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Tracking with Google Analytics vs. Marketing Automation

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If you’re familiar with SEM (that’s search engine marketing), then you’ve likely experimented with Google Analytics. It’s a free tool by Google that allows marketers (or anybody with a website) to track incoming traffic.  At Capterra, we recommend it to all of the software marketers we talk to so that they can get a better understanding of their typical website visitor.

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But recently, we’ve also suggested that software vendors go beyond their simple analytics tool by adopting a marketing automation program. Why, you might ask?

While both tools provide valuable information, the two tracking mechanisms combined will give you a more complete picture of your marketing campaign success. Here’s a look at the different types of data you’ll receive with each tool and how you can marry the two to make yourself feel like a web tracking genius:

1.       Macro Tracking with Google Analytics

When I took macroeconomics in college, we talked about things like GDP and national inflation rates. Google Analytics is like macroeconomics for your website.  It shows things such as:

  • Number of visitors to your site
  • Average number of pages per visit
  • Visitor demographics (geography, language, etc.)
  • What technology people use to access your site (mobile devices, internet browsers, etc.)

It’s also an extremely handy tool if you’re advertising on Google because it can tell you which of your keyword campaigns are performing best in terms of overall conversion rates. It looks at incoming sources based on the “utm_source” code built into every keyword campaign, and allows you to measure how many of the incoming visitors from each source clicked through to your landing page and ultimately clicked “Submit.”

I like to call this “macro tracking” because it tells you the percentage of anonymous visitors that converted into web leads. For many marketers, this number will suffice and hold demanding executives at bay when they ask, “How’s our marketing going?” But after several months of reporting that 215 people converted into a lead last month from your PPC campaign, most executives will want to know, “Which people? And how much money did we make from them?” That’s where marketing automation comes in.

2.       Micro Tracking with Marketing Automation

As you probably could’ve guessed, marketing automation is more like microeconomics for your website. You know that whole supply and demand curve thing from Econ 101 that told you how many widgets a company should sell and for how much?  Turns out that information would actually be relevant to your job someday.

Instead of looking at the website as a whole and reporting on overall percentages, marketing automation software analyzes each individual that visits your website. When you implement the software, you put an invisible tracking code on your website that will install a cookie on each new visitor’s browser. The cookie then tracks that visitor’s online behavior, including:

  • Which individual pages they click on your website
  • The information they input into your landing page form before hitting “Submit” (such as their company name, email address, and phone number)
  • Whether they are accessing your site from their company IP address or another location (like a Starbucks or Panera)
  • What search phrases they typed into Google that led them to your page

As you can see, this data combined with the Google Analytics data can tell you a lot more than just Google alone. With marketing automation, you can now put a name to each of those 215 converted web leads.

And what’s more, if your CRM software can track sales contract values (often called “opportunities” if you use Salesforce.com), then you can start to report on revenue generated from each of your campaigns. Many marketing automation systems will integrate with your CRM, allowing you to sync these sales opportunities with each contact in your MA software. Then, once the opportunity is won or the contract is signed, that sale amount will appear in your marketing automation reports showing you how much revenue you generated from each campaign.

So, the next time that executive stops by your desk in marketing asking “How’s it going?” you can reply with confidence, “It’s going great! Last month we spent $426.50 on clicks for the term ‘best applicant tracking software’ in Google, and 26 people converted into a lead. I just checked with Sales and from the four contracts that have already closed this month, we’ve made $14,200 so far, but we’re hoping two more will close before the end of the day. Fingers crossed!”

Ha! That’ll send him along to bother some other department for updates. Then you can email your old Econ professor and thank him for imparting his knowledge on you, even if you didn’t appreciate it at the time.

Looking for Marketing Automation software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Marketing Automation software solutions.

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About the Author

Katie Hollar

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Katie is the Director of Marketing at Capterra - a free resource that helps businesses find the right software. Her work has been published in VentureBeat, MarketingProfs, CustomerThink, and the Demand Gen Report, and she has been featured in CIO, AdAge, and Website Magazine. Katie has a love of all things marketing, but she is particularly fond of social media and marketing automation. She is a UVA grad (Wahoowa!) and in her free time enjoys reading, running, and cooking. Follow her on Twitter @khollar.

Comments

Hey Katie,
Nice article! I haven’t seen a lot written on this topic, but we get questions about this all the time here at Marketo.

In addition to the above, one of the things I like about using marketing automation and Google Analytics is the redundancy. Your web data is some of your most important, and you don’t want to risk losing it because of coding issues or other changes. By using two systems to monitor you’re at less of a risk. Further, Google sometimes makes changes to how it captures data (example from last year: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2011/08/update-to-sessions-in-google-analytics.html). If you didn’t realize there was a change you could think something happened to your website. If you are using a marketing automation tool to track as well as Google Analytics, you would be able to see that things were still on track and that it was something else causing a spike/incline/decline.

Thanks again for the post!
-Maria @Marketo

Hi Maria, You have a good point about the redundancy. We hear from customers all the time that their web tracking tools will often give them conflicting data (one says they had X clicks while another says they had Y). While no technology will be 100% accurate all the time, certainly having multiple tools in place can give you more confidence in your data. Thanks for your comment and glad you enjoyed the post!

Hi Katie,
I found your article very helpful. Right now, I use google analytics, marketing automation software (HubSpot), and a CRM program (salesforce). I have been debating about whether or not using all three is overkill. However, your article sums up the different advantages of each tool very nicely. Thanks for the great information!

Hi Christine, Thanks for your comment and glad that I could help! It seems like you’re definitely on track with your tracking. Three tools might be a bit of a hassle to keep up with day-to-day, but since they all give you such different info, I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

If I engage your services, can I track Capterra leads via Google Tag Manager?

Great article. I’d also like to recommend Google Analytic Counters Tracker
Plugin. This plugin, analyses the visitors hits on your websites and displays it
graphically. It is also simple and easy to use. You can access it from
the link, below:

https://wordpress.org/plugins/analytics-counter/

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