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Category: Digital Analytics

Taking Action with Google Analytics 360 and Salesforce Integration

August 22, 2019

For many of your customers the decision to make a purchase is not the first or last interaction in the customer lifecycle. It is more likely that the full customer journey is made up of a variety of touch-points, across different channels and devices, as your customers shift between online and offline.

As a marketer you want to understand the full customer journey so you can gain insights and ultimately take action on the touch-points which are most effective for your potential customers.

If your digital analytics tool is Google Analytics (GA) 360 and Salesforce is your CRM and/or Marketing Platform, then the native integration developed for these tools gives you the power to analyze the full customer journey, and take actions to increase lead capture and conversions on your site.

Benefits of Integrating Your CRM and Digital Analytics Tool

image representing benefits of integrating crm with google analytics
Prior to the release of the native integration between Salesforce and Google Analytics 360, data from the two tools would likely sit in separate data silos. On the one hand you have all your vital customer and lead touch-point data stored in Salesforce while Google Analytics 360 contains more detailed analytics data relating to user engagement and the marketing campaigns that attracted visitors to your site.

By themselves these separate data sources provide a partial view into the customer journey, but not the full view into the customer lifecycle that marketers crave.

Imagine the look of joy on your marketing team’s faces if they could have access to data that outlines the full customer lifecycle!

Data that shows: salesforce cloud

  • When users first saw your marketing media
  • When they first engaged with your media
  • When they became leads
  • What marketing or sales efforts lead to their first conversions and (hopefully) retention

Salesforce and Google Analytics 360 Integration Use Cases

Having access to data is merely the first step, now imagine the impact the marketers can have if they take this data and act on it. For example:

  • You can use advanced attribution analysis in Google Analytics 360 to truly understand which marketing efforts are effective with users at different stages of their customer journey. With this information you have an increased ability to optimize marketing channel spend accordingly.
  • By using behavioral data from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you can create Google Analytics 360 Audiences to use for retargeting campaigns.
  • If you are looking to attract more qualified leads, you can use your Salesforce lead/sales data to create Audiences in Google Analytics 360 to leverage lookalike audiences in Google Ads or Google Campaign Manager (formerly DoubleClick).

These are a couple of examples of the type of enhanced actions you’ll have available to you once the GA 360 and Salesforce integration is complete. We outline these and others in more detail later in this post.

By integrating Google Analytics 360 and Salesforce, you can seamlessly push the data relating to all these interactions and touchpoints back and forth between the two tools. These new data points will provide visibility into customer lifecycles for your marketing teams, account managers, technical support teams and customer success teams.

The World’s Most Popular CRM & Data Silos

Salesforce is the first solution that comes to mind when you mention CRMs and is a hugely popular tool.

The only thing lacking from the Salesforce platform is digital analytics.

The nature of the product landscape, with CRMs and digital analytics tools being separate, has lead to data often existing in silos when the data would be significantly more valuable and actionable if it were combined.

In the past, anyone who found these data silos frustrating enough, and had the resources available, could export data from Salesforce and Google Analytics and then work to combine the datasets in an external database. While this approach works (and there are cases in which we’ll still help clients do this if they’re not on the paid version of Google Analytics) it is a challenging and time consuming task.

This approach also leads to delays between when an actual interaction or conversion takes place and the time at which the data point is available to you to act on. Your marketing efforts are going to be significantly more effective if you’re able to act on customer journey data as close to real-time as possible.

“Your marketing efforts are going to be significantly more effective if you’re able to act on customer journey data as close to real-time as possible.”

Data silos are a problem when you consider CRM and digital analytics tools.

Your CRM contains your lead data and tracks key customer interactions that lead to them progressing through the sales funnel. However, the data required to give context to this journey such as when and where a user first became aware of your company or product, which media they have interacted with before and after becoming a lead, and how users have interacted with your website lives separately in your digital analytics tool.

Thankfully the Google Analytics 360 and Salesforce partnership has lead to a native integration that combines these two data sources, giving you insight into the full customer journey and the ability to act on these insights.

Top 5 Insights from Integrating Google Analytics 360 with Salesforce

The GA 360 integration with Salesforce opens up a host of analysis and reporting options that would not have been available to you before. Here are some of the insights we find most useful to review once the integration is in place.

icon representing top insight marketing attribution and reportingAdvanced Marketing Attribution Analysis

When lead and opportunity data is available to you within GA 360, you have the semi-magical ability to create audience segments for audiences that are at varying stages of their customer journey as noted in Salesforce. These audiences will vary from business to business depending on how you classify leads.

Let’s say you have classifications of ‘Leads – Open’, ‘Leads – Qualified’ and ‘Lead – Unqualified’ in Salesforce. You can create these segments in Google Analytics 360 and apply them to analytics reports.

Using these segments and attribution reporting provided by Google Analytics 360 you can start to dig into the marketing touch points that reached these audiences beyond the form submissions that entered them into Salesforce. You’ll be able to review whether different marketing media are more effective at bringing in qualified vs. unqualified leads, or whether there are trends around which marketing channels appear to support each other in the acquisition of leads.

Using Google Analytics 360’s Attribution Model report you can analyze how models other than Google’s standard ‘last touch non-direct’ rank your marketing channel effectiveness in capturing the attention of all your different lead audiences.

You can also use data available in the Google Analytics and Salesforce integration to create ‘customer’ audience segments. You can perform analysis similar to that mentioned above but instead you’ll be focusing on which marketing efforts contributed to a lead actually converting to become a customer. Insights in marketing performance relating to this final conversion are of course extremely valuable as optimizations to your marketing here will have a direct impact on business performance.

This type of advanced attribution analysis is key to truly understanding how your full marketing mix is having an impact on the customer journey.

“…advanced attribution analysis is key to truly understanding how your full marketing mix is having an impact on the customer journey.”

As mentioned before, it’s unlikely one interaction with your marketing media leads directly to a conversion. It is much more likely a customer interacts with your business via a number of different touch points over time. Understanding this journey and the effectiveness or your marketing media and messaging at each step of the journey is key in helping you optimize your marketing efforts so you are consistently delivering the right message at the right time to potential customers in the future.

icon representing top insight lead and customer onsite behaviorBetter Understand & Optimize Behavior

Using the different audience segments mentioned above, you are able to analyze the interactions these different audiences have on your website. Using Google Analytics Goals and Ecommerce tracking, you can review how well your site is doing in getting users to take important steps toward converting, and how effective your site is at capturing final conversions.

By doing analysis like this you are likely to find insights into where your site is failing to move different types of users through the customer journey. For example, your analysis may show that the majority of users who submit their information and become leads read at least 3 of your marketing pages outlining the solutions your business provides and also visit your site at least 2 times.

With insights such as these you can focus on providing an onsite experience that drives users to view multiple marketing pages. You can also adjust your marketing to target those users who have engaged with marketing pages once before, remind them about your solution offerings, and try to get them back to your marketing pages for that key followup visit.

icon representing top insight offline conversionTracking of Offline Conversions

Depending on your business, your final conversions may occur offline — your customers interact with your online properties toward the beginning of their journey, but the final purchase happens offline with a Sales Rep.

This final offline conversion would not traditionally be tracked in Google Analytics 360, meaning its analytics reports only contain data relating to the beginning of the customer journey — not ideal for marketers who are looking to market to potential customers throughout the entire customer journey.

With this offline data now available within Google Analytics 360 you are able to gain insight into what touchpoints the customer interacted with before converting. These are likely some of the most important touch points within the customer journey so gaining insight into how well these performed is key for any marketing team.

icon representing top insight custom funnelsMore Complete Custom Funnels

As a Google Analytics 360 customer you have access to Custom Funnels. With the integration of Salesforce data you will be able to build more complete Custom Funnels that contain funnel-steps relating to interactions that would traditionally only be logged in Salesforce, such as first time a Sales Rep called a lead.

These Custom Funnels will more accurately display the full customer journey than any siloed Google Analytics or Salesforce data ever could. When you start to analyze the funnels by applying different audience segments to them you’ll start to get a much better picture of how all your marketing and sales touchpoints impact completion of each step of the customer journey.

When you identify drop off points in your funnel, you can use personalization or remarketing to target those audience segments.

icon representing top insight advance analysis with big queryAdvanced Analysis with BigQuery

You have the benefit of being able to export your Google Analytics data directly to BigQuery for advanced analysis. BigQuery gives you access to hit level data which can provide deeper insights into your customers online activity at the user level. You can build out custom attribution models, calculate customer lifetime value predictions, connect with other data sources or connect to your preferred data visualization tool.

Top 5 Use Cases for Taking Action with the Salesforce & Google Analytics 360 Integration

Insight without action is, well, worthless.

Insights alone don’t do anything to evolve your business. As marketers and analysts we never want to finish up an analysis by simply saying “oh, that’s interesting.” We want to take that insight and act on it in a way that improves an aspect of our business, be it lead capture, conversion, retention or one of the many steps in between.

Below, we’ve taken the top 5 insights the Google Analytics 360 and Salesforce integration can provide and put together our top 5 list of actions you can take post-integration.

GA 360 & Salesforce Integration Use Case #1:

Lookalike Audiences for Google Ads and Google Display & Video 360 Targeting

Prior to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Google Analytics 360 integration you were missing out on a huge opportunity to increase the reach of your lead capture efforts. Sales Cloud contained data relating to your leads and customers but this data was kept completely separate from Google’s suite of digital marketing tools (Google Marketing Platform).

It is only when these data silos are broken down that you can use this customer and lead data in a meaningful way in upcoming marketing efforts.

With lead and customer data from Sales Cloud integrated directly into Google Analytics, you have the ability to create lead and customer Audiences within Google Analytics 360. You can then create lookalike audiences based off of these newly created Audiences for use in Google Ads and Google Display & Video 360 campaigns to try and capture more qualified leads.

GA 360 & Salesforce Integration Use Case #2:

Personalize Experience via Optimize 360

Google Optimize 360 is a powerful experimentation and personalization tool that can deliver customized onsite experiences for your users. When Salesforce data is made available to Google Analytics 360 and associated tools such as Google Optimize 360 you will have the power to target audiences by characteristics that were data points that previously existed in Salesforce alone.

For example, you can target qualified leads, customers, and also users who are on your site but are not yet leads — how many audiences you want to focus on will vary depending on the length and complexity of your conversion funnel.

With Google Optimize 360 you can show each of these audience segments a version of your site that is designed to move them toward the next stage of the customer journey.

For instance, you can show non-lead users a version of the site in which the forms they need to fill out to become leads are given prominence, or copy on landing pages is written specifically for users who you know may not be as familiar with your offerings as qualified leads of customers.

Qualified leads may be shown pages that highlight more detailed benefits of your product offerings that regular users would see; you know this audience has shown an interest in your offerings before so you can take your opportunity when they revisit your site to show them more complex product information you may be wary of showing new users for fear of overwhelming them.

GA 360 & Salesforce Integration Use Case #3:

Marketing Cloud Email, SMS, Push Notification Marketing

The integration allows audience data to be pushed from Google Analytics 360 into the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. In GA 360 you have the ability to build complex audience segments based off of user interactions, demographic data and also (if you also have Google Analytics 360 integrated with Sales Cloud) lead and offline conversion data.

These audiences you build can then be shared with Marketing Cloud for activation via email, SMS or push notifications. This functionality significantly increases the options open to you for direct activation via Marketing Cloud.

The audience segments you create and then act on can be as simple or as complex as fit your needs and allow to really focus your marketing efforts on specific subsets of your future leads, leads and customers.

GA 360 & Salesforce Integration Use Case #4:

Improve Onsite User Experience for Increased Conversions

As discussed previously, the integration allows you the ability to create audience segments for users at each stage of the sales funnel. Using these segments, product managers and user experience teams can analyze Google Analytics 360 reports and funnels to see which parts of the site are performing well at getting users to move toward a purchase and which are not.

The insights gathered here around when and where users are most likely to fall out of the sales funnel will allow UX teams to focus on aspects of the site that are proving most troublesome for users.

GA 360 & Salesforce Integration Use Case #5:

Optimize Search Marketing Performance

Breaking down data silos is again the name of the game here.

With offline conversion data shared between Salesforce and Google Analytics 360, this data can be de-siloed (again!) and shared with Google Ads and Search Ads 360. If you also set up Goals in Google Analytics 360 to track completion of multiple steps in the Salesforce customer journey (i.e. form completion, first sales call, etc.) then this data can be imported into Google Ads and DoubleClick Search as well.

The addition of these new metrics into Ads, Display & Video 360 allow you to analyze and optimize those campaigns for sales and all steps in the customer journey to ensure you’re truly optimizing your campaigns based on data points that tie back exactly to the sales funnel.

When making decisions based off of focused data points such as these, you can be confident the insights you’re drawing from the dataset and the actions you’re taking are the most effective you could achieve, your marketing efforts are being informed by existing funnel and conversion data.

Google Analytics Standard and Salesforce

ga360 integration with salesforce

If you’re currently using Google Analytics Standard, then this integration is one of the many benefits that makes upgrading to Google Analytics 360 well worth it. If you are bummed out because you still have the standard version of Google Analytics, fear not as it is still possible to integrate your Salesforce Sales and Marketing Cloud implementation with Google Analytics.

However, unlike the built-in integration available to GA 360 customers, it will require more manual configuration. This includes setting up custom dimensions in Google Analytics to capture the client ID of the user that visited your site and setting up custom fields in your CRM to push your Google data back to the Marketing Cloud.

If you would like help with how to set up a Salesforce integration for Google Analytics standard. Please reach out to us.

Start Taking Action On Your Data — Integrate Google Analytics 360 and Salesforce Today

Everything we have covered now has you excited to take advantage of the integration developed by Google Analytics 360 and Salesforce, right?! The integration allows you to gain insights into the customer journey and take action on these insights to optimize your site and marketing spend while increasing conversions throughout the sales funnel.

If you’d like assistance in setting up this Salesforce+GA integration or working with the new data and actions the integration provides, please let us know. We’d love to help, and we’re also available for questions and comments below!

Alex Molineux
About the Author

Alex is Associate Manager of Optimization at Blast Analytics. He leverages his expertise in analytics strategy, implementation and optimization to help clients translate data into actionable insights, and is an expert in a wide variety of analytics and testing tools with a focus on Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Tealium IQ & AudienceStream, Optimizely and Google Optimize. Whether you’re looking to build out an analytics strategy to gather insights into your core business questions or you are looking to run an effective A/B testing or personalization campaign, he is able to use his expertise to guide and support you.

Connect with Alex on LinkedIn. Alex Molineux has written on the Blast Digital Customer Experience and Analytics Blog.