must use analytics, failure to do so means you are running your business blind, which your investors won’t appreciate.

What the post does not cover particularly well are the reasons why anyone should pay good money for a web analytics tool (they are selling Google Analytics services after all). So let me suggest 3 key reasons why you should part with your hard earned cash in return for your analytics tool.

Analytics are the foundation for all solid corporate decisions and strategy
Analytics are the foundation for all solid corporate decisions and strategyIf you compare building your business to building a house or a skyscraper, then the analytics you choose can be compared to the foundations, they form the grounding on top of which all your decisions and strategies are formed. Flaws and gaps in your analytics information are like cracks in your foundations which result in the instability and breakdown of decisions built on top – your strategies are only as good as the information on which they are based.

Reason #1: When you are building a multi-million dollar business, cost of analytics should not be a major deciding factor. Opting for free may not give your company the best foundation or demonstrate decision making confidence to investors.

Quality and depth of information gives competitive advantage
Bango AnalyticsIt is crucial not to assume your current analytics tool is delivering an accurate or complete picture across all your requirements, question everything and double check for gaps in your information. A great place to start is with your mobile measurement, everything non-PC from feature phones to smartphones, tablets and beyond. Mobile should be an important part of your strategy during this coming year or next, so it is crucial that your chosen analytics tool is delivering an accurate and complete picture in order to compete strongest in this new market. All the traditional solutions have serious flaws compared to true mobile solutions where the platform vendor has close relationships with carriers and handset manufacturers. This is particularly true with Bango who also provide carrier billing solutions for key handsets like BlackBerry and advanced browser developers like Opera. Even something as simple, yet as fundamentals as mobile device detection within Google Analytics or Omniture shows significant errors, while their PC centric technology struggles to cope with network complexities and on-going changes in Apple policies – and that’s just the start.

Reason #2: Better information will give you the competitive edge. Choose a tool that delivers the highest accuracy and widest range of information for your most strategic and competitive markets, such as mobile. Don’t blindly rely on the cheapest option.

Data ownership and control
Data ownership and control You have to ask yourself if that analytics product really is free. I remember my father standing in front of me saying “Son, nothing in this life is truly free, you remember that”. Free analytics products like Google Analytics or Flurry can only be free because they generate money for the vendor in other ways. They will use or sell your huge wealth of information about all your customers and their activities across your websites, products and apps to make more money than they could otherwise achieve. With ownership of your data there is nothing stopping them directly selling your family jewels to your competitors. In most cases they use your data to fuel their core advertising business, allowing them to accurately target your loyal customers with offers of products from advertisers bidding the highest price. Now that is not a problem if you are an ad funded business where your aim is to get as many visitors as possible to click on those ads. But if you are funded by product sales or are big enough to measure, price and sell your own ad space, then irretrievably giving up such valuable information in return for some free analytics may not be the best value for money.

Reason #3: Your business depends on your customers and their detailed history of activity across all your properties over time. Protect that information and leverage it correctly with the right tools. You may be paying far too much for those free analytics.