Who’s Who? SmarterStats vs. Google Analytics

One of the biggest benefits of having an online store is the ability to gather data on the number of visits your store is getting. This perk is especially apparent with Volusion, since all of our stores come with SmarterStats and can be easily updated to use Google Analytics as well.

If you’re using both SmarterStats and Google Analytics, you may start to notice some differences in the data. Not to worry, the programs aren’t malfunctioning; it has to do with the differences in the tools themselves.

Let’s start by learning a little more about each of these resources:

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SmarterStats vs Google Analytics

SmarterStats is a third-party reporting tool that you can use to view information about who is visiting your store, when they visit, how much bandwidth they’re using and other visitor-related metrics. When you have a Volusion store, SmarterStats is already installed and collecting data from day one. In order to look at the data it’s collected for your store, go to your my.volusion and look under “my store > view stats.”

Google Analytics, on the other hand, is a free service offered by Google that generates statistics about visitors to your store. In order to get stats from Google Analytics, you have to do two things: 1) sign up for a Google account and 2) install Google’s custom code on your website by accessing your store’s HTML and copy-pasting the code snippet in the header.

Now that we’ve gotten to know SmarterStats and Google Analytics a bit better, here are three big ways they differ when it comes to collecting visitor data and bandwidth usage:

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1. SmarterStats monitors your storefront and your store admin, while Google Analytics can only monitor your storefront

Although both SmarterStats and Google Analytics can provide information about your storefront, only SmarterStats can get visitor and bandwidth information about your store admin. In terms of your visitor data, the only people who have access to your store admin are you and your staff, so the data from your admin will be your own. (Note: Information on your own visits to your store admin can also be viewed in your admin history.)

When it comes to bandwidth usage, SmarterStats will tell you how much you’re using from your store admin functions, including any bandwidth costs from Volusion API tasks. Google Analytics, in contrast, can’t report any of this information because it cannot be installed on your store admin.

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2. SmarterStats is software, whereas Google Analytics is based on JavaScript

SmarterStats and Google Analytics serve the same purpose, but they go about it in two very different ways. Google Analytics is based on JavaScript code, which means that if the script fails to load, or if the page doesn’t load all the way, the visitor information and bandwidth usage will not be recorded. SmarterStats, on the other hand, can still track views and bandwidth usage, even if the page doesn’t load all the way because SmarterStats is software based on Microsoft’s Silverlight.

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3. SmarterStats tracks all visits, while Google Analytics tracks most visits

The software vs. JavaScript difference affects the way each tool tracks visits: SmarterStats tracks all visits, whereas Google Analytics doesn’t. Many browsers have extensions or plug-ins that are specifically designed to ignore the Google Analytics script, so any user with these extensions won’t have their visits tracked. With SmarterStats, on the other hand, there’s no way for a viewer to “opt out.” Since SmarterStats isn’t based on code, there’s no extension that could hide a visitor from your stats. Google Analytics also automatically excludes your own bandwidth usage from the statistics it shows you. Although there is the option to do this in SmarterStats, the default setting is that it will include your bandwidth as well, so that you get the raw, unfiltered version of your visitor and bandwidth data.

 

Everyone can agree that SmarterStats and Google Analytics are useful tools for you as an online business owner. With these differences in mind, however, you can now see why these two tools may sometimes come up with different numbers. At the end of the day though, they’re both there for your benefit, so use them!

Happy selling!
-Gracelyn Tan, Volusion

About 

Gracelyn was a Communications Specialist at Volusion. She has a BA in English and Philosophy from Rice University, and when not reading or writing, she's dancing, meeting new people or winning staring contests with her cat.

2 Responses to “Who’s Who? SmarterStats vs. Google Analytics”

  1. Seam

    Can both of these scripts be used at the same time?

    Reply
  2. Jay

    If SmartStats is based on Microsoft Silverlight, doesn’t that mean you need the Silverlight plugin to use it? And wouldn’t that mean that you can’t use it at all on mobile devices?

    Reply

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