Upgrading From Google Analytics: When Should You Do It?

Upgrading From Google Analytics: When Should You Do It?

For many marketers, whether or not to spend a lot of money and energy on marketing analytics tools is a main concern. Forbes shows although Martech budgets are increasing, there’s yet to be clarity about what solutions actually accomplish. 

Knowing intermediate and advanced capabilities in Google Analytics, Tag Manager, or custom Excel reports is enough to feel accomplished. But there’s an entire world of opportunities for those brave enough to venture out of the normal analytics stack.

Let’s first understand where Google Analytics does help in a marketer’s life, and what it’s good for. Next we will see how marketers can level up their ability to access critical insights using Business Intelligence, or the practice of using technologies to support better business-making decisions. But first, let’s start by outlining 3 situations where Google Analytics is useful for a marketer.


  • Web Data/SEO/Paid Search
  • Ecommerce
  • GTM & GA

1. Web Data/SEO/Paid Search

Web Traffic: Google Analytics is the hub for content marketers and web developers to figure out which page or content generated the most traffic. There’s so many metrics you can look at including bounce rate, time on site, exit pages, sessions and more. You’re also able to take a look at who your audience is in terms of demographics. From that you can create a custom segment to record specifically those users. That information is also useful for seeing who your paid ads might target. Pretty cool! 

SEO: Search Engine Optimization is about more than just traffic, it involves ranking, keywords, indexing traffic and more. Google Analytics is great for small to medium businesses who know they need SEO in their lives. This is because unlike other SEO tools, it isn’t at an expensive or freemium price. And organic traffic can be correlated to actual conversions through the assisted conversions tab (along with other types of conversions). This adds actual value to the business and is something the higher ups want to know! 

Paid Search: Google Adwords is mostly used for managing paid search — but combine it with Google Analytics and you can really start to see how many people are staying or leaving on landing pages (with the bounce rate metric). This is great for conducting A/B tests and conversion optimization. Simply go to the Traffic sources section and you can see whether your traffic is paid search, direct or referral. From the paid search source you can see what keywords people are using to find your ads. 

From Practical Ecommerce

Unlock Advanced Level – Upgrade to Business Intelligence: 

True, Google Analytics does give a lot of data about web traffic, SEO, and paid search. But to only see marketing analytics through those lens means missing out on a lot. 

One common tool used in business intelligence is Tableau, along with others like Looker and Power BI. The beauty of Tableau is in its connectors – Google has different APIs you can also use to connect data sources with the help of a developer. What this means is that you’re able to transfer the direct data you want to Tableau without any middleman in between. 

If a developer isn’t available, then there’s also special paid marketing source connectors (that connect Google Analytics, Adwords, Bing, Adobe, Facebook and many more) that can be used within Google Sheets and then loaded into Tableau. 

This means you’re not restricted to Google Analytics anymore and the charts they give. Most importantly, you’re not limited to the hidden formulas that Google uses to calculate its results. By using direct sources, you’re the one in charge of your insights. 

2. ECommerce 

Google Analytics is great for setting up ECommerce tracking. This allows you to measure the number of transactions and revenue that your website generates. Analytics.js is the main library used to transfer information from the “Thank You” page to Google Analytics. The library has two main categories: transaction and item data that both provide quite a lot of details.

As you can see from the image below, there’s 3 main value types: text, integer and currency that are alloted to each item. With 11 total dimensions and metrics about each item, painting a detailed picture of each item in Google Analytics, as well as creating reports is completely doable.

Unlock Advanced Level – Upgrade to Tableau/Business Intelligence: 

Companies like Wayfair have successfully used Business Intelligence to take their retail to the next level. With incorporating a majority of sources in Tableau, they’ve been able to combine heat-mapping along with different stages of the conversion funnel. This is cutting-edge stuff: they are able to get detailed data for the thousands of people that visit their site each day. 

Calculations are also one of the amazing ways you can use Tableau  — which is like combining Google Analytics with Excel. For example, by adding cost data, you could do revenue  – total costs to calculate profit from each item. 

Apart from just the numbers, they can incorporate visual heat maps that add visual aesthetics to the data. Being able to see both in one place for upper management is invaluable and can provide deeper insights than just seeing one or the other. 

An analyst could even add pictures of the item in question that could change as the data changes. The amount of combinations you’re able to build are unlimited and so is the value added to your company, if you can provide exactly the information that executives want to see. 

3. GTM & GA

One of the most advanced ways you can use Google Analytics is by combining it with Google Tag Manager. With tags in place, it’s possible to track activity across domains, enable display advertising features, and set up custom metrics and dimensions. 

Here’s a short video on how you can do this: 

Unlock Advanced Level – Upgrade to Tableau/Business Intelligence: 

Google Tag Manager is not an integration for a Business Intelligence tool, but knowing how to use it smoothly is essential if going back and forth from Google Analytics to your preferred tool is a regular task. 

Especially if a web developer is tracking a lot of pages (like in ECommerce, for example), it can quickly get confusing on what’s what. Having a naming convention for tags and deleting duplicate ones regularly can make or break it when it comes to integrating data smoothly and making sure the right data is carried over. 

The more you know how to track, the more you can measure. One example of using Google Tag Manager is to track freebie downloads and then combine them with the amount of people that have subscribed to a newsletter. Again, the possibilities are endless. 

Google Tag Manager Trigger Configuration – from Absent Data

How does this help you? 

For the average marketer, this information is good to know in theory. Most marketers don’t have time to dive deep into the statistics and analytics to really discover hidden insights. Nor should they be. The primary aim of a marketer is to use analytics as a means to an end  — to make better campaigns and ultimately, profit. Anything else is fodder. 

This is where marketing intelligence agencies like PenPath come in. We have the time and energy to mine your data for you using these tools. We’ll let you know how you can make improvements to your data strategy and create Tableau dashboards to answer any question Google Analytics doesn’t. 

Only you can know for yourself whether you’re ready to take the leap. For some companies, Google Analytics may be enough for their needs. However, if you’re someone who’s getting a lot of customer data and you want to see what’s possible, call us! 

Schedule a free 15 minute marketing consultation now and one of our analysts will be happy to take a look at your data. You’ll walk away with handy knowledge on why and how you can level up from your current tools. 

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Rucha Shukla

Rucha Shukla is an avid analyst who loves using data to answer big questions in business. You can tweet her @ruchashu.