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2 min read

📊 Google Analytics 4 Frustrates Marketers: Exploring Cons and Alternatives

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Since its launch, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has won few fans. Although Google gave everyone over a year to transition from the outgoing Universal Analytics platform, many didn't switch because of GA4's subpar user interface (UI) and increased complexity. They only transitioned when Google forced the change in July 2023.

While many marketers have adopted GA4 due to the attractive price of $0, the challenges of working with the new platform have prompted others to explore alternatives – in some cases, for the first time.

Here are some of the common frustrations users have voiced when it comes to GA4 and some potential alternatives:

Frustrations With The Google Analytics 4 Interface

There's been no shortage of voices in the marketing community expressing discontent over GA4's UI, and there have been enough complaints to fill a book. Among the most prominent issues are:

Not Ga4 Compliant

As of 2022, GA4 falls short of GDPR compliance due to unresolved issues with EU-US data protection, insufficient protection against US surveillance laws, and a lack of transparency regarding data storage locations.

Poor Usability

Users report that the settings and layout of GA4 could be more intuitive, particularly for new and less-technical users. Creating reports is more complicated than in Universal Analytics, and sharing reports comes with limitations.

Missing Features 

The "Annotations" feature found in Universal Analytics, a helpful tool for collaboration and troubleshooting, is absent in GA4.

Limited Search Capabilities

Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 doesn't allow regular expressions (regex) in the search box, making searches more restricted and less flexible.

Time-Consuming Errors

Minor errors in setting up Audiences or making other configurations can require a complete restart, wasting precious time.

Inconvenient Report Editing

The new system limits the number of metrics that can be added to a report, causing frequent toggling between configurations.

Despite these challenges, some recommend that users stay patient and keep practicing. The more familiar users become with the platform, the easier it should get. However, not everyone has the luxury of patience and may need to switch to an alternative tool with different shortcomings (or is using the forced transition as an opportunity to explore other tools).

5 Alternatives to GA4

If you’re among those considering other options as a result of the transition to GA4, here are some tools that are worth looking at:

1) Matomo: 

A tool that offers real-time data, customizable dashboards, and detailed reports, appealing to marketers who appreciate Universal Analytics. Matomo provides complete control over data and has robust privacy features for added security.

2) Clicky: 

Clicky offers real-time platform usage, heat mapping, backlink analysis, and mobile compatibility—many marketers who've made the switch appreciate its ease of use and comprehensive features.

3) Kissmetrics:

Kissmetrics is a behavioral analytics solution offering precise conversion reports by tracking users across multiple devices. It maps full customer journeys, identifying drop-off points. While it provides custom pricing for large enterprises, it costs $499 per month for small to medium businesses.

4) Simple Analytics: 

The Simple Analytics platform emphasizes privacy and simplicity, delivering all the necessary tracking information in a clean, out-of-the-box dashboard. It’s popular among marketers who prioritize audience data and user privacy.

5) Mixpanel

Mixpanel is a product analytics tool that enables customized reporting and analytics dashboards for analyzing metrics like conversions, app usage, and retention rates. Offering integration with Mixpanel, you can view your visitors' recording URLs within your Mixpanel event feed, thus enhancing your purely quantitative analytics experience.

Looking Forward: Is GA4 Here to Stay?

Though the shift to GA4 hasn't been seamless, rushing to switch tools may not be the best course of action, especially if the alternative carries a significant cost. Given time, Google might revise the product to improve its usability (though improvements have been minimal over the past year).

Whether you stay with GA4 or move to another tool, replacing Universal Analytics with GA4 represents a significant change that users must adapt to.

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