Recently, a customer approached us with the question of whether he should stick with Google Analytics or utilize the Sitecore Experience Database (xDB) instead. There seems to be a common misconception that these two tools are very similar, but in fact they have quite different fields of application. This blog post clarifies on what you can expect from either of the two solutions.
Google Analytics really is a pure analytics tool, which means it collects and presents visitor data. It is very good at that, especially when you consider that you get it virtually for free if you are willing to pay with data. In addition, setting up Google Analytics minimizes interference with your web application and spares you the hassle of managing additional infrastructure.
The xDB on the other hand can leverage the collected data. While a substantial part of its purpose is the collection of analytics data, it focuses on personalization. The benefit within a Sitecore Solution is a substantial one: it is in control of the content. If that seems like a minor feature to you, imagine using Google Analytics to show content only to visitors with a certain persona. You would have to implement functionality to personalize content, you would have to use some Google Analytics API to retrieve the data, and probably you would need to store processed information locally for performance reasons.
Your Complete Marketing Environment
The xDB provides this functionality in a completely integrated fashion. You can use the same interface to define personas, configure their properties, and manage customer-specific content. In addition it lets you evaluate Email-campaigns, utilizes A/B Testing, connects with social media, and enables you to use website content in Emails. Sitecore may not be as good in any of those single fields as the best-of-breed solutions, but it enables the marketer to utilize all channels in a consistent way from a single interface.
If you are in the situation of facing the same decision, the conclusion is simple: If you are satisfied with Google Analytics, keep it. The good thing is that these two technologies do not contradict each other. If you have a marketing infrastructure in place and only need the analytics functionality, do not add additonal complexity to your environment.
Yet if you do not have a marketing infrastructure in place or your infrastructure is fragmented, consider switching to the Sitecore xDB. It might be a big initial investment but the ultimate result is a consistent, personalized customer experience throughout all channels, enabling your marketers to engage the customer efficiently.
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