I’ve been working on this post for a week or so now, but an email I received this morning lit the proverbial lightbulb over my head. It was some sort of cold-call email, but the subject line read, “What’s your biggest data challenge?” My immediate thought was “that hasn’t changed in 20 years. I’m still looking for audience insights.”
For the past 20+ years, all of our reporting efforts have focused on finding insights within the data. We’ve never had a shortage of data. That’s one of the things we all love about digital media. We have access to all sorts of numbers. What we’ve always had trouble with is getting to the data that is actually helpful, numbers that are more than just interesting but give us a real purview into the success of our marketing efforts, and true insights that could support continued success.
All of the changes coming at us in terms of cookie deprecation, first-party data, and Google Analytics 4 are leading us down a more insightful path. It’s getting easier to understand your audience, what they want to achieve, and how you are helping them do so. The use of third-party cookies allows us to reach a lot of people, but we often spend so much time analyzing what those possible customers are likely to do, we are left with too little time to look more closely at our existing customers and the data around them.
The simple fact that the industry won’t be able to rely on third-party cookies for much longer has moved first-party data to the forefront. If you haven’t been gathering and analyzing this data, now is the time to get started. A CDP allows you to pull data points from across your organization into one place where you can manipulate and analyze it for real insights about your actual audience. You can combine purchase data, customer support, maybe even loyalty patterns with your marketing efforts to uncover how and where you are driving business results. This is time well spent!
The new Google Analytics 4 has created a platform that allows us to blend data from various channels, including website traffic and mobile apps. It also forces businesses to think about their true success events in those channels. The event-based implementation of GA4 means that it is no longer enough to put the code in place and figure out later what data you want to analyze. A solid implementation of GA4 includes determining what actions on the website or within the app designate success. Those indicators have to be established within GA4 in order to create reports. Here again, you are encouraged to focus on the behavior of your existing audience to discover insights.
In my many years of digital marketing experience, I have been able to look at a lot of data from so many different sources. These numbers rarely offer valuable information on their own. It takes the context of clear objectives and a clearly defined desired outcome to really get to valuable conclusions. The upcoming changes in the technology of digital marketing give us the reason and perhaps even the little push we need to look at our existing audience data for those elusive insights.