Organizations utilize data to understand their customers better. They use data to deliver an improved customer experience. However, when it comes to privacy analytics, consumers are greatly concerned about data collection and data privacy practices.
A KPMG survey reports that 86% of the US population considers data privacy a growing concern. And more than half of the respondents showed concern about the level of data collection by companies.
Companies must implement technologies and practices that respect user privacy to address consumer uneasiness and build customer trust.
This article explains what is meant by privacy and its significance. We'll also explore what to look for in privacy-focused analytics and the five best privacy-friendly analytics tools.
Privacy: What is it, and how significant is it?
There have been various definitions of privacy from different fields, such as philosophy, sociology, etc.
Privacy is the fundamental right of security of every individual. Therefore, unauthorized access and disclosure of their personal information. It also includes the ability to control one's own information kept in various documents, files, databases, or websites.
Many countries provide their citizens with legal rights to privacy in their constitutions. Moreover, it is imperative for companies to abide by respective regulations that protect personal data.
The scope of privacy applies to any information that can be used to identify individuals. It is usually known as personally identifiable information (PII). It is related to security which concerns the appropriate use and protection of information.
Privacy matters because:
- Today's technology can identify individuals, monitor their behavior & transaction, track location, and oversee conversations. Such a degree of access to user information can negatively influence an individual's life and the disappearance of individual autonomy.
- Based on this data, entities can sell you products, build your narrative, and influence your decisions about various aspects of life.
Thus, privacy is paramount to protecting and respecting user data so they can freely enjoy their right. Privacy protection imparts control over your shared information so that others cannot manipulate your data and identity.
Related Read: Dealing with different types of discrepancy in data
What is privacy-friendly analytics?
Privacy-friendly analytics are the practices used to collect, measure, and analyze data. They are focused on the protection of individual privacy while delivering relevant insights. Using these practices, not only can individuals control personal data, but also businesses can make data-driven decisions.
Some other names used to refer to privacy-focused analytics include privacy-focused analytics, privacy-first analytics, and privacy-compliant analytics (more focused on regulatory compliance).
Data privacy applies to the collection and handling of sensitive information. This information is usually referred to as personally identifiable information (PII).
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as follows:
"Any representation of information that permits the identity of an individual to whom the information applies to be reasonably inferred by either direct or indirect means."
PII includes information such as name, financial information, social security number, biometric data, etc. Many regulations are in place to help organizations identify what data needs to be treated as PII. They balance the needs of organizations and individuals. Some of the data protection regulations include GDPR in the EU, CCPA in California, APPI in Japan, LGPD in Brazil, and more.
These data protection regulations govern how an organization handles the data related to customers, stakeholders, and employees. For instance, many regulations like GDPR and CCPA consider cookies as personal data.
Cookies are text files containing small data pieces. They are used on websites to remember and identify individual users and their preferences for subsequent website visits. In addition to session management, they are used for tracking and personalization. Thus, regulations discourage third-party cookies and fines organizations that violate them, like Google Analytics.
Related: Google Analytics Alternatives
Why should you consider privacy-friendly analytics?
Privacy-friendly analytics is important for both individuals and businesses. In order to protect the rights of the consumers and provide businesses with a level playing field, regulations step in to ensure user privacy.
Companies need to focus on privacy-focused analytics because of the following reasons.
- It is paramount for businesses to maintain privacy compliance and follow regulations that govern data practices. Using privacy-friendly analytics helps you meet this goal and avoid heavy fines.
- Don't fall prey to Google Analytics despite being free and popular. Google Analytics collects third-party cookies to capture user information in targeted advertisements. It is also not GDPR compliant. With Google Analytics, you pay with your customer data.
- Businesses should consider investing in privacy-focused analytics better to strategize the different stages of the customer life cycle. It helps identify trends, make data-backed decisions, and improve the bottom line.
- Every business is different, and analytics solutions let you track data in the way that best suits your business needs. You can track events specific to your requirements. Get insights related to various customer touch-points, such as websites and applications.
Key components of privacy-friendly analytics
Invest in a privacy-friendly analytics tool to avoid regulatory fines and keep your customers' trust. Here is a breakdown of the characteristics you should be looking at while hunting for privacy-focused analytics.
Individual control over personal information
User consent is essential to collect any data. It must be clear, obvious, and given freely. In addition to authorization, users must have control over their data. They must be able to:
- Access their data
- Correct anything wrong
- Erase any data
- Allow specific actions for data
Respecting data privacy is essential for businesses. It means not using and sharing user data without their consent. And only using their data for the reason it is shared.
Organizations collecting data should be able to manage user consent and data request. This means a system that can automatically change data requests based on the current status of consent.
Regulatory compliance is needed to provide the same level of competition. If some organizations collect mass data by violating regulations, they will have an unfair competitive advantage. This is one of the reasons businesses should incorporate privacy-friendly analytics.
To keep the control over personal data in the hands of individuals, ensure that your analytics software does not store PII data openly. Moreover, to keep personal data safe from public access, you can perform data hashing. It means transforming your data so it does not remain in the original (human-readable) form and cannot be stolen.
Collect and process data transparently
Transparency is an essential indicator of privacy-friendly analytics. It means that users have a clear knowledge of the following:
- Why do you need their data?
- How will you use their data?
- Will you share their data with third parties, and with whom and why?
User data is obtained directly from individuals as they engage with an organization. Therefore, it is more accurate, and the user is also aware of the purpose of its use. Choose privacy-focused analytics that is transparent about its processing methods of user information.
Data protection regulations play a vital role in implementing transparent data collection practices. If users don't trust your organization, they will try everything possible to avoid sharing data leading to less or inaccurate consumer insights, which can impact your business.
Collect first-party data
By focusing on first-party data, organizations can improve transparency. For example, first-party cookies store data on your website, not openly. And it can be accessed from your website directly via secure tracking using API integrations.
Using third-party cookies is a violation of the GDPR. Therefore make sure the tool you choose for tracking and analytics does not rely on third-party cookies.
Control Over Data Exchange
Businesses using analytics solutions must choose a privacy-compliant tool. It should be the only full data owner without exchanging data with other parties. Additionally, users should have access to their data logs (complete information on the clicks, conversions, etc.). Finally, the ability to remove or put the request for the removal of personal data at any time is another indicator of transparent privacy-complaint analytics.
Default data protection by design
Privacy-friendly analytics operate on the principle of 'privacy by design.' It means that organizations should have privacy as their default mode of operation and should not only rely on legal frameworks to ensure user privacy. Furthermore, this principle directs a proactive and preventive approach rather than a reactive one.
Two different methods can achieve it, and they are:
- Data Limitation: Focus on processing data related to a specific objective.
- Purpose Minimisation: Tell individuals about the goal before processing data.
Data protection is not limited to the collection and processing of the data but also spans to keeping data only until the purpose is fulfilled. Therefore, organizations need to adopt technical measures while designing data handling systems to ensure privacy in data processing operations.
Data security refers to the practices that protect data against unlawful access, stealing, and fraud. It encompasses hardware and software protection policies and procedures. Data security is essential for data privacy. Data breaches can result in a violation of data privacy. Therefore, privacy-first analytics practices should ensure the following:
- Mitigating the data leaks risks
- Keep analytics safe
- Process data as long as it is needed
- Prevent human errors
- Avoid malicious attacks
Incorporating such practices in your data privacy efforts can prevent organizations from incurring fines and reputational damage. Even high-profile companies like Uber (recently went through a data breach in September 2022) suffer from cybersecurity issues.
It is important to treat analytics data as personal data. Enhanced security techniques include regular data checks, limited access, and data backup. Using secure methods to access data, such as single-sign-on and secure HTTPS connections, also secure the data.
How can businesses benefit from privacy-friendly analytics?
Data analytics solutions are the key to unlocking valuable insights from the data generated by enterprises. Some of the major benefits for businesses using privacy-friendly analytics include the following:
Personalize your customer experience
Businesses can craft a personalized experience informed by customer behavior. By analyzing how your audience interacts with your products, you can create targeted campaigns to promote products that customers are interested in.
Customers are more likely to trust businesses that use their data to deliver a robust customer experience. They are less likely to trust companies that use ads to target them using personal information obtained through illegal access.
Make informed decisions
Businesses can leverage data to make decisions on solid grounds instead of mere intuition.
With insights from predictive analytics, companies can anticipate responses to any changes or new implementations. It saves businesses from incurring financial losses or negative brand image.
Streamline your operations
Organizations are always looking to improve their processes, minimize expenses, and attain efficiency. Privacy-friendly analytics complement this area of business as well.
Data analytics can help you identify bottlenecks in your operations, such as supply chain, to remove any production delays and forecast demand.
Mitigate risks and enhance security
Insights from data analytics solutions can help businesses mitigate risk by taking preventive measures at the right time.
Businesses can benefit from security enhancement. With increasing security theft, you can locate IT vulnerabilities, visualize audit logs, identify abnormal access attempts, etc. With Privacy-friendly analytics, companies can safeguard their user data against malicious attacks. They can monitor and place alert systems to detect and flag anomalies.
Which analytics platforms are privacy-friendly?
Let's look at the five best privacy-friendly analytics tools. We'll explain how these tools provide privacy-focused analytics, their features, GDPR Compliance, and pricing.
Usermaven is a website plus product analytics tool hosted in the EU. It is affordable, easy to set up, and super simple to maintain analytics solutions. As a privacy-concerned analytics tool, it offers the following key features.
- Usermaven has a straightforward interface with real-time analytics.
- It offers cookieless and privacy-friendly web analytics. It collects only necessary data anonymously. Thus there is no need to display cookie consent banners on your website. You can set custom event tracking, conversion, and goal tracking.
- Pixel white-labeling lets you collect first-party tracking with 100% accurate statistics.
- You can understand user behavior with Usermaven product analytics solutions using pre-built reports. It provides extensive features such as acquisition & onboarding analysis, product engagement metrics, feature adoption tracking, and retention analysis.
- Other features include end-to-end security of data, team collaboration, user control, 360 profile view, and more.
Usermaven is CCPA, GDPR, and PECR compliant. It prioritizes the security of user data while serving behavior analytics. Its robust privacy and security program ensure it meets privacy regulations. Some privacy-compliant practices include data protection officers, data deletion and export features, breach notifications, and data transfers.
Usermaven has three packages as follows. Businesses can avail custom plans based on their unique needs.
- Starter pack: It is designed for small entrepreneurial setups and is free forever. It allows one user, one workspace, and six-month data backup. It offers web and product analytics tracking up to 1 million monthly events.
- Pro package: The package starts at 14$ per month. It gives access to unlimited users, three workspaces, two-year data history, web analytics etc. Furthermore, it offers pixel-white labeling with enterprise-grade infrastructure.
- Premium package: The premium package starts at 99$ per month. It is for all SaaS businesses. It offers product and web analytics. You can enjoy unlimited user access, unlimited workspaces, and infinite work history with company-level analytics.
Plausible analytics is a lightweight and open-source analytics tool. It is easy to integrate and has a flexible API. You can use dashboard filters to gain in-depth insights. It allows you to analyze marketing campaigns from click to conversion with UTM tags. Other features include the following.
- It is easy to understand and implement. You get all essential data insights on a single page.
- It is privacy-focused, made, and hosted in the EU.
- It offers weekly or monthly data reports.
- You can use it to track events, goal conversions, and campaigns.
- Plausible is shareable privately with a secure link and publicly with a custom link. You can invite team members and assign roles.
The pricing plan starts from 9$ per month for 10k monthly page views. It goes up to 10+ million monthly page views. T includes 50 websites, 100% data ownership, custom events, unlimited data retention & team member, and email reports. You can relish a 30-day free trial before buying the actual plan.
Fathom analytics is another simple and excellent privacy-focused analytics tool. It bypasses ad-blockers so you can see all your visitors without compromising their privacy. Like Plausible, it is also open source and lightweight. It improves your SEO and page speed with on-demand and auto-scaling servers.
Dig your data with filters. Make your beautifully designed dashboard private, public, or password-protected.
- Get all your data on a single page for quick decision-making.
- It also has a dark mode. You can track marketing campaigns and events, from product sales to sign-ups and trail conversions.
- It offers data exports for all customers.
Fathom integrates with other tools with a single line of code.
Fathom works under GDPR, CCPA, PECR, and e-privacy compliance. It respects your data privacy by collecting website data anonymously. It lets you have complete control over your collected data. You do not have to use annoying cookie banners.
Fathom allows different packages for its users based on the monthly page views. It starts with 100k monthly views for $14. You can get up to 2 million page views with $74 a month. All packages include up to 50 websites, data ownership, uptime monitoring, email reports, data exports, and more. It also comes with a free 7-day trial to provide a taste of what it's like using Fathom.
4. Simple Analytics
Another clean and secure privacy-first analytics software is Simple Analytics. It is a Europe-based tool that guarantees the privacy of data. Its dashboard comes in light and dark modes to provide all necessary insights, such as page views, top pages, and more.
- You can keep an eye on your dashboard using your iPhone and add widgets.
- It bypasses ad blockers and always encrypts data.
- It auto-collects data such as downloads, email clicks, and outbound links and allows you to check the performance of each button.
- You can automate reports with scheduling options to save time.
Simple Analytics has three pricing plans for its users with monthly and yearly billing options.
- The Starter plan costs $19 per month and includes one user, ten websites, and 100k data points per month.
- The Business plan offers ten users, hundred websites, and 1 million data points with raw export costing 59$ per month.
- The Enterprise plan costs 99$ per month. It offers you more than 1 million monthly data points, 10+ users, 100+ websites, and email support.
Pirsch has one of the most beautiful analytics dashboards to get your detailed insights in a go. It is an open-source, cookie-free, and privacy-friendly analytics provider. Based in Germany, it follows European privacy laws.
- With a beautiful UI design, Pirsch is easy-to-integrate.
- Its dashboard has all the necessary insights related to your website, such as bounce rate, page views, time on pages, etc.
- Pirsch is mobile-friendly, meaning it provides data insight over smartphones and tablets.
- You can enjoy real-time insights and apply search filters.
- You can connect it to Google Search Console. It provides data about user searches that led them to your website.
- Pirsch empowers your team with dashboard sharing ability both privately and publicly.
- It lets you track conversion goals and events, it also notifies you when your target is achieved.
Prisch is privacy-oriented and respects your visitors by not tracking them across websites. It also never collects and sells identifiable information. You won't have to put cookie banners on your site.
Pirsch offers a 30-day free trial; after that, it comes with various packages based on how many monthly page views you have.
- It starts at $6 per month with 10k views and goes up to 100 million monthly page views costing $799.
- No matter the packages you choose, you can enjoy unlimited websites, admins, data ownership, custom event tracking, data exports, and email reports. You can choose monthly or annual billing as per your needs.
The final tool in our list of privacy-friendly analytics is Matomo. It is a popular and powerful web analytics software that offers detailed and actionable insights. You can use features like heatmaps, SEO keywords, A/b testing, and tag management.
- It is an open-source and flexible solution that can adjust to your needs with APIs and raw data access.
- Matomo gives 100% accurate data and does not perform data sampling. Thus, it offers a complete picture rather than an estimate.
- It provides support and guidance on how you can get the best from using Matomo.
- You can enjoy unlimited data and content tracking to understand user behavior better.
Matomo complies fully with privacy regulations. You don't have to worry about your data as they have strict data security and privacy rules. It offers 100% data ownership without tracking user consent and a transparent platform.
Matomo offers on-premise and cloud hosting.
- If you want to host it on your servers, Matomo is free with limited features. You would have to pay for advanced features as they would be treated as add-ons. These features include funnels, user flows, activity logs, and more.
- Cloud hosting has a discount on annual billing. Cloud hosting provides the most paid features in the self-hosted plan for 19 EUR per month.
- Moreover, all the plans include features like real-time user tracking, geo-location, custom alerts, privacy, and a customizable dashboard.
7. Piwik Pro
Piwik PRO is a great privacy analytics tool if you are looking for an enterprise-level solution. It meets the strictest data privacy regulations.
Piwik Pro Features
- The platform includes a suite of tools for analytics, tag management, customer data management, and consent management.
- With Piwik PRO, companies can make more informed decisions while respecting visitors’ privacy.
Piwik Pro Privacy Compliance
Piwik Pro has a strict privacy compliance policy and respects visitor privacy. It doesn't collect visitor data in the case when:
- A website visitor enables their browser's do-not-track setting.
- It gives you the option to exclude the following i.e. a query URL, user agent, or an IP address.
- A visitor didn't agree to have their data collected and used on your website.
- It has integrations with Google Ads, Google Data Studio & Google Search Console.
Piwik Pro pricing plan
Piwik Pro has two plans for their web and product analytics tool.
- Core plan includes 3 modules of Analytics, Tag Manager & Consent Manager. It includes 500,000 monthly actions, 14 month data retention, 10 websites, 10 reports and complies with GDPR, CCPA, LGPD.
- The enterprise plan has 4 modules i.e. Analytics, Tag Manager, Consent Manager & Customer Data Platform. It allows up to 1 billion monthly actions, 25 month data retention, dedication customer support and optional add-ons.
Data is growing exponentially as it continues to power more of our technologies and businesses. With increased global data privacy and protection concerns, companies must comply with privacy legislation.
Data privacy breach impacts both individuals and organizations. Thus, it is equally important for both. Incorporate privacy-friendly analytics such as Usermaven to complement your tech stack. You can start free with this simple yet powerful analytics platform. If you need support, you can request a product walk-through demo.
You can enjoy website and product analyticsunder the same roof as Usermaven. It is suitable for all kinds of websites and SaaS tools.
Is Google Analytics privacy friendly?
Google Analytics is not privacy-friendly by default and offers low-level privacy. It does not respect users' online privacy.
Is Google Analytics GDPR compliant?
How secure is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics provides secure tracking transactions and PII (personally identified information). Google uses HTTPS encryption to secure your website traffic.
Does Google Analytics collect personal information?
Yes, Google Analytics collects users' personal information, such as IP addresses, online identifiers, cookie identifiers, and device and client identifiers. It then uses this data for targeted advertisement with other Google products. In short, using Google Analytics means sharing your website visitors' data with Google.
Why is Google Analytics not GDPR compliant?
Google Analytics is not GDPR compliant. It uses third-party cookies to collect data, which does not comply with GDPR. Also, if you use Google Analytics on your website, in that case, you need to make certain disclosures and consent from your visitors for using cookies, local storage, and personal data for ad personalization.
What is GDPR in web analytics?
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European data protection and privacy regulation effective from May 25th, 2018. It applies to all companies and websites worldwide that collect user data on websites to target people in the EU. Even the businesses outside of the EU targeting Europeans need to comply with it to avoid legal action.