Google Analytics 360: The secret weapon for use cases
14 May 2020
Rather than investing in expensive tools to develop data-driven marketing use cases, brands can use Google Analytics 360 to start small, drive value and scale first, says Fabien Cros, Consulting Director and Charles Lucas, Consulting Manager at Artefact France.
Brands are under constant pressure to adapt and refine their marketing approaches to reach the right consumers with the right messages at the right times. But with the stakes so high and the cost associated, this increasingly means testing use cases first to prove value and benefits. Many believe they need special tools to develop these marketing use cases, but in actual fact, for a fraction of the cost, you can develop almost any data driven marketing use case using your Google Analytics 360 (GA360) account to try them out.
This was the conclusion of a major workshop we ran last month for one of Europe’s top travel companies. We showed them that they could use their GA360 account as a Data Management Platform (DMP), Customer Data Platform (CDP), and even a e-CRM of sorts to develop and confirm all their new 2020 and 2021 use cases for a very limited extra cost, before talking about investing in expensive and dedicated tools.
Identifying use cases with the DTPC(I) approach
The starting point begins with being clear on the kinds of use cases you’d like to run — and understanding how you’re going to confirm or not the need to buy a new tool to support them. The best way of doing this is by following our proprietary DTPC(I) approach:
1. Define the use case: before rushing into any use case, you need to think about the strategy of your use case, its business impact, its tech and data feasibility, and also its governance. Another important aspect of this step is to define how you can test your use case first (now that you are finally agile…).
2. Test the use case: for most cases, you can use your current GA360 ecosystem to try out your use case, or at least part of it. Start with a limited number of channels, for example, or with a limited number of data sets. The objective is to test the feasibility of your use case with a real-world example, before starting a six-month journey, and ending up with the conclusion: it’s not working with the data we have…
3. Prove the value: once your use case test is up and running, make sure it is bringing value to your company, and that your test’s hypotheses are true (one way is to compare your use case test with a control group). For example, if you believe you will increase your sales by personalising your emails, check whether you’ll see a 2% or a 20% sales increase to make sure the incremental value is worth the investment. Very often, companies don’t realise until it’s too late that the value of their use cases is neither worth their time nor the investment required.
4. Collect the value: Too often companies use the wrong KPIs to qualify their use cases and buy new tools. For some, if they see more traffic as a result of their test, they consider it enough to move forward with the use case. For us, you need to see the impact on your top line. If you don’t collect the value of your use case, you should not move forward with it. It probably means you’ve forgotten something, and that you are not looking at the full picture.
5. (Invest in tool(s) to expand if needed): Now, if your use case test was successful, that you proved and collected its value, and that your current GA360 ecosystem is not enough to collect the full value of your use case, then and only then should you start thinking about getting new tools to make your use case even more efficient and effective. Indeed, starting a use case with a tool conversation is a recipe for failure. Instead, the tooling discussion should arrive only when the use case has been qualified and has proved its value in a real-world test.
Using GA360 to build and run use cases
By sticking to the principles of the DTPC(I) approach, you can now begin to take advantage of GA360 to build and run use cases.
Using GA360 as a Data Management Platform (DMP)
It’s easy to use GA360 to build audiences and activate those audiences in the Google ecosystem. By leveraging the browsing and behavioural data from your website on GA360, you can test and prove the value of most use cases by staying in the Google ecosystem.
For example, if you want to target prospects who spend a long time on one of your blog posts or product pages, you can set a specific audience in GA360 and activate this audience in DV360 (Google Display and Video 360), to target them on YouTube with a specific video about this post or product. This is just an example, as you can run thousands of use cases with just your GA360 account, and the Google ecosystem.
In line with the principles of the DTPC(I), once you have used GA360 to prove the value of a DMP, you can consider investing in one that gives you access to more complex use cases outside of the Google ecosystem (for example, with a dedicated DMP you can access Facebook and a lot of DSPs easily). Our advice is to exhaust all the use cases you can build in GA360 first though.
Using GA360 as a Customer Relationship Data Management Platform (CRDMP) — a DMP with your CRM data
If you are already using GA360 as a Data Management Platform, the next step is to move toward CRM-driven use cases. For example, if you want to exclude your top tier loyalty clients or exclude the clients who joined your membership program, you will need to include your CRM information into your DMP.
There are multiple ways to integrate CRM data in GA360. You can use the data import solution (with query time) or CRMint (which is more complex to set up but more user friendly for the audience selection later on) to smoothly integrate them. That way you can start enriching your audiences with CRM data, opening a brand new world of use cases at a very limited cost.
This requires expert knowledge, as you need to have some deep expertise in GA360 to do so. But the cost of employing a consulting company to do that for you is small compared to the cost of a fancy DMP. Going back to the DTPC(I) framework, GA360 can help you prove the value of a use case, before opening discussions for a new tool.
Using GA360 as a Customer Data Platform (CDP) — yes, really…
Now that you have your CRM data in GA360, you might need to import all offline information (past purchases, call centre interaction, brick and mortar customer interaction, Sales Rep reports, etc..). In the same way we integrated the CRM data, we are going to leverage the data import solution to populate even more data in GA360.
Technically speaking, of course, all the data will go into BigQuerry, the data warehousing solution of Google as well as in other components of GCP (Google Cloud platform) depending on the use cases.
By using BigQuerry and GCP, you can now use GA360 as a CDP: a customer data platform, leveraging the brand new tables from BigQuerry. You can imagine compiling your user ID, with their loyalty card number, the last time they went on your website, the favourite hotel they are going to, their favourite products, if they are in an audience used in DV360 currently, etc…
You can run countless use cases from there. Critics will say “but you can only use the Google advertising channels”, and yes, they are right, but again, we are not saying that you should not invest in a CDP in the future, but, to maximise ROI, you should test all your use cases in GA360 first, to prove and collect their value, and then invest in a real CDP to extend the possibilities further..
Using GA360 as a multi-channel Customer Data Platform
The last way to leverage GA360 is as a multi-channel CDP. The idea is to integrate additional activation channels, so you are not just stuck with the Google ecosystem. That way you can explore the benefit of a CDP with those new non-Google channels as well, and start your exploration work and begin to qualify your use cases. For example, for a hospitality client, we have connected their Adobe campaign with their GA360 to run emailing personalisation use cases, using this infrastructure: This has helped our client team prove the power of a CDP on their emailing activities, giving them enough data points and ROI figures to justify to their leadership the investment in a Tealium CDP (Audience stream).
Ultimately, while dedicated DMPs or CDPs can help brands who have already reached a high data driven marketing maturity and excellence, before they get to that point, they would benefit from documenting and testing their new use case in a real life environment first. Google Analytics 360 is the perfect ecosystem to start in — and one that many marketers overlook. Coupled with the DTPC(I) approach, it will save you a lot of money and quickly transform your data-driven marketing the agile way.