Companies use Matomo to collect data in a privacy-friendly way, and store data virtually anywhere. For many projects Matomo works fine. However, it employs basic analytics methods, lacks advanced features, and experiences performance issues. All that makes you look for alternatives, whether free or paid.
A lot of companies choose Matomo because it has a strong approach to privacy and is a great fit for small analytics projects at companies with a fairly high level of analytical and coding knowledge.
Matomo’s open-source heritage is useful in different ways. This tool offers code transparency, it can be constantly improved by the experience community, and so on.
Unfortunately, the platform’s disadvantages might be a dealbreaker for some projects. The way out could be a different piece of software.
In this article we’ll walk you through the alternatives. We’ll compare Matomo with Google and also show you what your options are if you want a free platform, or you manage less demanding projects or you run enterprise-scale projects.
We’ll discuss various advantages the alternatives could give you, such as:
- Options for visualizing, manipulating and comparing data
- Advanced analytics reporting
- High performance based on more stable infrastructure
- Privacy features including consent and data subject request management
- Better customer care and support
- Simpler pricing structure
If you are thinking of a Matomo alternative, you are probably considering Google Analytics. At a high level, we can sum up their differences this way: Google Analytics is modern and fast while Matomo is privacy friendly.
Matomo is not built for fast reports. Preprocessing of data can last for hours on high-traffic sites, or even for just an in-depth custom report. Google Analytics will produce such reports in seconds.
Read more about performance problems in: Matomo performance issues: What causes them and how to fix them
But Google Analytics falls short on privacy-friendly features. Matomo gives you full control of data and many ways to adjust how you obtain and act on your analytics data. For example, Matomo lets you self-host or store data on cloud servers outside the US. Google Analytics doesn’t give you this flexibility. This can make it harder to comply with data protection regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
If you’d like to know why data privacy is increasingly significant in analytics, then read our article: What is privacy-friendly analytics?
So, if compliance with laws such as GDPR is important to you, then Google Analytics might not be the best choice. Why? Transparency. You won’t know what countries your data is stored in. For GDPR, that could be a problem. Worse, individuals whose data is being collected won’t know exactly where their data is and how it’s being used. Google Analytics shares data with the vendor’s other products e.g. Google Ads, often without consent. This is an even bigger problem under EU rules.
Find the full list of Google’s data centers here. Read more about Google Analytics in: Is Google Analytics GDPR-compliant? 10 things to consider [UPDATE]
The free version of Matomo is great for businesses that run smaller analytics projects and have a high level of analytics skills.
But it’s clearly not working for everyone, as the market of solid free Matomo alternatives is expanding. Some of them offer advanced functionalities such as custom reports, integrated consent management and on-premises hosting.
That said, costless products always have some limitations, be it reduced performance, sampled data or a lack of privacy protections. The trick is to choose the platform with the limitations that will hurt you the least.
Here’s what to think about when considering free analytics for your next project.
Having tag and consent management gives you a solid foundation for your analytics projects.
A tag manager lets you control all the details of data collection and activation. It saves time on setting tags so you have more time to act on your data.
Consent manager allows you to handle consents and data subject requests, thus helping you comply with data protection laws like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Read more about handling data under the CCPA in: California Consumer Privacy Act and marketers: 5 actionable steps to follow
But most free tools don’t provide tag and consent management. If you decide to use one of these, you’d need to go for third-party consent and tag management systems that can integrate with your analytics platform.
Free versions limit the number of reporting features. Sometimes you can get most of the reports in the free and enterprise versions, but they have different limits. It can be the number of actions and websites, lack of user-level data or slow performance. The roadblocks could also be basic metrics that won’t let you analyze funnels, user flows, conversions, or do attribution.
Only a few free products have custom reports and flexible dashboards. These features allow you to adjust reports to your needs, pick dimensions and metrics, decide how you present data and later share those reports.
Moreover, most free versions don’t offer access to raw data and tend to provide only aggregate data. This translates into less flexibility to create visualizations and perform in-depth analyses and might cause you to miss some important details.
If you’re interested in learning more about those features, read our other articles:
With free analytics plans, in most cases you’ll have to rely on the vendor’s cloud storage. You won’t be able to choose the server location or host your data on-prem. Cloud storage is a good enough option for most of us. However, this could be problematic if you work in finance or healthcare. That’s because regulations oblige you to implement additional security protocols, often requiring you to keep data in a particular location, e.g. in-house. You might run into similar restrictions based on the countries where your organization operates.
Read more on how different countries approach data protection in 10 new privacy laws around the world
Analytics projects always grow in one way or another. It can happen that your data volume will increase along with traffic and you’ll require more speed. Or you might expand your project scope and want to export your data, have more metrics, advanced features, and customization options.
What can you expect from vendors in each scenario? For instance, when traffic grows, Matomo will slow down and you’ll have to deal with performance issues. Other vendors will sample your data, or you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan to handle higher traffic.
To get more advanced features and reporting flexibility your choice will be either a paid plan or a new platform. And then, will you be able to switch smoothly to a higher plan and keep your setup, tags and data, or will you have to start over again?
It’s better to know your options beforehand. Start with a platform that matches your current needs and will likely continue to do so in a year’s time. In this way you’ll avoid problems, be it sampling, limited functionalities, or basic reports and metrics.
It’s wise to understand why certain analytics platforms are free. Some vendors have free plans to promote their paid products. Their business model is more transparent, as you know how the vendor is making money.
For instance, you get a clear upgrade path with Woopra, Mixpanel, and Piwik PRO. With Countly and Matomo, it’s a bit more intimidating and complicated, and even more expensive as they offer basic functionalities and sell small add-ons.
With Google Analytics, on the other hand, the vendor profits from data you gather with their product. Google’s business model is based on selling targeted ads across its products. To create detailed audiences, the vendor uses the data obtained with Google Analytics.
This has big consequences for Google Analytics users. First, data privacy issues make it hard, and often impossible, to collect personal data. Second, since your data is available to others, you lose the possibility of working with a unique dataset, your competitive advantage.
|Custom reports or dashboards||Built-in consent manager||Built-in tag manager||On-premises hosting||Main limits|
|Amplitude||limited analytics reports and data analysis features|
|Cloudflare Web Analytics||stats based on a 10% sample; limited basic reports|
|Countly Community Edition||aggregate data, no raw data, event and view flows, no user profile, attribution analytics|
|Counter||aggregate data, basic reports;
only tracks the 1st page the user views
|Google Analytics (free)||sampled data, no raw data|
|Heap free||10k actions, no raw data, data warehouse & enterprise features|
|Matomo On-Premise||(paid plugin)||reporting speed 2 hrs or more, advanced analytics reporting mostly available as paid plugins|
|Mixpanel||100k actions, no enterprise features|
|Offen||6-month data retention, no data exports, location data|
|Open Web Analytics||basic reporting and limited tracking|
|Piwik PRO Core plan||500k actions, 10 websites|
|Woopra||no advanced reports & enterprise features|
Matomo is best suited for small analytics projects. With either version of Matomo, you can pick a few add-ons and stick to a modest budget. At this level, the limitations of the reporting engine hurt less. You might not need lightning speed and much flexibility.
That said, there are still many reasons to use a Matomo alternative for your small project. These can be flexible hosting, extra privacy features or high performance. You need to figure out what’s most important in your case.
Google Analytics limits you to 10 million actions per month, but doesn’t give you all the data. It leaves a big chunk out to utilize fewer resources. However, Google Analytics will handle high traffic without any problem.
Other platforms won’t handle traffic spikes as smoothly. Matomo’s reporting engine slows down considerably with large amounts of data. And even if the performance is there, you will have to pay for more analytics actions in most cases. It’s worth looking at what the pay scale is for adding more actions.
Consider having tag management as it lets you collect and activate data more easily and with better control. Also, consent management might come in handy for gathering more data from more places, e.g. from post-login areas.
It might be ok for you to have just basic statistics like anonymous data about visits and page views, bounce rate, and rough visitor location. And maybe you have lower traffic volumes to analyze. There are a few analytics platforms, e.g. Fathom Analytics, Simple Analytics and Plausible Analytics, that help you do exactly that.
But, you might want more options, like getting the complete individual user journey. Most platforms for smaller projects won’t let you merge your CRM data with visitors’ details. This means you won’t be able to figure out if the visitor who bought one item via the app is the same person who browsed your online catalog last week. However, that’s possible with Countly Enterprise and Piwik PRO Enterprise.
Analytics projects often involve collecting personal data. If that’s true in your case, look for a piece of software that’s privacy compliant. First, it gives you the peace of mind that your organization is aligned with data protection regulations, as they’re becoming more and more important.
Second, better privacy often means better data. Let’s say you want to track post-login areas, which often contain personal data. This is possible only with an analytics platform that handles such data appropriately.
If you’d like to learn more about personal data, read our article: What is PII, non-PII, and personal data? [UPDATED
If privacy is on your priority list, then it’s also best to have, among other things, a compliant way to store data. Certain countries across the globe have laws that require keeping their residents’ personal data within the country’s physical borders. If you gather and process personal data, it’s key to have control over where that data is kept and how it’s managed.
Some vendors, such as Fathom Analytics and Plausible Analytics, let you save data on in-house servers. With others you can rely on flexible cloud data residency. And with Countly Enterprise and Piwik PRO Enterprise, you can get both.
There’s also a third solution: you get the whereabouts of data storage but can’t pick a data center location. And if data residency is critical for your organization, then, for instance, Google Analytics might not be for you as the data has backups all over the world.
|Individual customer journey analysis||Built-in consent manager||Built-in tag manager||Flexible cloud data residency||Main limits||On-premises hosting|
|Countly Enterprise||Limited options in setting for the main web tracking|
|Fathom Analytics||basic analytics reporting available, 400k actions|
|Friendly Analytics||(Germany, Switzerland)||5 websites, basic analytics reporting|
|Google Analytics (free)||no raw data|
|Matomo Cloud||30 websites, reporting speed 2hrs|
|Piwik PRO Core||(Germany)||500k actions|
|Piwik PRO Enterprise||no detailed real-time reporting|
|Plausible Analytics||aggregate data, basic analytics reporting|
|Simple Analytics||(The Netherlands)||1M page views, basic analytics reporting|
Matomo is designed for small analytics projects. For bigger projects it might not cut it. To get more reporting options and flexibility, and overcome performance issues resulting from higher traffic, you’d need an alternative.
If you manage large projects, you want to use data in more places, send it to different tools, and act on that data. You may also intend to activate that data on other platforms like ad networks. That’s why your analytics software should let you utilize API, raw data, and provide integrations with tools you work on.
It should also give you more options to connect and enrich your data. The data has to be in a format that is useful for people who have coding skills, but also for those with less experience.
What else might be necessary for your projects? Let’s say you have thousands of customers in your database. It’s good to know what product pages they’ve browsed, what ebooks they’ve downloaded, how they’ve interacted in the post-login areas. You want to see their whole customer journey.
You’ll need to collect user-level data to do that and to get the attribution on the page right. It calls for a platform that gives you all that and properly handles personal data. With Matomo it’s not that easy, but there are other options on the market that fit that use case.
If you manage vast amounts of data, it’s good to have an efficient way to obtain consent. You won’t get that from Matomo, but Countly Enterprise, AT Internet, Mixpanel and Piwik PRO have built-in consent managers to help you with this task.
The bigger the amount of data, the more responsibility for you to take care of it in the right way. Your analytics software should be secure, so you won’t have to worry about possible data leaks or similar issues.
Additionally, as you take care of large projects you might seek some extra assistance. You could use some expert advice to make informed decisions, have a product walkthrough or consult on challenges you’re facing.
Finally, think about the long-term goals of your project in terms of money investment. A great option would be a pricing model that grows evenly, instead of forcing you into a huge price jump. Sometimes the fixed price covers features or services you don’t use. The most convenient one will be a flexible model that takes into account traffic volumes, functionalities, custom add-ons, and personalized services.
All said, you should also know what happens with your setup when you upgrade your plan. Whether it will be smooth so you’ll be able to keep all your settings, data and tags, or you’ll have to start from scratch.
|User-level data collection, import & export||Built-in consent management||Built-in tag management||Flexible cloud data residency||On-premises hosting|
|Countly Enterprise||(plugin)||(US, Brazil, UK, Germany, Belgium, India, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Australia)|
|Google Analytics 360|
|Piwik PRO Enterprise|
This comparison is based on the publicly available information gathered in September 2021.