• Blog
  • Sep 06, 2017
  • By Jeff Keenan
Can You Use Google Analytics For Attribution?

A lot of marketers want to know if they can use Google Analytics to attribute customer acquisition events back to marketing programs. Are you one of these marketers? Read on to get your answer.

For many companies, free tools like Google Analytics are the first and easy step in monitoring visitor behavior on their websites. This is a popular choice as 50% of the top 10,000 websites in the world now use Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is undeniably great at what it does, but we see a large percentage of companies try to use if for something it isn’t suited for: attribution.

The difference between Google Analytics and Attribution

Google Analytics is indispensable to understand your website visitor traffic and flow. But for understanding the connection between buyers and marketing efforts, Google Analytics isn’t the best choice.

Google Analytics is made for tracking website visitors, but it is not a solution for gathering buyer information. If you want to attribute ad spend to revenue, you’ll need to start using attribution modelling. Here’s why…

Tracking buyers is hard work with Google Analytics

If you want to know how visitors behave on your website, Google Analytics is your go-to, free tool. It allows you to monitor and analyze web usage, showing bounce rate, KPI’s around keywords, and session data.

The difference between Google Analytics and Attribution becomes clear in that last metric, “web sessions”.

It is a useful metric to gauge how people interact with your site. But to really know whether your marketing efforts work, and to know where revenue comes from, the metric is too ambiguous. The problem is, there are way too many different events that are counted as a “web session”.

According to Google Analytics, a session will end with any of these events:

  • After 30 minutes of inactivity – Time-based expiration
  • At midnight – Time-based expiration
  • A user arrives via one campaign, leaves, and comes back via a different campaign – Campaign change.

So here is what’s going wrong. When a website visitor gets side tracked and comes back 31 minutes later, that’s counted as two sessions. When the clock then strikes twelve at night, that’s three sessions. When he reaches your website a few minutes later through a different ad campaign, that’s another session.

We count four sessions within the hour… by one person! Oops.

When you’re using Google Analytics to “analyze” shoppers, you might eventually get some of the job of attribution done, but it’s hard work, and like putting a square peg in a round hole, there will always be missing corners.

Attributing buyers is easy with an attribution tool

Online retailers need to know more than the number of web sessions to be able to improve their business. They need to know how individual buyers behave across channels and platforms, from the first touchpoint to the very last.

Attribution tools can identify individual users, so you don’t have to rely on ambiguous web sessions anymore. Customer journeys can be unified automatically, and the entire conversion path across the whole marketing mix will become visible.

It connects buyers to marketing activity and attributes revenue to ad spend. You’ll be able to find out if you are spending your ad budget on the right programs to deliver top buyers and repeat purchasers.

An attribution tool like LeadsRx is specifically designed to help marketers make real-time corrections in their ad spend allocation. You’ll find more buyers, get bigger deals, and will be able to optimize the customer journey.

Use the right tool for the job

Should you kick Google Analytics out? No. But be sure to use attribution alongside Google Analytics to get the actionable insights you always wanted but couldn’t get your hands on… until now.

If you start today, you’ll be ahead of competitors who are still clinging on to just Google Analytics, unaware of the dirty little secret we just shared with you.