Google Analytics as a Marketing Data Hub
This article is the first in a series examining the capabilities of Google Analytics for the B2B CMO, and how GA can play an integral part in your organization’s marketing efforts.
In our data-driven world, it’s easy to end up with more of it than we know what to do with.
In many ways we let the tail wag the dog—instead of determining the data types essential to tracking and measuring business goals, we focus on amassing as much of it as possible just because we can.
A principal challenge facing CMOs is how to cut through the data clutter. But even once this difficult task is complete, you’re still left with disparate, siloed data trapped in a variety of tools, from CRMs to advertising platforms.
There’s a need on most marketing teams for unity—a central hub that collates data for the purposes of tracking, measurement, and analysis.
Enter: Google Analytics, the same old analytics platform you’ve heard about for the last decade. It may not be shiny or new, but it works.
In my work with enterprise, B2B, and SaaS clients, I’ve routinely found Google Analytics to be a strategic and impactful bridge between a variety of marketing data types. Here’s why:
It's free, and very powerful, capable, and scalable with the right setup
It’s universal—70% of websites use Google Analytics, creating an engaged and active community and talent pool of professionals versed in the language
It increases productivity with 3rd party data integrations
I’ll expand on each of these benefits in more detail below.
1. The Free Version is Both Powerful & Scalable
It’s hard to argue with a price tag of $0, especially when it doesn’t impact the tool’s capability. The trouble typically associated with a free platform is some sort of usability limitation—either you don’t have access to all the features, or it’s only free for a short period of time.
But this isn’t true with Google Analytics, and its clear path to enterprise scalability makes it a truly powerful tool.
Scale is a crucial consideration before any martech purchase or process decision is made. Before you can rely on a single platform as a marketing data hub, two questions need to be answered:
Will our efforts today be lost as we scale down the road?
Will our historical data be preserved and maintained as we grow?
With Google’s Analytics 360 Suite, the answer to both questions is yes.
With this platform, startups or mid-market companies can invest in setup and customizations today knowing their efforts will scale to enterprise effortlessly—and that crucial inputs like account configurations, historical work, and data are carried over to the 360 Suite.
2. There’s A Universal Language & An Established Talent Pool
There’s a whole network of people who are savvy Google Analytics users that understand the ‘language’ of the platform. And in a growing digital economy, there’s strength in numbers. With 70% of websites using Google Analytics, there’s no denying the community around the platform and the benefit that brings.
Online Community & Certifications
There’s also an incredible wealth of resources available to support Google Analytics and its users. From how-to tutorials and troubleshooting forums across the web, to community meetups, individual and corporate certifications and training, there’s already an established network you can tap for help, training, and talent.
Not convinced? Take a look at the community on Stack Overflow, the millions of members in the official Google Analytics community on Google+, or the dedicated communities for developers and marketers. There’s no shortage of support for Google Analytics users across any type of organization or industry.
At writing, there are currently 5.5 million members online in the Official Google Analytics Solutions Community.
You may be hardpressed to find a single platform so well known and used in the marketing world. Google Analytics proficiency has become a marketable skill in and of itself.
There are implementation experts savvy in setup and configuration, marketers with experience in analysis and BI, and so on, saving you the time and money associated with training staff or contractors who may not be familiar with the capabilities of another system.
3. Google Analytics Integrates With CRM, Advertising Platforms & More
With a sure surge in martech options available, implementation costs are a growing concern for CMOs. Now more than ever, we all must think about whether or not a new platform integrates with our current systems and processes.
If the answer is no, you may be looking at incredible engineering, development, and maintenance costs, plus additional data silos.
The good news is that there are countless tools, applications, and integrations between Google Analytics and other key marketing tools like CRMs and advertising platforms.
By default, a CRM doesn’t ‘talk’ to the internet. The default lead source in Salesforce for the entire internet is ‘web direct,’ for example.
That means one single bucket for internet traffic in its entirety—which is hugely problematic as marketing comes under increasing pressure to measure their contribution to pipeline.
There needs to be a logical way to break that single lead source into meaningful buckets, and Google Analytics is a tool to expand and enrich that information and attribute accordingly.
Advertising & 3rd Party Apps
Google Analytics is also very good at integrating costs, clicks, impressions, and engagement from AdWords to understand what’s driving traffic to your website. The infrastructure is in place for interpreting other ad and app data.
Apps that enable data enrichment are also hugely beneficial to Google Analytics users. An integration with Clearbit, for example, lets you enrich Google Analytics data with de-anonymized information about which companies are visiting your website.
Tools like Funnel automatically upload key advertising metrics to Google Analytics from any advertising platform you use, be it AdWords, Facebook, Outbrain, and more.
Then there’s the rest of the Google Suite, which includes ready access to a host of free, powerful tools like Google Optimize (which is fantastic for A/B testing), Data Studio (connects directly to GA for beautiful, custom visualizations), Google Tag Manager, and more.
A data hub that is free, scales to enterprise, integrates with other key marketing tools, and comes with a built-in community for resources and talent should make the implementation decision relatively easy.
Google Analytics is a time and money-saving way to unite marketing data for measurement and analysis.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Joel Burke, partner and analytics practice lead at Outshine.