With global site analytic platforms such as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics available for marketers, it can be tempting to solely use these tools to drive decision-making. After all, if one source shares all of the necessary information, doesn’t that mean all of that information is accurate?
Not quite so. We believe combining data from different platforms is the best approach to get real answers, marketing insights, and full-funnel analytics. By doing this, you can make sure that your marketing strategies and campaigns are more optimized for success.
When global site analytic platforms initially emerged, the signals were a lot more rudimentary than they are today. As more channels, networks, and attribution models started to emerge, this has truly made it more difficult for a single platform to capture and display all potential signals in an accurate manner. Choosing to use one global site analytic platform can be detrimental when gauging overall digital marketing performance, as no single platform at this point can give you a good picture of everything.
For example, if we were to compare metrics for one of our clients in both Google Analytics and Facebook Ads Manager, we would not see a 1-to-1 similarity in data between the two platforms. While Google presents conversions, Facebook isn’t as cut and dry, sharing information such as leads, purchases, and form submissions instead (all are counted as a conversion but use a different label). When a marketer goes to Google AdWords, they can have a high level of certainty that their conversions were accurate, as Google is good at having data analytics and data-driven attribution displayed with certainty that a particular ad or group of ads led to a conversion. Facebook, meanwhile, has a system that is inherently inaccurate. Since people are led off of Facebook and Instagram to make a purchase after clicking an ad that they see, Facebook Pixel cannot give marketers as a high a degree of certainty on if a conversion was made, but rather an estimate. Google Analytics also has a lot of limits as well, such as maxing out at 10 million total hits and distorting sampling data.
We believe combining data from different platforms is the best approach to get real answers, marketing insights, and full-funnel analytics.
Another example of platform inaccuracies is if we are only using Shopify to dictate our business practices. We are only seeing what happened on a small portion of the customer’s entire journey rather than understand the steps that were made to make a purchase, as the platform has a hard time importing data from Facebook and Google. The platform can only accurately talk about data that crosses their own website.
No global platform at the moment can truly show all necessary information in an accurate manner. Analytics platforms are only as good as the tracking and scope they can provide and can have issues even if they cast a wide net.
If global site analytic platforms can be inaccurate, what is the answer for growth marketers to get the best data?
Our belief at Optimal is that looking at the source of each platform is best in order for us as marketers to get the most accurate information and optimize strategies accordingly. The logic of using one or two global platforms alone to make data-based decisions is highly unsound, as it can lead to flawed marketing approaches. While global platforms can help us get closer to the solution, they should only be part of the answer. There are also solutions that scrape data directly from the platform like Google Data Studio so that platforms with different metrics and values can still be compared in a central location without having to translate or convert any data.
Our biggest suggestion to marketers or those working with a digital marketing agency is to not let a single platform dictate your marketing strategy and your ad account’s performance. What is showing up in your global platform might just give you a fraction of the information. Looking at the sources (such as Facebook Ad Manager for example), analyzing long durations of time, and combining this information can help show what is being accounted for with sales in a proper manner rather than give a partial overview.