66Analytics: A Powerful Self Hosted Google Analytics Alternative

Published: 1 month ago

This article is going to take a look at 66Analytics, a relatively new website analytics offering that can be self hosted on your own server. Open source analytics tools that are well designed and affordable are pretty much unheard of, making 66Analytics something that anybody should check out -- Especially if you're unhappy with the privacy and performance that Google Analytics has to offer.

66Analytics also sets itself apart from other solutions out there in that it has pretty advanced features like “Session Replays” (think Mouseflow), “Heatmaps” (think HotJar). We'll be taking a look at all of these and more in our walkthrough/review of the tool.

Our History With Google Analytics Alternatives

If you have followed this blog for some time, you will know that we are always interested in trying out Google Analytics alternatives. Google Analytics is a great platform, which is why it has the majority of the market share when it comes to website analytics. But at the same time, self hosting your analytics comes with a ton of benefits in the form of privacy, performance compliance, control, and the fact that it's just pretty cool.

Also, many self hosted analytics solutions are open source – and some are free (Matomo)!

Two articles that you may enjoy:

66Analytics, A Super Well Designed Self Hosted Website Analytics Platform

In our constant search for a quality Google Analytics alternative that is not only well designed but offers enterprise level features, we stumbled across 66Analytics which launched early last year.

Use Cases For A Self Hosted Analytics Platform

Self hosting anything could be a smart move if you are looking to save money and have ultimate control over your software.

Self hosted software is always less than software as a service competitors because it is typically free or a single time payment for the code. With that being said, you still need to host it yourself, meaning that you'll be paying for that. But, it's almost always a much lower cost.

The other major selling point is control. When you self host your software, you have complete control over the server environment, the data collected, and how it is run and managed.

Also, another benefit that is specific to 66Analytics it the “lightweight mode” -- The tracking script is only 6 kilobytes, which is seriously beneficial for your website performance.

Unique Pricing And Licensing

We usually go over pricing at the end of these articles, but this is a major differentiator for this product, so let's take a look at it now, before looking at installation, major features, and ease of use. This analytics tool is an open source, self hosted offering, but to gain access to the code, you need to pay for it.

There are two license classes that you can choose from, personal use, and something else entirely. Both include lifetime future updates, six months of installation support, unlimited users, unlimited websites, and unlimited tracking. The only thing that you need to provide is the hosting server, which would probably be billed monthly, but be much cheaper than other paid analytics solutions.

The personal license class comes in at only $79 as a single time payment. If you consider the fact that you get access to heat Maps and session recordings, a single $79 price becomes incredibly affordable when compared to something like MouseFlow, which is billed as a monthly SAAS subscription.

The other license is very unique, and allows you to start your own paid service. Essentially, it allows you to host a analytics service, and gives you access to a invoicing system, billing system, discounts integration, and it works with stripe and PayPal. That's pretty cool, but it costs $549, so it's a bit pricey as well.

Would you be interested in an "Isotropic Analytics" service, using the extended 66Analytics license, and being offered as a lifetime deal?

Haven't really thought about pricing, but it would probably be a LTD that's much less than the personal use license, and/or a low cost monthly sub for ~$4.

It may be a great idea if you are an agency, or run a popular blog dedicated to WordPress website owners and creators, like we do.

The main takeaway here is that is a single time payment for a lifetime license (unlimited access, limited free support – currently 6 months).

66Analytics: Setup and Installation

Installation is straightforward, but because we just took a look at the public demo, we can’t speak on actually setting up the software. But, from reading the documentation it is as simple as it could possibly be, and even if you are technically inclined, you should be able to get it set up.

First step is adding the website. This essentially registers it on the system, and helps you generate your tracking code which is installed in the header of your website.

Once you have installed the tracking code in your website (on WordPress you would do this by using something like advanced scripts and initializing the HTML snippet in your WP_head), you verify that it is installed, and you're good to go.

You can add many individual websites, tracking multiple properties under 1 dashboard, just like Google Analytics and other offerings in the industry.

Two Tracking Modes

There are two tracking modes, a lightweight mode, and a full mode. The lightweight mode utilizes a < 6 kB tracking script, And does not install any cookies or local storage. What that means is that you do not need to get user consent, and it is completely compliant with all major privacy regulations such as the CCPA and GDPR.

The full tracking mode allows you to access the big features such as session recording, individual user information, and more. Of course, you will need to collect consent to be compliant to most privacy regulations when using this (as is the case with Google Analytics and others).

Privacy Benefits

We touched upon this fact when discussing self hosting, but the primary benefit with this tool over many others is the fact that you have complete control and ownership over the data that you collect. Not only is this good for you and your customers, but it can also help you be compliant with most privacy regulations if you collect personally identifiable information. As we stated above, a major use case that we see with this self hosted, but enterprise level analytics platform, is being compliant with HIPAA while still collecting high quality user information.

The Dashboard Design, And Actually Using It

As we wrote this article and did the research to publish it, we installed and ran the demo pixel tracking code on our production website. This gave us a little bit of data to mess around with, and filled up the dashboard. Here's what the main page looked like:

You actually get a bunch of helpful information like this screen resolution, browsers, operating system, and of course the pages that your visitors ended up on. This may seem trivial if you're coming from Google analytics, but unfortunately many of the other self hosted analytics alternatives out there are missing out on these basic features.

You can then expand each metric to get more data on the specific category. For example, the above screenshot is the data that we have on our pages.

And here are our referring domains:

Then, you can also dive deep into the data collected on individual visitors, understanding how they moved through your website, and if they came across any roadblocks:

You can see the country they came from, the system they're using, the number of sessions, and more. This feature is disabled if you're using lightweight mode, as it is tracking identifiable information, meaning that you need to get user consent.

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In the real world, this feature would probably be connected to your website or application login and user management system, so you can track actual customers.

This self hosted analytics solution also comes with a basic real time views feature, similar to Google Analytics, but offering a bit less in data resolution (IE you don't know what city each user is coming from):

All of this data can easily be filtered and exported two CSV or a PDF report.

The design of the platform is incredibly clean and easy to understand. It's definitely a major selling point of this software, especially when you compare it to other self hosted, open source analytics tools. This is designed like a premium software as a service offering, and it's very easy to use and navigate.

There's even a dark mode that you can toggle on:

You're buying into a very well featured and well designed self hosted analytics platform. Every aspect of the dashboard looks polished , and not at all like a product that was launched one year ago.

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Tracking Custom Goals

You can track custom goals by using the standard URL endpoint method, or integrating custom events directly into your website.

You can use this data, paired with other information gathered by 66Analytics to understand if your website is doing what it is designed to do. For example, if you want a user to purchase a specific product when landing on an individual page, understanding the events that take place, and coupling this data with session recordings and heat Maps can help you optimize the user flow for conversions.

Major Features (Still In Beta)

There are several major features that are currently in beta. The two that we're most excited about are the heat Maps and session recordings, both incredibly important analytics tools and super helpful if you own an ecommerce shop.

Session recordings is a literal video of what the user did on your website. You are essentially user testing your own product using your own live traffic. By watching the video, you can understand how your customers think, and if they encounter any roadblocks or bugs. From that, you can improve upon your design and the user flow ideology.

The heatmaps feature is a well designed and modern heatmap solution, which allows you to understand click, view, and visitor data in bulk, while utilizing a visual interface. There are different heat Maps for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. From what it looks like, this heatmap software is pretty basic, but one should consider the fact that it is still in beta, and you have lifetime access to updates. As this heat map tool evolves, it will probably end up rivaling the paid software as a service monthly subscription tools.

Hosting 66Analytics

We only messed around with the open demo, but found a couple of interesting pieces of information in regards to hosting 66Analytics from the documentation and Producthunt launch page.

The recommended hosting environment comes from digital ocean, which is as cheap as $5 per month. As per a comment, you can easily run analytics on this pricing tier for up to several thousand website visitors. Because digital ocean is a cloud provider, you can easily scale when need be, and also monitor your CPU and ram usage in the back end. That makes it easy to only pay for what you need.

We have self hosted a ton of other open source projects on a $5 month Digital Ocean droplet, and setup is always very easy. If you take a look at the documentation for 66Analytics, it walks you through a step by step instructions, and looks to be incredibly simple.

Also, if you use our referral link, you can get $60 in DO credits, while giving us some credits too!

Other Enterprise Level Features

It really looks like this tool was made for avid website owners and enterprise level applications alike. That's because there is a powerful team management system, where you can invite other members to view and manage the analytics. There are also email notifications, where you can send a daily, weekly, or quarterly report of everything going on in regards to the site(s). And of course, with whatever license plan you opt for, there is unlimited statistics an unlimited websites that you can add.

Pairing With Google Analytics?

While this software is marketed as standalone analytics solution, allowing you to get rid of Google Analytics altogether, an interesting use case would be combining this with whatever analytics tool you are currently using. That's because of these single time payment and unlimited users, unlimited updates, and unlimited websites. Google Analytics does not come with heatmaps or session recordings, and those features are typically reserved to paid software as a service offerings. This now offers competition to that, meaning that you can use Google Analytics for your major analytics platform, and 66Analytics for session recording and heatmaps when needed.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a self hosted analytics platform that allows you to retain ownership over your user data, comply with privacy regulations, and/or access advanced features that are otherwise reserved for monthly software as a service subscriptions, 66Analytics is definitely worth taking a look at. For a one time payment of $79, you can have access to all of this, as well as the incredibly designed dashboard, and future updates.

Would you be interested in an "Isotropic Analytics" service, using the extended 66Analytics license, and being offered as a lifetime deal?

Haven't really thought about pricing, but it would probably be a LTD that's much less than the personal use license, and/or a low cost monthly sub for ~$4.

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Mateusz
22 days ago

Hey James, have you tried to set it up with WooCommerce?

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