Everyone and their uncle today knows about Google Analytics. Launched in 2005, the tool has become a major staple for businesses today that want to track their website traffic and user behavior. It’s easy to install and use and doesn’t require a lot of overhead.
The general purpose of GA is to help the individual or business owner understand the effectiveness of their marketing, SEO, and advertising spending. If you’re running any kind of business, then Google Analytics is your go-to resource for understanding who is visiting your site, from where, and with what device, as well as the impact on advertising and marketing dollars.
On the other hand, if you talk to the average person on the street about real user monitoring or RUM for short, you’re more likely to draw some blank stares. Real user monitoring is a form of web monitoring that records all client interactions with a website or application at a much more granular level and digs into metrics the average user likely has never heard about. This analysis will include such events as DNS resolution, TCP connection time, SSL encryption negotiation, first-byte transmission, navigation display, page render time, TCP out-of-order segments, and user think-time.
In today’s fast-paced digital universe, it’s important to know the differences between these two forms of tools as they’re intended to achieve significantly different outcomes. In the following, we outline 6 major ways Real user monitoring differs from Google Analytics and what that really means for your business.
1. Use Cases
The purposes and uses cases for Google Analytics and RUM differ significantly. Google Analytics is instrumental for the collection and analysis of web data for SEO, lead generation and conversion tracking — an overall improvement of marketing efforts.
Real user monitoring instead focuses more on the actual root causes of performance issues that users may experience. This could encompass understandings of where and why a user is experiencing slow page load times (is it the browser, network, server, or content download that is taking more processing time?), what geographical area is impacted, and how these issues are impacting SLAs.
2. Data Sets
One major way that RUM and Google Analytics differ is in their approach to data samples. Google takes a snapshot of performance data, which means that only a certain percentage of hits is considered for analysis.
RUM, on the other hand, takes in 100% of your page hits to analyze your web monitoring status. RUM is for businesses that require up-to-the-second monitoring of user interactions on the company website or application. It’s about ensuring that the experience is seamless and stable across all domains.
3. Real-Time Analysis
Google Analytics contains a certain latency in its data, which means that the analysis is not real-time, i.e. access patterns and key metrics are observed over a period of days.
On the other hand, Real user monitoring, as its name implies is focused on “real-time” analysis so that administrators can respond promptly to change or fix issues. For example, if users are experiencing degraded performance, such as pages or specific elements of the page loading slowly, then Real user monitoring can provide instant feedback to pinpoint the root cause.
4. Security and Privacy
Another major difference between Google Analytics and RUM is about where the data resides. With the former, the data lives on Google’s servers. Real user monitoring platforms offer the option of storing the data on-premises in your data center. This amounts to a big difference when it comes to securing your proprietary data and keeping it private.
5. Intranet Applications
Google Analytics is primarily intended for general web traffic and cannot distinguish, for instance, between traffic utilizing Intranet applications within different locations of a corporate Wide Area Network (WAN).
The scenario for RUM is different; administrators can review both general web traffic and corporate intranet traffic, and can search performance data for specific office locations via subnet mapping of IP addresses.
6. Target Audiences
Google Analytics and RUM are generally intended and used by different types of target audiences. GA will often be used by marketing teams to understand how a web page is performing towards meeting specific SEO and lead generation benchmarks. It’s also used by web development and UX teams to test design and functionality behaviors for optimizing the user experience.
Real user monitoring is used more by application and business owners to check if poor website performance is impacting business outcomes or ROI. RUM also provides a basis for Helpdesk, IT Ops, and DevOps teams to diagnose and resolve issues more quickly.
At the end of the day, the differences between Real user monitoring and Google Analytics boil down to addressing different types of business needs: user behavior and end-user experience. The aspect of user behavior, which GA is great for, will detail traffic sources and how users navigate around a website and how often they convert.
RUM focuses much more on overall end-user experience from the perspective of website performance; it wants to know what factors may be slowing the site down and how these impact business outcomes. Knowing these differences is important for ensuring your organizations is on track and addressing unique business problems with the right sets of tools and technologies.
A great way to get started is by using the real user monitoring tool offered by Monitis. What this service essentially does is collect valuable data about your users’ interactions with your website and shares it in a clear and meaningful way on your dashboard so that you instantly see your site’s strong points, weak points, along with a wealth of other valuable information. Page views and load times are broken down by the browser, platform, and geographical location and monitor how your business website performs in real-time from a specific web browser, OS, or country. Monitis Real user monitoring can be used standalone or for greater precision in general performance overview can be easily integrated with other Monitis tools such as Uptime Monitoring, Transaction Monitoring, and Full Page Load Monitoring.