Welcome back to the 35th edition of The Lab Report!

I was lucky enough to be able to take some time off and spend the last couple weeks over in Portugal.

I’ll be honest… I loved it way more than I thought I would.

The cities have a lot to do, but some of the landscapes were unreal.

Since you asked (not), here are some of my favourite pics from the trip:

A beach in the Algarve
A beach in the Algarve
A view of the sunrise from our Airbnb (the first sunrise I've seen in 17 years)
A view of the sunrise from our Airbnb (the first sunrise I’ve seen in 17 years)
The Azores are wild
The Azores are wild

Ok cool great glad you had fun, now let’s get into this week’s newsletter 🙂

📈 Should you upgrade to Google Analytics 4? Or something else?

Google Analytics countdown

Google is starting to get more in-your-face about the fact that Universal Analytics will stop collecting data on July 1st, 2023.

That’s only a month and a half away, so if you haven’t made the switch yet – now’s a good time to get crackin’ on it.

But what should you switch to?

Of course, Google’s successor to Universal Analytics is Google Analytics 4.

This probably would’ve been an easy upgrade for most people, but Google made the decision to not allow you to import any of your existing data.

So if you’re switching to GA4, you’re essentially starting from scratch. You’ll have no existing traffic data from previous years.

This is a pretty big deal, and is why you’ve seen more and more analytics platforms mentioned in the community lately.

Google used to be the only player.

Now they gave us reason to re-evaluate.

Here are some of the alternatives worth considering.

1) Fathom Analytics

Fathom Analytics

This one might be the most popular – at least in the FB groups I’m in.

Fathom Analytics is a simple analytics platform that cuts all the bloat.

It’s hyper-focused on user privacy, and you don’t even need to include it in your cookie consent banner.

The dashboard is far more simplistic than Google Analytics – which takes a second to get used to at first – but you learn to appreciate the simplicity over time.

Fathom screenshot

It makes it easier to find the information you’re looking for.

But maybe best of all, it lets you import your existing GA data. No more data loss.

Because they don’t sell your data, it ain’t free. Their smallest plan starts at $14/mth.

2) Independent Analytics

Independent Analytics

I only heard about this platform yesterday after watching Paul Charlton’s overview video.

Independent Analytics takes a similar approach to Fathom, but is installed as a WordPress plugin and is hosted on your server.

I have mixed feelings about this.

The pro is that you have full control over your data.

The downside is that it’ll require more maintenance.

If you are restoring a backup, importing from staging, migrating your site etc, you’ll need to make sure you exclude the Independent Analytics database tables.

Otherwise you’ll be overwriting your current data with old data.

And speaking of database, every single visit is going to be stored in your WordPress database.

Their knowledgebase says “Independent Analytics uses roughly 50-60MB per million visitors,” but I’m still concerned about db bloat over the long-term.

They have a pretty generous free version, as well as a Pro version that gives you more advanced features.

Independent Analytics screenshot

While I think Independent Analytics is an intriguing option, I’d personally prefer to store my analytics on an external SaaS platform and not think twice about it.

3) Plausible Analytics

Plausible Analytics

Spoiler: this is the platform I ultimately decided to switch to, and I’ve been happily using it for 8 months now.

On the surface, Plausible Analytics is VERY similar to Fathom Analytics. I almost just did a coin toss to help me decide which one to use.

After doing more testing though, I’d give Plausible the slight edge.

For one, I like the dashboard UI better. I find it easier to quickly digest.

Plausible screenshot

I’ve also found Plausible to be slightly ahead in feature-set.

It has all the core features Fathom has, plus a few bonuses.

Fathom just came out with their Google Analytics import, but Plausible has had it for a few months now.

Plausible lets you compare data, which Fathom doesn’t yet support.

You can also choose the time breakdown in which you want to see your data (hours, days, weeks, months), which I don’t believe Fathom supports yet either.

Plausible’s pricing is similar to Fathom. It has a cheaper base plan, but is a bit more expensive once you get into the higher pageview plans.

Overall Thoughts

I’d recommend giving each platform a try to see which one you like best.

Independent Analytics can be installed as a free plugin, and Fathom and Plausible both have live demos here and here.

I love that both of the latter platforms allow you to import your existing Google Analytics data.

Aside from the speed + privacy improvement, I think this is a huge benefit over GA4.

I’m still running GA4 alongside Plausible as a backup for now, but will probably just remove it once-and-for-all and ride solely with Plausible at some point later this year.

💬 Closing Comments

That’s all for this week. I had more topics to cover, but ended up writing a whole blog post on the first one. It’s a lot to think about.

More reason to get the next newsletter out sooner I guess 🙂

If you ever want to discuss any of the topics in this newsletter, I usually post a dedicated thread each week inside of the NewPulse Labs Facebook group.

You can also find previous issues of The Lab Report over at https://newpulselabs.com/newsletter.

Talk soon!