By Oliver Walker

Few organisations are using Google Analytics to its full potential. Find out how to use GA as a data-management platform and build more targeted audiences to target on Search & Display.

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What with the recent buzz around the launch of the Google Analytics 360 Suite, everyone's expectations of what they should be doing from a marketing perspective has shot through the roof. If you're not at least considering how you achieve one to one marketing and on-site personalisation omni-channel, at scale, then you might as well give up right? Of course this is far from the truth for most organisations and the reality is that much can be achieved by utilising Google Analytics 360 (formerly Google Analytics Premium) to far greater effect than you might currently be doing. Specifically, finding a better way to leverage the first-party data you have to deliver more effective marketing campaigns. In fact, even the free version of Google Analytics (GA) offers more advanced capabilities than many consider in this regard.

People based marketing

The fundamental concept we are talking about here is a way of connecting your first-party data to a tool you can use to reach those customers (and ideally find more like them!). Of course, if you have a ton of data in a CRM or database somewhere then it's likely you'll have customer emails, so that represents one method of contact. But increasing these avenues expands the reach and impact of your marketing. One method is to invest time and money into 2016's acronym of the year so far, a DMP (Data Management Platform). But you can dip your toe in the water in a much more cost effective manner by making full use of the capabilities in Google Analytics.

People-based marketing

The 'key' to winning at (re)marketing

Google Analytics has over 200 out of the box dimensions but it also lets you create your own ones, for example Lifetime Value, Persona Type or Subscription Expiry Date. You can add these custom dimensions, built off of data you have in a separate system, via one of a few methods:

  1. Track users logging in and make use of the data import functionality within GA. As soon as a user makes themselves known, e.g. by logging in or providing an email address you have the necessary information to support this. It's as simple as setting a custom dimension when this occurs (storing their customer or other anonymous id) and then linking that ID with any data you have about those users. For instance, a men's fashion retailer might have personas for their customers based on the type of products they buy (e.g. Sportsman, Outdoors Type, Prep, Indie...). This information is stored in a CRM. By sending their customer ID to Google Analytics, they can later upload a CSV which has User ID in one column and Persona Type in another. Now they have Persona Type available as a custom dimension.
  2. Track users logging in and make a live call to your database. As soon as a user makes themselves known, you "look-up" their customer ID in your CRM/database and pull in any associated data you might want. For example on a gambling or gaming website this could be Last Deposit or Total Deposit. Once you have this information, you can pass it into separate custom dimension slots
  3. Track users who identify themselves and send data to GA later. For example with any form submission (account application, appointment booking or even sales), create a customer ID and send this to your CRM, along with their GA client ID. At such point that those users carry out an action further down the line, such as start trading or making a purchase on the phone, you can send data to Google Analytics. This utilises a method called Measurement Protocol. This could include Lifetime Value so this is useful from a tracking as well as an optimisation perspective.

As you can see, there's a massive opportunity to get more of your data into Google Analytics, where you can use in. In Google Analytics 360 you can add up to 200 custom dimensions (plus 200 custom metrics) whilst in the free version you can add up to 20.

Activating your data

Integrate-Segment-Activate-Data

Both GA 360 and standard GA integrate natively with AdWords, meaning GDN and Search-based targeting based on your data are simple. But the greater power comes when you integrate GA 360 with DoubleClick Bid Manager, allowing the same lists to have far greater reach across display, YouTube and even Gmail. So next time that men's clothing retailer gets a new line of products that will appeal to the Indies, they can target them via remarketing, using text, image or even video content. And using this data isn't limited to retargeting either; by sharing these lists with DoubleClick we can run lookalike modelling too, to try and get more users like yours. For example, want to gain more high value customers? Well let's start by marketing to prospects that share many of the same interests, likes and behaviours as your existing customers. Starting to think about how to better leverage your customer data extends what you can do with website optimisation tools like Optimizely, which also let you "link" this first-party data with data it knows about your users.

Walk before you run

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg...but far better to have tackled and conquered your molehill before you take on your mountain. Once you've fully utilised the possibilities with Google Analytics as your "DMP", then it's time to start considering other products. For instance by expanding your granularity (using bought third-party data sources via a full DMP) or your reach (by targeting on other channels too, using say Audience Centre 360). The key is clear; making use of the data you own in to run better and more targeted marketing puts you firmly on the road to success.

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