By Kady White
Reporting on website traffic, leads, and conversions is an essential part of any digital marketer’s job. And when it comes to reporting, especially with regard to inbound marketing, there are essentially two commonly used platforms: HubSpot and Google Analytics (GA).
Between the two platforms, there is definitely overlap as both offer similar reports. If you really want to dig deep into conversions, you’ll want to use Google Analytics and work with a developer or company that can set up proper tracking codes. While HubSpot provides easy-to-read traffic reports—giving you the ability to see traffic month over month, year over year, or compare custom date ranges—it doesn’t offer all of the same analytical data such as new versus returning visits, what types of devices your website is accessed on, and site stats such as page load speed.
To determine which platform is best for your business when comparing HubSpot versus Google Analytics, you really need to determine how much time and effort you want to spend in setting up tracking, and how much you are going to use the data for future decision-making.
A Quick Look at Each Platform
For most companies, HubSpot’s platform offers an easier interface for both marketers and non-marketers to read and understand. Graphs, charts, and month-over-month percentages are all incorporated into an easy-to-read dashboard that makes it really simple for marketers to see how a website is performing.
Although Google Analytics definitely offers more information, HubSpot’s platform (in our opinion) is easier to use and understand. One key difference to note is that if your goal is to generate inbound leads, HubSpot offers a great platform.
Another key difference between HubSpot and Google Analytics is the ability to track multiple websites from a single account. Google Analytics allows you to track multiple websites from within a single account. With HubSpot, you need to have an enterprise-level account to track multiple domains.
Key Differences Between HubSpot vs. Google Analytics
- Google Analytics allows you to track what type of device your site is being accessed on; HubSpot does not.
- Google Analytics allows you to see how your website is performing in different regions and markets.
- Only GA provides site performance metrics such as page load speed.
- Google Analytics offers flow maps and charts of how users entered your website and where they left your site. In HubSpot, you can only see this information on individual contact records.
- Using custom tracking elements, GA allows you to track every single interaction a visitor makes during a session. With HubSpot, you can measure things like clicks and form fills, but you can’t measure any micro-conversions such as how many times a video was played.
Why You Might See Discrepancies (and What to Do About Them)
It’s worth noting that data in GA is tracked differently than data in HubSpot, so reporting numbers can sometimes differ. This is because how each platform defines things like “sessions” and how they handle cookie tracking are different, as well as several other nuances in the methods each platform uses to collect its data.
What should you do if numbers aren’t matching up and you aren’t sure which platform to trust? Follow these guidelines:
- When looking at your results from both platforms, focus on the trends between the two systems—not comparing X visits from Google Analytics versus Y visits in HubSpot.
- Decide which platform will be your primary source of truth for reporting to ensure you’re tracking things consistently.
- Ensure tracking is set up correctly. Avoid having duplicate tags that could potentially skew your data, and be consistent with how you implement tracking (i.e., if you use Google Tag Manager or a developer to add tracking codes to your website appropriately).
In addition to website analytics, you may be reporting on metrics for things like social media channels. Similar rules apply; Decide whether HubSpot Analytics or native reporting within the social channel is the best source of information for your needs.
So, Which Should Your Company Use?
It’s worth noting that most inbound marketers use a combination of both Google Analytics and HubSpot. Google Analytics is great for granular data while HubSpot is used for closed-loop analytics and marketing automation.
If you’re looking for more granular data about each user on your website, such as where they’re visiting from, the device they’re on, where they left your website, and so on—Google Analytics is the platform you’ll want to use. There’s just no other platform available that offers the breadth of knowledge and data that GA can provide when properly set up.
However, if you’re looking to increase leads and don’t have a need for super-granular data (or you know you won’t use it), HubSpot’s platform is the way to go because of the interface. It’s easy to read and gives marketers the raw numbers they need to provide monthly reports to upper-level managers or internal departments.
To determine the best platform, it’s best to keep in mind the goals you are trying to achieve and your other marketing initiatives. If you’re focused on building traffic through content marketing and inbound, HubSpot’s platform is the way to go because you can search by campaign and see how your blog articles, social posts, landing pages, and other deliverables performed for a single campaign or marketing initiative.
Working Together to Help Your Marketing Data Tell A Story
Whether you’re trying to perfect your attribution reporting so you have a clear understanding of the journey your leads take, or you want to understand the ROI of the content you create and the channels where you communicate with your audience, both Google Analytics and HubSpot Analytics can work together to paint the full picture.
The important thing is to be consistent with which data you pull from each source. If you pull website traffic data from Google one month, then switch to HubSpot the next, it may be harder for you to tell the story in an accurate way.
What platform or website tools does your organization use or find most helpful? Tell us below in the comments!
This blog was previously published on May 18, 2017 and has since been updated.