Updated February 14th, 2018
Google Analytics is the most popular website analytics tool. Hubspot is one of the most popular marketing automation platforms that also offers website analytics. We often get the question “Should I use Google Analytics or Hubspot Analytics for tracking and measurement”. The answer is Yes. We recommend using both and choosing which platform based on the questions you are trying to answer. This requires installing both the Google Analytics tracking code and Hubspot tracking code across all of your web pages, regardless of where they are hosted.
This post will dive into the value of using both platforms and addressing the #1 issue of source attribution and having consistent metrics across the two platforms.
Google Analytics Overview
Google Analytics is the industry standard for measuring website traffic and the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. It’s effective and free! While Google Analytics is more complex to use compared to Hubspot, it provides much greater detail, particularly when you apply segments. Fortunately, its widespread adoption means there are well-documented guides for nearly everything the platform has to offer.
Use Google Analytics to answer questions like:
- What country or region do my best visitors come from? Should I invest more money into advertising in those regions?
- How does visitor behavior and conversions differ between mobile and desktop users? Do I need to improve my mobile experience or should I invest more in mobile advertising?
- What pages on my site have the highest exit rate? Should I adjust any of the content on these pages to help direct visitors to what I want them to do next?
- How does my Google Adwords PPC traffic perform compared to my Bing PPC traffic?
Additionally, Google Analytics is our first stop for looking at metrics like visits (sessions), page performance, conversion rate and ecommerce data.
Hubspot Analytics Tools Overview
Hubspot Analytics Tools continue to evolve and improve. The reports are easy to read and the interface is easy-to-use for a variety of users across an organization. Hubspot is a good resource for checking high-level metrics. And it’s great at closing the loop between marketing and sales with metrics specific to new contacts (Hubspot’s term for leads) and customers.
Use Hubspot Analytics to answer questions like:
- What traffic sources are driving the most new contacts and the highest quality contacts?
- What traffic sources and marketing tactics are the most effective at generating customers?
- Is my content marketing influencing contacts and customers?
- What are my campaign analytics and is my campaign driving new contacts and customers?
- What is my contact to opportunity conversion rate?
- What are my database growth trends?
- How are people engaging with my email marketing and which emails are the most effective at driving action?
Additionally, Hubspot tracks the activity of all users (both known and unknown), creating the ability to score contacts and segment for targeted marketing efforts.
Consistent Data Between Google Analytics and Hubspot
The biggest frustration we see when using both Google Analytics and Hubspot is that the common web traffic metrics between the two platforms often do not line up. Sessions may differ slightly between the two platforms, and that is OK. It is important to understand and accept a level of variance, keep an eye on the variance to make sure it does grow and then choose one platform for consistent reporting.
One of the biggest issues is terminology and how web traffic is categorized into buckets. This is problematic because traffic may be grouped into a source that you might not expect, making it difficult to evaluate your investment into specific marketing efforts. Below is a summary of how each platform treats the categorization of where website traffic comes from:
- Channel = rule-based groupings of your traffic sources (ex: Direct, Organic Search, Social). Note – we suggest updating the default channel grouping to include Paid Social (see further below in this post)
- Source = referrer website (ex: google, facebook)
- Medium = marketing medium (ex: cpc, email)
- Campaign = product, promo code (user defined)
- Campaign Content = used to differentiate ads (ex: web_banner, sponsored_article)
Here is the Google Analytics Channels report:
Here is the Google Analytics Source / Medium Report:
- Sources = rule-based groupings of your traffic sources (ex: Organic Search, Paid Search) Note – these are similar to ‘Channels’ in Google Analytics, however, unlike Google Analytics, you cannot change these!
- Campaign = product, promo code (user defined)
- Medium = There is no Medium in Hubspot! One of its drawbacks is not being able to compare mediums across sources
Here is the Hubspot Sources Report:
Tips for data consistency between Google and Hubspot:
- Use UTM Tracking Parameters: We cannot stress how important it is to use consistent UTM naming conventions for all links you create that drive traffic back to your web pages. Doing this will consistently group data across Google and Hubspot, ensuring that the Google Analytics Channel reporting and Hubspot Source reporting more closely match. UTM tracking parameters are particularly important for email, social advertising and display advertising.
- Set up a Paid Social Channel in Google Analytics: Hubspot already has a Paid Social ‘Source” and you can create a custom channel grouping for Paid Social in Google analytics to track your social advertising efforts separately from organic social efforts. This will help ensure your Google Analytics Channel report and your Hubspot Sources report will more closely align. Here are the default channel groupings for reference.
- Use UTM Parameters for Non-Paid Search Advertising: Hubspot is missing a ‘Display’ source, to group traffic from paid sources that is not “Paid search”. We suggest using Medium = Display, which will group the Traffic into Hubspot under ‘Other Campaigns’. Hubspot’s Source Rules are helpful to construct an UTM structure that correctly attributes data to the right Source.
Turning data into something valuable in the marketing process is all about asking the right questions and applying focus. Combining Google Analytics and Hubspot Analytics will deliver data to help fuel conversations, ask the right questions and dig deeper to uncover insights.