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What marketers need to know for a successful transition

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Google rocked the boat for marketers last month with its latest announcement. Google will be sunsetting Google Analytics 3 (Universal Analytics) for free customers in July 2023 and frr paid customers in October 2023.

What we know

The biggest takeaway for marketers is that Universal Analytics (UA) is not compatible with GA4. This means users who rely on year-over-year metrics will need to act quickly to implement GA4 by July 2022, one year before UA expires. Although UA is set to sunset in July 2023, Google notes users will be able to access their data up to six months after that time.


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What is GA4, and why is Google making this transition?

GA4 is not an upgrade or the latest version of Universal Analytics – it’s an entirely new system of tracking metrics across the web and apps (UA could not provide cross-platform insights, so this is a huge upgrade). Google is transitioning to user- and event-based tracking, which means reports and performance dashboards in UA will no longer be available. This means major metrics that we’ve grown accustomed to, such as bounce rate, page hits, and sessions, will no longer exist. 

So, why the change?

Google is adapting to the privacy-centric world we live in. When UA was conceived in 2013, data privacy laws and browser privacy regulations were nowhere as stringent as they are today. GA4 is specifically designed to function without third-party cookies and instead, leverage machine learning and statistical modeling to collect data. 

This change comes with a host of benefits – from greater insights across touchpoints and data-driven attribution to enhanced engagement data. Users can look forward to new metrics to track engagement, such as engaged sessions, engagement rate, engagement time and more.

Implications for marketing operations professionals

We spoke to Mike Rizzo, founder of MO Pros, the community for marketing operations professionals, about how to prepare for GA4. He explained that the transition from UA to GA4 is complex, even comparable to a Marketo migration. Since GA4 captures data differently from UA, marketing operations teams will need to be able to explain the gravity of this transition to senior leadership so they can allocate time to learn GA4. 

Marketing operations teams are bogged down as it is, so it’s crucial for teams to begin designating time for training and education.

Rizzo continued by explaining that the impact of GA4 will be felt by marketing operations, demand generation, sales and senior leadership, to name a few. UA sunsetting puts tremendous pressure on marketing operations teams to reprioritize workloads and learn how to leverage this new tool. Just like marketing automation doesn’t run itself, neither will GA4. 

How to prepare for a seamless GA4 transition

We’re less than 90 days away from July 2022, which is when companies will need to begin making the shift to GA4 to have YoY data by July 2023. 

Here are three ways you can begin preparing for the transition. 

1. Your tagging structure will need to be updated

GA4 tags capture data in a new way, so users will need to rebuild all existing tags to comply with the new structure in GA4. For events that live within Google Tag Manager, users will need to create an additional tag tied to the same trigger to send data to GA4.

Since GA4 relies on a new dataLayer structure that captures e-commerce data, users have two options:

  1. Reconstruct data laters on your site.
  2. Use Google Tag Manager’s custom JavaScript variables to reformat your data.

2. Reporting will also need to be updated

Data capture in GA4 is based on the Google Firebase platform – meaning it’s optimized for collecting data from mobile devices and applications. Better yet, this also means the fields captured in reporting are more customizable. The not-so-great news is that it’s not aligned with the existing fields captured in UA. This means the reports currently powered by UA connectors or data flows will need to be rebuilt using GA4 data. 

The good news is that Google has provided a list of UA dimensions and metrics equivalent to GA4 dimensions and metrics. This list will help users recreate reporting in GA4, but Google does note that not all GA4 data will match UA data exactly. 

Since users will need to rebuild reports with GA4 data sources, it’s crucial to begin implementing GA4 to ensure you have YoY data by the time July 2023 comes. For those with data ETL and storage processes, you may be able to combine GA4 data with historical UA data to get a longer loopback window, but parity is not promised.

3. Allocate time for learning 

Despite the benefits associated with GA4, there will be a learning curve for users. For starters, the platform has a new interface that lacks many critical functions users have been accustomed to. For example, providing user control over features such as custom channel groupings and filters is unavailable in the GA4 administrative toolset. 

So, what’s the alternative? Users will have to set their filters via variables that leave the IP, domain, and other matching datasets up to the end-user in their tag manager. Setting custom UTM parameters for channel groupings is key for classifying campaigns from outside platforms.

GA4 cannot map custom dimensions, which is key for many users, especially GA360 customers who have 50 or more custom dimensions that they use for advanced reporting. What makes GA360 so great is the expansion of available customizations, so the fact that GA4 has these missing makes implementation that much more challenging. 

It is important to note that Google does have additional custom dimensions on its roadmap, but the fact that it’s missing during the transition announcement creates room for user error.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Digital Content Specialist at Perkuto. Detail-oriented wordsmith with a passion for creating memorable content that tells a story. Over 4 years of experience in the digital marketing space, focused on SEO-driven content, social media strategy, and boosting brand awareness. Loves hot yoga, traveling, and spending time with my partner and two French bulldogs.

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money


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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

At this stage, your goal is to generate repeat buys and real profits. While your entry-point offer was designed for conversions, your ascension offers should be geared for profits—because if you’re serving your customers well, they’ll want to buy again and again.

Ascension offers may be simple upsells made after that initial purchase… bigger, better solutions… or “done for you” add-ons.

So now we must ask ourselves, what is our core flagship offer and how do we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made? What is the thing that we are selling? 

How we continue to deliver value after the first sale is really important, because having upsells and cross sales gives you the ability to sell to customers you already have. It will give you higher Average Customer values, which is going to give you higher margins. Which means you can spend more to acquire new customers. 

Why does this matter? It matters because of this universal law of marketing and customer acquisition, he or she who is able and willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.

Very often the business with the best product messaging very often is the business that can throw the most into customer acquisition. Now there are two ways to do that.

The first way is to just raise a lot of money. The problem is if you have a lot of money, that doesn’t last forever. At some point you need economics. 

The second way, and the most timeless and predictable approach, is to simply have the highest value customers of anyone in your market. If your customers are worth more to you than they are to your competitors, you can spend more to acquire them at the same margin. 

If a customer is worth twice as much to you than it is to your competitor, you can spend twice as much trying to acquire them to make the same margin. You can invest in your customer acquisition, because your customers are investing in your business. You can invest in your customer experiences, and when we invest more into the customer we build brands that have greater value. Meaning, people are more likely to choose you over someone else, which can actually lower acquisition costs. 

Happy customers refer others to us, which is called zero dollar customer acquisition, and generally just ensures you’re making a bigger impact. You can invest more in the customer experience and customer acquisition process if you don’t have high margins. 

If you deliver a preview experience, you can utilize revenue maximizers like up sells, cross sales, and bundles. These are things that would follow up the initial sale or are combined with the initial sale to increase the Average Customer Value.

The best example of an immediate upsell is the classic McDonalds, “would you like fries with that?” You got just a burger, do you also want fries with that? 

What distinguishes an upsell from other types of follow up offers is the upsell promise, the same end result for a bigger and better end result. 

What’s your desired result when you go to McDonalds? It’s not to eat healthy food, and it’s not even to eat a small amount of food. When you go to McDonalds your job is to have a tasty, greasy, predictable inexpensive meal. No one is going there because it’s healthy, you’re going there because you want to eat good. 

It’s predictable. It’s not going to break the bank for a hamburger, neither will adding fries or a Coke. It’s the same experience, but it’s BIGGER and BETTER. 

Amazon does this all of the time with their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought …” But this one is algorithmic. The point of a cross sell is that it is relevant to the consumer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with the original purchase. What you don’t want to do is start someone down one path and confuse them.

You can make this process easy with Bundles and Kits. With a bundle or a kit you’re essentially saying to someone, “you can buy just one piece, or you can get this bundle that does all of these other things for a little bit more. And it’s a higher value.”

The idea behind bundles and kits is that we are adding to the primary offer, not offering them something different. We’re simply promising to get them this desired result in higher definition. 

The Elements of High-Converting Revenue Maximizers (like our bundles and kits) are:

  1. Speed

If you’re an e-Commerce business, selling a physical product, this can look like: offering free shipping for orders $X or more. We’re looking to get your customers the same desired result, but with less work for them.

  1. Automation

If you’re a furniture business, and you want to add a Revenue Maximizer, this can look like: Right now for an extra $X our highly trained employees will come and put this together for you. 

  1. Access 

People will pay for speed, they’ll pay for less work, but they will also pay for a look behind the curtain. Think about the people who pay for Backstage Passes. Your customers will pay for a VIP experience just so they can kind of see how everything works. 

Remember, the ascension stage doesn’t have to stop. Once you have a customer, you should do your best to make them a customer for life. You should continue serving them. Continue asking them, “what needs are we still not meeting” and seek to meet those needs. 

It is your job as a marketer to seek out to discover these needs, to bring these back to the product team, because that’s what’s going to enable you to fully maximize the average customer value. Which is going to enable you to have a whole lot more to spend to acquire those customers and make your job a whole lot easier. 

Now that you understand the importance of the ascend stage, let’s apply it to our examples.

Hazel & Hem could have free priority shipping over $150, a “Boutique Points” reward program with exclusive “double point” days to encourage spending, and an exclusive “Stylist Package” that includes a full outfit custom selected for the customer. 

Cyrus & Clark can retain current clients by offering an annual strategic plan, “Done for You” Marketing services that execute on the strategic plan, and the top tier would allow customers to be the exclusive company that Cyrus & Clark services in specific geographical territories.



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