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It’s official – Google is now calling time on its Universal Analytics (UA) tool. Challenges associated with EU privacy now mean that Google is sunsetting its UA in favour of a privacy-first approach and it will be pushing its customers to adopt Google Analytics 4 (GA4). By Ricardas Montvila (pictured) , VP, Global Strategy, Mapp Digital

For many businesses, Google’s UA has been indispensable, particularly as it came at no cost at all to their marketing budgets. For businesses currently using UA, they are left with only two options; migrate to GA4 or adopt a new analytics solution.

What is the true cost of free analytics?

“Free Analytics” sounds very tempting, especially for cost-conscious CMOs – but we all know that nothing ever really comes for free. Whether you’re an enterprise-level, SMB, or small business, every single piece of technology in your MarTech stack delivers a clear value and function, at a cost. And for many businesses, Google Analytics UAis usually the only platform in your marketing technology stack that’s free.

Data and insights are the most valuable currency in your organisation – but how valuable are your analytics if you can’t action them right away? You’ll lose out on ground-breaking customer interactions, valuable CX improvements and, in the end, revenue. Because of this, you’ll need to invest in other technology that can help you create personalised experiences , site improvements, and cross-channel marketing that may not necessarily have access to the same data as your analytics capabilities.. Overall, you’re investing in tech siloes, and not capitalising on your opportunities.

Why you need an alternative to Google Analytics

You put yourself in the driver’s seat

While it’s great to innovate with Google, you may want to make a move that puts you in control. Adopting GA4 means having to learn the ropes again. The longer you wait to set up your GA4, the less historical data you’ll have; the tracking and dashboards you’ve previously created may need to be remade.

A move is inevitable, but there’s more than one option for businesses. Now’s the time for you to re-evaluate the technology you’ve been using for the last 10 years and think about alternative and in most cases more advanced ways of doing analytics.

First-party data and zero party data are gaining ground

Marketing is shifting from third-party to first-party data, but if your primary source of insights is still Google Analytics you’re already behind some of your competitors.

While GA4 aims to move away from cookies, you’re expected to provide rich customer insights as you’re encouraged to leverage first-party and zero-party customer data. It’s good to have access to it, but it only means something when you can visualise and capture insights easily to react quickly. CDPs enable you to plug in your different data sources, gain valuable insights and build unified customer profiles to get to know your customers better.

You will ensure all your insights are based on the same dataset

Most businesses are working with external agencies that focus on customer acquisition and often take their insights into account. But how does your business ensure that your internal insight-led decisions are based on the same set of data as your agency? It’s important to ensure your internal and external stakeholders are aligned on the same analytics by taking control internally.

Looking at the basis of your insights is crucial too. Do these insights come from a team that is incentivised to help you drive long-term consumer relationships or do they primarily focus on driving new customer acquisition? Now is the time to re-evaluate your analytics and the technology used in your organisation, to ensure it reflects the need for reliable 1st party data insights.

It’s important to check whether your agency’s incentive includes providing insights on optimising your existing customer experience. If that’s not the case, how does your team ensure that campaigns take the entire customer journey (from acquisition to nurturing and retention) into consideration?

Brands are now looking for more from their agencies

With Google certifications and Google practices in many agencies, it’s important to know the tide is shifting. Brands need their expertise, rather than certifications, to help shift their focus from analysing anonymous visitor behaviour to truly understanding their customers. Brands are looking for help to unlock their goldmine: their 1st party customer data. This is a huge opportunity for agencies to differentiate themselves, by helping brands to become more insight-led

You will regain control of data ownership

As GDPR and more data regulations come out in the future, more marketers are now prioritising data protection. This is also reflected in their choice of marketing platform. Your analytics platform is critical to your marketing activities and it’s essential to safeguard your data and insights –the most valuable assets in driving an insight-led strategy. Data ownership is essential here. When your data is collected and stored in the E.U. or countries that are approved by GDPR, you ensure compliance for your zero-party and first-party data.

There are huge benefits to active analytics

The CMO Survey found that only 1.9% of marketing leaders reported that their companies have the right talent to leverage marketing analytics. Every business can extract insights systematically, but the ability to operationalise insights or link the behaviour to individual customers is extremely hard. These challenges are mainly down to traditional analytics.

Traditional analytics rely on various data sources being ingested into a single repository, where the data is transformed and aggregated. This allows analysts to produce highly customisable dashboards and reports that answer questions to a very specific business problem. While this sounds good, the challenge with this approach is that there are only a few people in the marketing department who understand these analytics.

By using Active Analytics, you move away from analysing aggregated data and push forward an active analytics dataset. It’s always stored in the raw format which allows linking back to each individual customer that has formed part of the KPI or metric.

Now’s the time to really think about the actual price you’re paying for the long term, especially as 68% of businesses would like advanced analytics/insights built into their CDP platform

In summary: there’s only one thing you need to be Google-ing right now: “Google Analytics Alternative”.

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