Why Did We Implement the New Google Analytics Authentication Flow (Challenges Explained)

ExactMetrics Challenges and Solution

The new version of ExactMetrics is a significant rewrite of the old plugin.

We invested a lot of resources in the revamp, so we can add new features faster, ensure your analytics data is always accurate, and most importantly make sure that we can continue to show analytics reports inside your WordPress dashboard in the easiest way possible for both new and existing users.

During this process, we had to make several hard decisions, but we made them with a lot of thought and consideration to ensure the best future for the plugin.

The Challenges

As ExactMetrics (formerly GADWP) grew in popularity, it opened us to a suite of new challenges that you simply don’t face when the plugin is smaller.

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Our plugin like every other Google Analytics plugin relies entirely on the Google Analytics API, and each app developer has a restricted quota limit per day.

While this API limit can be raised upon request to Google, the process has gotten harder given the size and growth of ExactMetrics over the years.

This puts both you (users) and us (developers) in a tough spot because when more users login to their WordPress dashboard every day, then towards the end of the day users start seeing API limit exceeded errors instead of the analytics reports.

This left us with very few choices.

We could remove the dashboard widget entirely and move reports to an internal page which won’t be visited every time someone logs in to WordPress. This would temporarily solve our API quota limit issue, but this wouldn’t be ideal for users.

We could change the onboarding process and require all users to register their own Google Developer App before using our plugin. This solution would solve our API quota issue (because it passes the problem to users), but it would also make the plugin impossible to use for every website owner who is not a developer.

We could also waive our hands in the air and stop supporting the free plugin altogether. This of course doesn’t help anyone, and we would never want do that.

Our Solution

After a lot of thought and consideration, we made the decision to implement a new Google authentication flow which ensures the plugin continues to be easy to setup for non-techy users.

This also allowed us to upgrade to a more secure method of Google oAuth.

We reduced the number of data points displayed on the dashboard widget to only the most important metrics (new visitors, pageviews, avg session duration, and bounce rate).

Other items like new vs. returning visitors chart, device breakdown report, top countries report, top referral sources report, and top posts / pages report were moved to the Overview Reports screen which is available to all users in our free plugin.

This way everyone still get to keep access to these analytics data inside their WordPress dashboard, but it’s just moved to a different screen which is accessible with a single click instead of loading upon every login which was bleeding our Google API quota limit.

The only downside to this solution was that every user would have to re-authenticate when they update to ExactMetrics 6.0 in order to see their analytics reports inside the WordPress dashboard.

We built the solution in a way that it would NOT impact your tracking code at all. Even if you don’t re-authenticate, we made sure that your tracking codes will continue to work as-is, so there would never be a gap in analytics tracking.

You can always see all your reports in Google Analytics. When you re-authenticate to ExactMetrics, then the reports will also be available in your WordPress dashboard.

We understand that this meant few additional clicks for those with multiple websites, and we truly appreciate your patience and support through the process.

We did not make this decision lightly, but in order for us to keep the free plugin working, this was a necessary step.

Introducing a Premium Version

At ExactMetrics, we share the same views on privacy as Apple: “Our customers are not our product, and your data is not our business”.

Up until this point, ExactMetrics was 100% free for everyone. We relied on a donation model which clearly doesn’t work. We rarely saw any donations from users, and this simply isn’t scalable because we have full-time team members working on the product.

To ensure that ExactMetrics as a product have a sustainable future, we introduced a premium version of the plugin.

This way users who want to see more advanced reports which didn’t exist in the old version like Search Console report, detailed Ecommerce reports, detailed Publisher Report, and other heavy API quota items like real-time reports, more detailed dashboard widgets, etc can upgrade to the premium version.

Developers and agencies who want a quick way to setup advanced tracking integrations for clients like Enhanced Ecommerce for WooCommerce, MemberPress, Easy Digital Downloads, LifterLMS etc. can upgrade to the premium version.

Our hope is that the introduction of a modestly priced, full-featured, premium plugin will allow us to continue the work that we do on the free plugin to helps over a million website owners see the stats that matter.

We know that everyone uses ExactMetrics to properly setup Google Analytics that’s beyond just pasting the script. This is why we kept all the important / most-used advanced tracking features like event tracking, enhanced link attribution, affiliate link tracking, etc. available in the free plugin.

The new guided wizard even helps beginners users setup these powerful tracking features automatically, for free.

Not to mention with the new update, these tracking features are even more accurate than before because they use the latest standards.

Our Commitment to a Bright Future

We know that change is hard, but this update was done with the best of intentions.

I truly appreciate your patience and support through this process as we continue to improve the ExactMetrics plugin.

We are committed to helping more website owners grow their business’ faster with data-driven decisions.

Sincerely,

Syed Balkhi
CEO of ExactMetrics

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Comments

  1. What’s the difference between ExactMetrics and MonsterInsights? And why build two exact product that does exactly the same thing?

    1. Hi Austin,

      Every Google Analytics plugin for WordPress offer similar features including ExactMetrics, MonsterInsights, Google Site Kit, etc.

      The difference comes down to how each team aims to tackle reports and other analytics features. Yes, we did use MonsterInsights code base to make a fork for ExactMetrics 6.0, but we did this to get a head start.

      Our goal is to have one product catered more towards analytics beginners while the other one would target more power users. Introducing a premium version for EM will allow us to ensure a sustainable future for this plugin 🙂

      We appreciate your support.

  2. I can understand some of what you are saying, and I’m not opposed to a premium version. However you are using very intrusive upsell that is a bit misleading to new clients. One of my clients thought their website had been hacked after this update. I wish you much success, but this intrusive upsell is a show stopper for me.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      We appreciate your patience and support through out this process. We’re continuing to work to improve the plugin and are actively listening to user feedback.

      If you have ideas on how we can make it better, please send us an email to our support, so we can continue to serve you and the larger community better.

      Once again, thank you for your understanding and support.

  3. Whatever this is about, it sucks big time. It totally froze my dashboard, even after I jumped through the hoops it required. Completely stopped me from doing anything to work on my site – complete crap.

    1. Hey Drew,

      We introduced the guided wizard to help make it easier for non-techy users to re-authenticate and enable all the right settings.

      In version 6.0, several users reported a bug with Safari which we quickly fixed in our version 6.0.1 update. If you’re still noticing any issues, can you please let our support team know so we can help fix it asap.

      We appreciate your patience and support 🙂

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