Analytics Update: Do You Need a Second Analytics Package?

by 1 06/03/2014

The first time I used Clicky web analytics, back in 2007, I was blown away. My original review described it as “one of the most user friendly web stats packages I have come across.”

Seven years later, I’m still using it to provide an alternative to Google Analytics for tracking and analyzing web visitor data on all my sites. Over the years, the gap between Google Analytics and Clicky has narrowed, but it’s still useful to have both.

Read my original review here. Keep reading for my updated evaluation.

clicky - placeit
Source: Placeit.net

Setting Up Clicky Analytics

Clicky is available for free for a single site with less than 3,000 daily page views, and there are pro plans which give you access to more features. This review is based on a modified Pro plan (10 sites and 10,000 daily page views) which I received as one of the earliest users of Clicky.

Setting up Clicky is similar to setting up other analytics packages. After creating an account you get an admin site key and a site key (a different one for each site being tracked. Then you can install code manually or use a plugin.

There are integrations for a huge number of web software packages (such as Tumblr, Squarespace, Vanilla Forums, Magento and Joomla!).

For WordPress site owners, there are two plugins. I use the one by WordPress SEO creator Yoast. This gives me access to Clicky stats in the WordPress dashboard. There are also a number of mobile and desktop apps and browser plugins so you can track analytics data without actually being on the Clicky site.

Clicky dashboard

Customizing Clicky

Clicky is dashboard and widget-based. You get a dashboard for your Clicky home page and each site also has its own dashboard. All dashboards are customizable.

Not only can you use drop down boxes to change what’s on display but you can use Clicky’s rich customization options to determine which widgets appear on each dashboard. Once you have a dashboard you like, it’s easy to copy it to another site with a couple of clicks.

Before going to the individual site dashboard, it’s worth checking out the preferences sub-menu (which appears as a link when on the site dashboard). This is where you can handle issues like:

  • Enabling or disabling the Ajax interface
  • Disabling automatic secure browsing (if the https protocol conflicts with your firewall)
  • Disabling analytics temporarily
  • Changing how your site appears in the main dashboard (for example, by giving it a friendly nickname)

Other preferences you can set include:

  • Showing or hiding ISPs in the reports
  • Setting up email reports (a feature I use to give a monthly overview of web traffic for a site I manage on a volunteer basis)
  • Creating widgets that you can embed on your site
  • Setting global filters
  • Subscribing to RSS feeds for analytics data.

The Site Dashboard

Clicky starts you off with some default widgets, which you can change. In this test, the widgets cover “the basics,” content, recent visitors, searches, links and engagement.

Although Clicky’s data is similar to that of other analytics programs, there are a few nifty features:

Clicky content

 

  • Each widget can be altered on the fly to show a different view of the data, which makes Clicky extremely easy to use, compared with navigating around other analytics programs. Clicking on the links in the widgets expands the data. For example, if you expand the visitor data you can see how many people looked at pages, how many downloaded items, how many followed outbound links, viewed media or triggered other events. You can also click on the tiny arrows to the right of each line to check on referrers, external links and more.
  • There is an automatic comparison with data for the previous period (shown via red or green percentage numbers to the right of each widget). That gives an instant assessment of how the metrics have changed.
  • You don’t have to switch to a different view to see title and URL information for your top content; these are presented together.
  • You can measure content events, such as people commenting on your posts or sharing them on social media.

The bounce rate metric is fantastic. For years, Clicky has differed from other analytics packages in measuring bounces.

Clicky’s view is that someone who spends 5 minutes looking at a single page is not a bounce, which is the way many other programs see it. For those measuring traffic on blogs, where someone may look at a single article and then go away, this makes sense.

Other Analytics Data

Clicking the links across the top allows you access to even more data. One of the changes since my last review is the ability to hone in on a particular visitor session and see heat map data (shown by a little icon to the right of lines lines on the report).

Please note, this isn’t as detailed as Crazy Egg’s heatmaps, which offers in-depth visual reports on user activity.

Clicky heatmap

In the content section, you can get the Clicky equivalent of Google’s visitor flow report, showing where people came from and where they went next.

The search interface shows Google rank for any of your top ranked pages.

Clicky also provides data from Sheer SEO for your top ranked searches on the main search engines. This could be useful for those mourning the loss of keyword data.

Clicky keywords

A good feature in the links interface is the “newest unique” links. This usually highlights a couple of links that I have not seen on other sources. While writing this review, it even found a link to my content on a page that hadn’t yet been published!

Clicky tracks URLs via bit.ly and its own URL shortener, and you can keep track of visitor technology via Platforms.

Clicky Web Analytics – Killer Features

One of Clicky’s killer features is that all data is real-time and up-to-date. You don’t just get a snapshot of what’s happening now (via the Spy interface) but the analytics metrics are immediately updated.

That means you always have a complete picture of what’s happening on your site and how the metrics are changing.

Clicky social media

Another interesting feature is that Clicky automatically tracks certain RSS events as campaigns. That includes CoSchedule posts, Buffer shares and email newsletter data. With these dynamic campaigns, there’s no setup required.

Clicky also supports dynamic goals and split testing.

And it can track some of the data on your Twitter account, a feature that was around long before Twitter rolled out its own analytics. While I don’t believe the Clicky data matches the actual activity on my Twitter account, it’s nice to have.

Clicky Twitter

Stats nerds will enjoy the global visitors’ map, updated in real time to show where the highest concentration of visitors is. You can also see location pins for the last 100, 500 or 1000 visitors and zoom in to focus on particular localities.

Other cool features include:

  • Individual user tracking – This feature, which is a new Universal Analytics feature, has been part of Clicky for a while. You can add user names and email addresses to visitors so that you can track the people you know and marry that up with your customer database or your social media fans and followers.
  • Action based alerts
  • Video analytics tracking
  • An on-site widget (visible only to the site owner) giving you real time visitor and heatmap information.

This review barely scratches the surface of what Clicky can do, especially if you upgrade to a paid plan, but if you’re wondering whether you really need a second analytics package, check out Clicky’s own comparison of where it’s better than Google.

For me, there’s no question that I’ll keep using Clicky web analytics. I love the user interface, the ease of accessing rich data and the constant improvement of the product. Have you used Clicky? What do you think?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sharon Hurley Hall.

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About 

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 20 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.

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