An introduction to Matomo Analytics

Matomo Analytics is the most famous piece of Free Software in the realm of Digital Analytics. It mainly provides quantitative analytics but, to some extent, it can also offer qualitative analytics. As a Free Software, you can always develop plugins for it in order to introduce data coming from the competition in your analysis.

Matomo Analytics is sometimes seen as a clone of Google Analytics. The reason is that Google Analytics being the main actor in the analytics scene, its features are seen as a standard. It is then is no surprise that its competitors find some inspiration in it.

The origins of Matomo Analytics can be found in 2006 when it was called PHPMyVisites back then. To put things in perspective, Google Analytics was created in 2005 after the acquisition of a solution named Urchin. Actually, Matomo's name has changed several times: at first it was called phpmyvisites (if you go visit the website, you would find that it is in French, the founder of the project being... French), it then became Piwik, and now Matomo. The Matomo Analytics software is thus an old project, and that is the reason why it is so popular and so advanced. There is not that much competition in the Free software area. R&D takes time and developing an analytics software is not as easy as it seems. Matomo Analytics has been created because of the frustration that there was no alternative within the Free software Analytics environment to Google Analytics.

Matomo Analytics Market Shares

According to W3tech, Matomo Analytics is credited of 2% market shares compared to 85% for Google Analytics. Source:

This might seem quite low but (and this is a huge but) Matomo has a cost compared to all its competitors. It is not a cost in terms of licensing as it is Free Software and can run well without paid plugins. The cost is linked to the fact that one has to install it on a web server, and you have to pay for the hosting. So to speak, Matomo is the first analytics solution people are ready to pay for. Remember though that if an organization has already a web server, they will not have to pay for another one, of course.

The next point is that the market shares of intranets are never disclosed as because robots cannot access them. And this is exactly where most of IT employees will set Matomo on. Actually, what you have to consider is that analytics is really important and represents.strategical information. What is the point of installing a proprietary third party solution on your information system in order to send your strategical data to another company? That is exactly where Matomo Analytics becomes handy, as it is a Free software, you own the solution, you own the data and you are free to host it wherever you want in order to keep your strategical information.

Who Uses Matomo Analytics?

You can investigate the Matomo source code on and you will be surprised to see that there is no tracker within it, so to speak, the Matomo community is not spying on who is installing Matomo (technically speaking, there is a blog rss feed widget, which gives information about the url of the instance but that's it). As a result the only way to know which website is hosting Matomo is to find it within the source code, use a robot database or to have the owner claiming it. From what I have seen o the field, all the big companies out there are using it (not on their public websites though). As an example, you can see on the Matomo's website that Nasa, Huawei, the United Nations, the EU is using it.

People are often looking for references in order to know if the solution is going to be suitable for them but let's make it clear: Matomo is the only Analytics Free Software out there that gives you a 360° view on your data. This is the only analytics solution you can ensure privacy and full control with, and so on and so forth. So as I say all the time if you want to go for an analytics project, at least have a Matomo running, as in the end this is the only one you are going to keep forever. If you want to do very advanced analytics stuff, of course there are better technologies out there, but they are all proprietary, so in any cases you will not capitalize on anything.

The business model of Matomo Analytics

Just like any Free software out there, Matomo needs to be financed. Thus, there is a main maintainer behind the project, which is most of the time a company. Here the company behind Matomo has been created by the founder of the Matomo project. The business model of Matomo is this:

  • Donations: but as in most Free Software projects it is hard to rely on donations only
  • Hosting: here it means that if you are not savvy enough to install Matomo, there exists a service that can install it for you on their own infrastructure and on many other providers
  • Support: so as most of Free Software projects too, they have a team in order to help you if you have troubles with Matomo
  • Paid plugins: and so as most of Free Software they are offering paid plugins. In exchange for a yearly fee you can get extra features to enhance the use of Matomo Analytics

Who is Matomo Analytics for?

Matomo Analytics is very interesting software because it is not designed only for marketers and developers but also for system administrators. This makes it very powerful and of course, a bit more technical than any other analytics vendors out there. The fact that system administrators have to be concerned about Matomo Analytics is only due to the fact that as you own the Matomo's database, you have to take care of it. And this is not something most of analytics persons are aware of, because when they are using a proprietary hosted solution, they don't care about the bandwidth, the size of the database and other technical aspects. With Matomo Analytics every new visit to your website means that your database is growing. In fact taking care of a Matomo project is like taking care of a nice e-commerce website, a lot of things are critical there and need to be maintained.

What does Matomo do?

As previously explained, Matomo Analytics is mainly a quantitative data analysis software, but to some extents you can use it for qualitative data analysis and competition analysis. Let's see all of that in detail.

Matomo Analytics and quantitative data

Matomo Analytics is mainly designed to collect as many data as it can. In fact you can measure to your website. Then, thanks to JavaScript you can measure any interactions happening on the website, such as clicks, scrolls, overlay, etc.

Matomo Analytics and qualitative data

As previously mentioned, Matomo is here in order to collect lots of data about your users or robot connections but those data will not tell you what the experience of the users are. In order to do so, you will need to ask them questions straight away through surveys. Matomo does not allow to edit surveys directly, but you can create a survey on your website and ask Matomo to collect the data of the survey such as the question that was asked, the answer that was given and then use the data visualization power of Matomo to make the data speak for you. In general most marketers will really use survey software to do this action. By chance Matomo can also be integrated to those surveys in order to send data to your Matomo server.

Note also that the team behind Matomo developed as well some interesting paid plugins to get qualitative data, such as the session recording which allow you to follow graphically the path of a given internet user and also a testing plugin to identify which version of your website the internet users prefer.

Matomo Analytics and competitors data
Matomo is not designed to do competitors analysis, but as a Free Software you can tailor it to do whatever you want. For instance, you could develop any plugin you want in order to extract data from a database and import it afterward within Matomo Analytics.

To have a clearer idea of what it would look like you can go to, add three times the SEO plugin and add three of your competitors within it, it will then show you a dashboard in three columns with your 3 competitors within it.

Last modified: Friday, 27 September 2019, 9:48 PM