3 Measurement Resolutions to Embrace in 2013

To start 2013 on the right foot, here are three things I recommend you do today.

2013 is upon us, and with it comes many resolutions that we aim to keep but deep down we know we’ll probably abandon. Speaking to digital marketers last year, I saw a common theme evolving in their digital resolutions for 2013:

  • I will be quicker at implementing measurement and advertising tags.
  • I will evaluate every marketing effort fairly.
  • I won’t analyze visits, I will analyze users.

Easier said than done. How do we stick to these resolutions? Luckily I see three exciting developments in 2013 that will help achieve these resolutions and more.

1. Google Tag Manager to ease the deployment and management of tags.

2. Google Analytics Attribution Modeling for evaluating a marketing channel’s true ROI.

3. Universal Analytics, that promises to move away from browsers to users.

Take control of your marketing and analytics tags

Tagging – it’s the bane of every marketer. Unless you’re lucky enough to have authority over your or your client’s technical team, rolling out new tracking tags is always going to be a painful process that involves negotiation, delays, fixing the inevitable mistakes, tears, and finally, joy. 2013 promises to see a proliferation of tracking tags. Marketers will deploy and tweak many new types of tags, from Facebook conversion pixels, to consolidation of retargeting networks and their tags, to new affiliates. A graceful solution needs to be in place to manage these pains.

Tag management is nothing new, but has tended to be an expensive solution to pursue. Google Tag Manager ensures that tag management is now freely available to all websites small and large thanks to its $0 price tag.

I’ll go deeper into Google Tag Manager in the coming months; but for today I’ll share a story of how it eased the tag deployment cycle. Recently, I helped an e-commerce website deploy Google Analytics through Google Tag Manager. What ordinarily would have been a three to five month deployment cycle took us three weeks! The greatest time saving came from the reduced reliance on the company’s IT team. All they had to do was paste the standard Google Tag Manager snippet into their site template, and add a few JavaScript variables on their checkout pages to surface additional information. The rest of the process involved the e-commerce manager and myself logging into Google Tag Manager’s web console, defining the tags, and configuring which tags fired where and under which conditions. Three weeks! I didn’t know what to do with my spare time after that.

What’s more exciting for the e-commerce manager is that he can now deploy and configure tags at any time without having to worry about IT being a bottleneck.

Get to the true ROI with Attribution Modeling

In October last year Google released the Attribution Modeling tool to all Google Analytics users. Previously it was only available to Premium users. Attribution Modeling takes Multi-Channel Funnels to the next level.

Multi-Channel Funnels was the big Google Analytics story last year. It allows marketers to look beyond last-click attribution and truly appreciate to what extent each marketing channel plays in assisting conversions.

Attribution Modeling takes Multi-Channel Funnels one step further. With it marketers are better able to assign true ROI to their various marketing efforts. You can create different attribution models that assign value to channels depending on where they sat in the conversion funnel. Experiment with different weightings based on position (e.g., first-click wins), time decay, user engagement, generic vs. brand keywords, and more.

Modeling ROI under different scenarios allows you to quickly identify which channels have been under-valued or over-valued in the pursuit of conversions.

Attribution Modeling works out of the box with AdWords cost information. However, it’s not limited to only working with AdWords data. You can use the new Cost Data Import functionality to upload cost information associated with your other marketing channels. You can then apply attribution modeling to these channels as well. More on this in the coming months.

Start thinking in terms of users with Universal Analytics

Universal Analytics is a significant evolutionary leap for Google Analytics. It promises to move analysis from a browser-centric model to a user-centric model. This is an important need in today’s multi-device world. Universal Analytics promises to provide insights on multi-device behavior. Imagine being able to understand how a user researches your product on her phone while she’s on her morning commute, views your product videos on her work laptop at lunch, and then completes the purchase on her iPad at home two nights later.

What particularly excites me about Universal Analytics is the ability to send data to Google Analytics from anywhere. So what? It means you can start collating sales data offline and sending it back to Google Analytics in real time or in batches. If you have a concept of who the user is during the purchase (e.g., she used her loyalty card), you can then tie that back to her previous activity on your website. One thing to note is that the anonymity of visitors will still be maintained.

Universal Analytics is currently in limited beta. While it’s not ready for primetime yet, it’s worth becoming familiar with its capabilities and planning ahead for it with your various stakeholders.

Start 2013 on the right foot

The first month of 2013 is almost over, but it’s never too late to start practicing good measurement habits. In the coming months I’ll elaborate on these “resolution aids.” But in the meantime here are three things I recommend you do today:

  1. Roll out the Google Tag Manager snippet across your site. Even if you don’t have anything to put in it yet, an empty container will not affect your site. Having it already on your site means you can start working with it at any time. Google Tag Manager’s preview mode also allows you to test away without worrying about affecting users on your live site.
  2. Start experimenting with different attribution models. Last-click attribution is so 2012 (some may argue it’s so 2007!). While you may not know what model is suitable for you, the only way you can determine this is through experimentation.
  3. Sign up for the Universal Analytics beta and familiarize yourself with its capabilities.

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