Founded in 2018 and in general release since 2019, Plausible is an open-source, privacy-focused website analytics tool. The 30 day trial gave us a chance to review it and see if it’s a good replacement for Google Analytics.
The process of signing up for the 30 day trial of Plausible spans four screens and a confirmation screen. No credit card or billing details are required to create an account and start the trial.
The simple register screen asks for your Name and Email Address and to choose a Password.
A four digit verification code will be sent to the email address you used to create your account. You’ll need to enter it on this screen before you can proceed and activate your account.
In addition to adding your website URL, you can set your time zone to ensure the time and date information and filtering in Plausible are accurate for your location.
Plausible offers a handful of rudimentary aggregate metrics for a very general overview of your website traffic.
See how visitors are really experiencing your website
It’s curious how many similarities there are between Plausible and Fathom, not just in the types of metrics they display but also how the dashboard interface is organized almost identically in both. Like Fathom, Plausible presents all the visitor data it collects on a single dashboard page in aggregate form.
A trend chart helps you to see how your traffic changes over time and can be toggled between Unique Visitors, Total Pageviews, Bounce Rate and Visit Duration using the clickable headline stats above. The headline stats also include a comparison with the previous period, based on the selected date range
The four panels below the chart display lists sorted by numbers of visitors. These include Top Sources (referrers), Top pages, Entry Pages, Exit Pages, Regions and Devices.
Goal tracking in Plausible lets you track aggregate data for events and page views. The screen for setting up goals is available on the Site Settings page which you get to via the dropdown menu labeled with your site URL, directly under the Plausible logo. This wasn’t immediately obvious to us.
Once you add a goal, you can then filter your dashboard metrics by that goal and a new Goal Conversions panel will appear at the bottom of the dashboard with a conversion rate for each goal.
UTM tracking is available to help identify visits from your social, email and ad campaigns. As with all data in Plausible, the website activity for these is only available at an aggregate level. UTM parameters are limited to the following: utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign, utm_content and utm_term.
Like Statcounter, Plausible can connect to your Google Search Console account to get the search keywords visitors are using to find your website.
Filtering by date range and category are both available in dropdowns at the top right of the dashboard. And yet another similarity with Fathom, you can add a category filter by clicking on the relevant row in the dashboard.
Some basic user management enables you to invite clients or colleagues to have either Admin or Viewer access to your account.
Plausible has two types of email reports. One is a report of your stats, available either weekly on Mondays or monthly on the 1st of the month. This is limited to total numbers of unique visitors and page views, bounce rate (for your entire site only) and top referrers and visited pages.
The other report lets you know if your traffic spikes above a certain number of current visitors. This number is set by you in the settings section.
There is no free plan available with Plausible and pricing starts at $9 per month for up to 10,000 monthly pageviews, increasing to $169 per month for up to 10 million page views.
This covers up to 50 websites with unlimited data retention and unlimited team members. You’ll get the equivalent of two months free if you pay yearly.
Protecting the privacy of the people who visit your website is important and legally required in many countries. This means not collecting or reporting on any information that could be used to identify an individual person. All of the analytics tools we reviewed respect this rule.
However, analytics tools like Plausible and Fathom have adopted an ideological approach to privacy, which may be inevitable since they have made privacy their unique selling point. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of usefulness.
Like Fathom, Plausible Analytics offers some basic metrics in aggregate form and all information is displayed in real-time. The simple interface makes for a gentle learning curve but insights into how visitors behave on your site are very limited.
Plausible will show you the percentage of your visitors who came from Facebook or Google Search for example, or what percentage of your visitors completed a goal such as reaching your order confirmation page. To grow your business, you need to understand your visitors at a more granular level. This isn’t about breaching your visitors’ privacy and finding out who they are. It’s about finding out what they did, how they experienced your website, what happened to those that didn’t make it to your order confirmation page.
More often than not, website owners are oblivious to many of the struggles their hard-earned visitors encounter while trying to use their websites. These struggles occur in between the page views and are revealed in the actions of individual visitors. Insights like these cannot be gleaned from the basic aggregate metrics available in Plausible, leaving you with a massive blind spot.