GetClicky sucks: an Analytics service going out of business?

A year or so ago I did a roundup of the major free Web Analytics services. I was interested to see how Google Analytics had affected the market: was there a market left any more?

One of the trials I signed up for I found so useful I carried on using after I’d written the review. GetClicky had a lot less information than some services – including GA – and less detail than the free tools I already run on all my websites (e.g. AWstats). But it was a lot more user-friendly, presenting the most critical information all at once on a single screen.

Today I finally started disabling GetClicky on my sites; the company has forceably blocked my site from their service. Why? Because I had a week of heavy traffic *while I was using the premium version which allows unlimited traffic*. That’s it. I stayed within their requirements, but I was banned anyway. That suggests to me that their company is in trouble…

What went wrong?

My AppRejections.com site – a small blog chronicling Apple’s submissions process for iPhone apps – got hit by a storm of traffic for one week. I’d only started the blog a week or so earlier, and I hadn’t got around to adding analytics to it yet (it only had 5-10 hits a day!).

Once the traffic surge started, I panicked and quickly setup a GetClicky account for it. As a new site it was signed up for the GetClicky “free premium trial”, which allows the site to have unlimited traffic (more on this later). The traffic surge ended a few days before the free trial ended.

The site is now running at less than half the “limit” for a non-premium account. Well within the company’s rules. But when the trial ended, I received an email telling me they were cancelling my free account too, because my site has too much traffic.

So, assuming it was an automated email, and that they’d understand if I explained:

My site doesn’t average that much any more – it was a few days blip.

Presumably the getclicky stuff will carry on working?

To which I got a snarky email from them – NB: they have the FULL DATA on this site, they could easily have used their brains and checked:

The limit for free traffic is 3,000 daily page views. Your site has been above this number for every single day of your trial except the last 2 days. That’s not a “blip” in my opinion!

Hmm. OK. Snarky, but at least human. Let’s explain in more detail what happened (which they could corroborate easily if they cared):

I accidentally got a massive spike of traffic on a tiny blog – I
went from 10 hits a day to 50,000 a day – which made me realise that I
had no stats tracking, so I enabled GC. That traffic is now gone, it
was a flash-in-the-pan thing.

Response? They banned me. All stats stopped functioning.

GetClicky’s problems

When I reviewed the various options for analytics, the interesting problem was that GA was providing the most powerful service … and doing it for free. Arguably Google shouldn’t be allowed to do this – it’s standard monopolistic behaviour – but having done the review of alternatives, I think it’s fine.

GA is so incredibly difficult, complicated, and user-unfriendly that most people use it, but get less of out it than if they were using ANY of the direct competitors.

Google is providing an “everything but the kitchen-sink” product which is really targetted at corporates who can afford to pay full-time staff to customize and manage their GA setup. For the rest of the world, Google is offering nothing more than a lowest-common-denominator product; the field is wide-open.

The problem now for other analytics companies is how to monetize in this arena. There are some notable successes, such as the URL-shortening companies, who offer analytics on stats that are simply not physically accessible by GA.

But in my experience, most of the analytics companies today have poor strategies for how to thrive and grow in the shadow of GA.

What are they doing today?

GetClicky is a great example: there are only two significant advantages to their premium product:

  1. The adverts on the stats page disappear
  2. You are allowed more than 3,000 visitors / day

Normally, removing two small ads from a webpage wouldn’t be worth paying for (at least not since 2000; we’re all so used to seeing ads now that we don’t care). But GetClicky’s webpaged are rather badly written, and they block on downloading the advert-code. The advertisers webservers are often a lot slower than GetClicky’s, and you can often wait 10 seconds for a stats page to load, of which 9.9 seconds was waiting for the advert.

But, essentially, their value proposition comes down to:

A couple of trivial concepts in “forced monetization” that wouldn’t be out of place in the late 1990’s.

There seems to be no real attempt to find stuff that modern consumers care about. For instance, the screamingly obvious USP for GetClicky – they have the most user-friendly of all analytics services, bar none – is completely ignored by the company.

Growth

As a GetClicky user, I wanted to access their site on my iPhone. A year ago, you could access their website and get an iphone-only version of the site. It was using the fake webpages that pretend to look like an iPhone app.

Now, even that has been withdrawn, and their own support forums are full of people asking “when can we get an iPhone client?”, with answers dated late 2008 (over a year ago!) saying “we can’t tell you what, but something exciting will appear very soon now”.

This is ridiculous. Checking live website-analytics on the iPhone is a classic example of a service that users desperately want … and it fits perfectly with GetClicky’s USP as a company.

So … since I *am* an iPhone developer … I approached GetClicky’s Business Development guy, and asked him if there was an iPhone app in development. I added that if there weren’t, I’d like to go ahead and make one myself – either contracted to them, or as a standalone product that they’d get some secondary benefit from (it makes their service better) but they wouldn’t be able to charge for (because they didn’t own it).

A week passed, with not even a single brief email response.

The nail in the coffin

Go look at the front page of http://www.GetClicky.com/. In passing, note the testimonials – all these are about usability (but the company refuses to make money out of the usability!).

Focus on the “who uses our service” part. Wow. Lots of famous, big name websites there. Um. No. None that the target audience is likely to know or care about.

What are they selling to here? Are they trying to go head to head with GA for corporate clients? Are they targetting marketing depts internally – NOT the technical depts – who just want ease-of-use? Are they going after the small website owners, who don’t have the time/money to learn how to use GA?

Honestly? I don’t think they have any idea themselves… Which is rather sad, because it gives me little confidence they’ll still be around 5 years from now.

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