Fathom Analytics, founded in 2018 is a privacy-focused website analytics tool. We signed up for the 7 day trial to put it through its paces and see how it holds up as an alternative to Google Analytics.
There are a couple of obstacles to overcome before you start Fathom’s free trial. Firstly, you’re required to enter your credit card and billing address before you can try it out. You won’t be charged until the end of the trial and you can cancel and export your data anytime. However, if you’re evaluating Fathom, you will need to remember to cancel before the seven day trial is up in case you decide it isn’t for you. Otherwise, your card will be charged.
Secondly, you need to decide on a plan and have an idea of the number of pageviews you expect before you can try it out. Once you get over these obstacles, the process of signing up is straight-forward and intuitive.
See why your website visitors aren't converting
The free trial of Fathom Analytics is just seven days. If you have an established website with a steady flow of traffic, a seven day trial may be enough for you to evaluate Fathom. For a new website which may or may not have traffic, seven days puts you under a bit of pressure.
The signup process is divided into four screens and a confirmation screen.
On the first screen in the signup process, you need to choose a plan based on the amount of monthly page views you expect. Then, enter your email address, create a password and enter your credit card details. You cannot start the Fathom analytics seven day trial without providing your credit card and billing details.
Due to Fathom’s requirement for you to enter your credit card details to try it out, further billing details are required on the following screen including your Address and optional Company Name and VAT number.
Here you enter your website name and URL before proceeding to get the tracking code.
A correctly installed tracking code results in a reassuring “Hooray, the tracker is installed!” message and a link to your new dashboard.
Fathom Analytics provides aggregate metrics only, giving you a very basic overview of what’s happening on your website.
All of the visitor data Fathom captures is displayed on a single dashboard page in aggregate form, including Website Pages, Referrers, Device Types, Browsers and Countries.
Some headline stats at the top of the dashboard include a live visitor count, Number of Visitors, Site Bounce rate and Event Completions. Where relevant, each of these stats also includes a comparison with the previous period, based on the selected date range which is handy for noticing changes in your website traffic.
A trend chart showing changes to your traffic over time can be toggled between Visitors, Views, Average Time on Site, Bounce Rate and Event Completions by clicking on the headline stats above.
Fathom provides a simple interface to add new events and the one time we needed to consult the support documentation was to see the different ways to include the event code in my HTML.
Event metrics are then available in aggregate form on the dashboard, both as a headline stat under Event Completions and as an itemized list under Events at the bottom of the dashboard.
UTM tracking is available, although with a limited set of parameters. Cookie IDs and advertising IDs are not supported.
A UTM generator makes it easy to construct a URL with UTM parameters and aggregate data for referrers with UTM parameters is displayed in a list at the bottom of the dashboard under UTMs.
Filtering by date range is available in a dropdown at the top right of the dashboard.
Filtering by categories such as Device Type, Country or Event is also possible by clicking on the relevant row in the dashboard or on the small magnifying glass at the bottom of each panel. This is not immediately obvious until you discover it and causes the entire dashboard to refresh and show only data related to the filter you have added. However, it is relatively quick to get used to.
Basic email reports of headline aggregate stats are available for an individual website and also as a multi-site report if you are tracking more than one website with Fathom.
Fathom’s pricing plans range from $14 per month for 100,000 monthly page views to $274 per month for 25 million monthly page views.
This covers up to 50 websites with an additional charge of $14 per month for 50 more websites. Opting for yearly billing will get you two months free.
How useful you find Fathom will depend on your level of interest in your visitors. Like Google Analytics, Fathom only provides aggregate data with no way to explore individual visitors for deeper behavioral insights. This is extremely limiting if you want to understand your visitors and see why parts of your site aren’t performing better and why visitors aren’t converting.
Unlike Google Analytics, Fathom takes privacy seriously, is easy to use and doesn’t suffer from data latency so all information is in real-time.
Fathom Analytics is a very basic website analytics tool with a simple user interface and a couple of useful features for tracking website events and marketing campaign links. There is not much of a learning curve and while the support documentation is good, you may not need to refer to it often.
The big question is how to justify the $14 per month subscription cost for a handful of rudimentary metrics on a single page when there are alternatives that provide that and more for free.