With Google’s updated web analytics platform GA4 offering rich data insights for marketers, the majority of sales for most businesses still happen in the offline world and these data channels shouldn’t be ignored, writes Michael Center (pictured), CEO of digital marketing specialist, Delacon and Igor Protsenko, partner at data consultancy, SingleView.
Google’s introduction of GA4 is perhaps the biggest change in web analytics in the last decade, and digital marketers are rightly excited about the opportunities it offers with its event-based tracking.
Universal Analytics was centred around page views and how people moved from page to page. That’s how digital marketing operated 10 years ago. Now, with a proliferation of single-page websites that are highly interactive, page views and moving between pages have largely become irrelevant from a marketing standpoint. Websites and digital marketing have evolved, and now the tool that tracks that engagement has evolved to match.
Google Analytics 4 lets you customise how you measure data more than you’ve ever been able to in the past. You can create an analytics platform that is collecting exactly the data you want, but it’s still only looking at online behaviour. But, in order to get the full picture, you can’t go on ignoring offline data.
What kind of offline data do you need?
GA4 collects an amazing amount of data, but it’s still only part of the picture. Lots of digital marketers still think about their roles in a siloed way – collecting leads through the website is the ultimate aim, and don’t worry about those other channels.
For many businesses, most sales happen offline. All their marketing is taking place digitally, but all the sales are occurring out in the real world, or on the phone. Unless you can bridge these two worlds, you can’t really understand which marketing campaigns are driving the highest-value sales. Phone calls are incredibly important; 43 per cent of all online-search-related conversions take place over the phone, and a majority of businesses still consider phone calls to be their most valuable source of quality leads.
At first glance, it might look like your online channels are bringing in a lot of leads. However, it may be that another channel is not driving as many leads, but those leads are generally higher-quality, generating higher revenue; that’s where you should be spending your marketing budgets. Without connecting the offline to the online, and without looking at all that data in one place, marketers are hampered in making reliable decisions when it comes to marketing budget optimisation.
Bring together your online and offline data
The customisability of GA4 brings with it an opportunity to actually do things your way. Universal Analytics was very website-centric. GA4 brings web and apps together through a unified platform. By taking this granular online data and merging it with call tracking data, you can start working on a more customer-centric view as a marketer. Combine this with your sales data, all linked to the online and offline customer journey, and you have a powerful tool to get every last cent out of your marketing budget.
In a world focused on digital, marketers sometimes forget the power of offline
While a lot of digital marketers might be aware of the importance of offline channels, they are not doing anything about it; they say it’s too hard. A lot of that behaviour comes from organisations being siloed. Different teams manage the online and offline marketing, sales process, or look after the CRM; off- and online data teams sit separately. In an ideal world each of those sides can benefit from collaborating.
One of the problems of marketing in the offline world is that you don’t know which lead is better. Call tracking data can fix this by capturing the online behaviour of offline leads. If you know how the lead came to you, and what they searched for before picking up the phone, you can prioritise everything in your sales process, targeting those leads that searched for the high-value products, and get a higher lead-to-sales conversion rate.
Online teams benefit too. By linking sales calls to the online marketing that drove them, you’ll get a more accurate cost per acquisition calculation for your paid media. Knowing which keywords drove the highest value sales lets you optimise your marketing using all the data, not just the online conversions.
Each of the siloed sides, technologically and organisationally, could benefit from this shared data, but you have to make sure that you’re not leaving vital data on the table.
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