Optimizing Media Efficiency with Google Analytics

We’re very fortunate in that we get to work with some rockstar clients who really utilize the data they’re getting out of a solution like ChannelMix and Google Analytics. Most of our clients also work with various media agencies, and often times utilize our data analysis services to get a deeper understanding of how efficient their media spend is, and why.You may be asking… Why wouldn’t they just trust what their media agency is telling them? Well… They do. But the problem is that most media agencies are laser-focused on their spend and how that spend is impacting the final conversion metric (and rightly so), so they’re only reporting part of the equation. The reason we’re often engaged is from a broader perspective; segmenting user behavior metrics and connecting that behavior with the media, creative, and messaging that got them to the site. It’s a tall order to expect your media buyer to also be a Google Analytics expert, but a GA expert is what’s necessary to setup and use the advanced functionality within the tool to get to the data that can supercharge a media strategy.There are two, often under-utilized, tools within GA that can put your media plan in a whole different league: custom segments and custom dimensions. I’ll cover each of these tools in more depth in a future article, but for now let’s explore how we can segment your visitor-base to gain a deeper view of how media is impacting your site.Let’s assume we’re looking at an ecommerce site that has a fairly broad traffic acquisition and online media strategy; banner ads, paid & organic search, online pre-roll video, social media advertising, affiliate networks, etc. Generally when looking at media performance it’s limited to the channel, location, and messaging/creative alongside the attributed revenue from those clicks (and of course revenue attribution is a whole separate discussion). This is good, but it’s only telling you part of the story. With solid campaign tracking, and a well-thought out custom dimension strategy, we could add additional segmentation to the current media reporting and find ways to make current buys more efficient, as well as drive site optimizations that can better align with what your user is expecting when hitting the site.Let’s say paid search is a big revenue driver for this site, and consequently is a big investment from a budget perspective. Of course we’re going to look at our last-click revenue reporting, break it down by ad group, and sometimes even go to the keyword level to weed out those that aren’t performing. But what if we segmented our paid search traffic by the lifetime value of the customer? A custom dimension can be setup to track the running total a customer spends on your site. If you had that single dimension, imagine the possibilities. A quick analysis on your top tier customers would result in an understanding of not only what drives immediate revenue (which you should already understand), but more importantly what ad copy, campaign, or keywords are driving customers that keep coming back and spending. Those customer may not come through paid search each time, but if you understand the triggers that capture that group on the front end (as well as the content on the site that got them invested) you can really start to optimize your search strategy around driving a visitor who is likely to be a long-term high spender.Now let’s take this a step further… I want a customer who spends a lot but is also someone who is sharing my brand with their social network (do customers get any better than this?). I want to know what media channels and messaging is bringing this user in the door, and what content on the site is getting them hooked… Then I want to exploit that channel and content as much as possible. This again, with a well thought out and executed Google Analytics implementation, is a reality.Oh… And of course there will always be under-performers. This is where a full view of the data is super valuable. I can dig into the lagging groups and understand if they hit products that were out of stock, visited from an area of the country where we have long shipping times, or abandoned their cart when they saw the shipping costs. Once I have my head wrapped around this… I can start testing different scenarios to get them moving the way I planned. It’s not always the media that’s the problem… Sometimes it’s your site itself.So, there’s a ton of value to having a GA expert at the table when determining the efficiency of your media spend. Forming a solid partnership with an analytics agency like Alight pays off exponentially in both confidence and impact of the decisions you need to be making.

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