Know-how is the biggest barrier to using marketing data

Ian Harris

Executive Chairman

Analytics and Data Science

2016 has truly been the year of big data. Everyone has been talking about it, however not everyone is maximizing the use of their data. As we head into 2017, we wanted to find out how brand-side digital marketers are using their data right now, and what their biggest challenges are. We surveyed brand-side digital marketers from a recent event, and here’s what they had to say…

3/4 of brands are already using data to guide budgets

We found it encouraging to hear that the majority of the brands we spoke to said they were already using analytics data to guide their search marketing budgets. The data you receive from Google Analytics is invaluable. It gives you direct insight into the behavior of your digital customers and enables you to quickly make the most of opportunities, such as seasonal trends.

While setting up your web analytics properly can be time consuming, it’s worth it in the long run. Here are some advanced features to consider:

  • UserID Tracking: Perhaps the most important development with Google Analytics (GA). By attributing an individual ID to a user, you can track them over various channels and across various devices so you’re getting the full picture.
  • Content Grouping: If you’re working with a huge website, then grouping your content in GA can make your data easier to understand. On top of this, it can also point out any behavioral patterns from your users that you may be able to target.
  • Events Tracking: Basic GA features allow you track metrics such as pageviews, but you can also track more specific and insightful actions (known as events) using some additions to your JavaScript. From video views to PDF downloads, the possibilities are endless.

To learn more about these topics and others, check out our article: 10 Advanced Google Analytics Features for Power Users.

25% are still only planning attribution models

Building a successful attribution model isn’t easy, so we weren’t massively surprised that so many of the people we spoke with were still in the process of planning their own attribution models. With so little in-house time and resources available for some brands, many turn to specialist agencies like ourselves to tackle the challenges that modelling raises. Two of the biggest challenges you might face are:

  • Consistency: Consistency is the most important aspect of tracking your user’s journey. If you want valuable data then it needs to be of a consistently high quality in order to garner any valuable conclusions. That means a strong team and solid processes.
  • Detail: ‘Last click’ is one of the most commonly used attribution models and one that many of the brands we spoke to still use. However, it is also one of the most inaccurate. Building your own tailored attribution model, specific to your industry and customer base, is the only way you can get truly useful data to inform your campaigns.

1/3 aren’t using audience data

While the majority of marketers do seem to be utilizing audience data already, they may not be making full use of its capabilities. Marketing to specific and well-defined audiences with appropriate messaging is becoming more and more important as the digital marketing landscape matures. Google Analytics allows you to define segments that meet certain conditions relating to dimensions and metrics – these segments can then be linked to AdWords (or DoubleClick in GA 360) as remarketing audience lists to be used in display or RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) campaigns.

We can perform detailed audience segmentation of customers in the CRM database to define such things as ‘brand advocates’, or customers with a certain interest that fits with your products. We can then push this information back into Google Analytics in a hit along with the ClientID, enabling us to use a custom dimension to provide this audience definition.

We can then create the audience from the custom dimension and push it to AdWords. This will allow us remarket to these specific audiences with more appropriate messaging at the right time (as long as the audience meets the minimum size threshold).

Advanced Audience Marketing

Knowledge is 1/3 of marketers’ biggest challenge

Just as SEO was once the great unknown for many digital marketers, it is data and how to use it that now challenges them most. A third of the marketers we spoke to said ‘knowledge’ was the biggest thing that prevented them from using data more effectively. One common theme was the lack of knowledge around linking multiple channels and data sources throughout the conversion funnel together. To successfully track a user from offline to online, you need to label them with an ID. There are two types of ID that can be used.:

  • ClientID: Generated by Google tracking script and sitting in a user’s browser, you capture this ID from a user so you can store their information in your CRM software along with all offline information you have.
  • UserID: This ID is different in that it is generated from your CRM and is pushed out when users visit your site or do offline actions. While this may be a more complex addition to your data collection, it helps you link online and offline more cohesively.

Find out more about linking online and offline in our article Linking Offline Conversions to Online Clicks: How to push data from your CRM into Google.

We work with all our clients to ensure they’re using solid, insightful data to inform their digital marketing strategies and using their search marketing budgets to their full potential.  If you would like any advice, please contact us.