Improve retargeting by adding CRM data to Google Analytics
Syncing CRM and GA data empowers finely segmented and highly personalized retargeting campaigns
Recently here on Novarize’s blog, we dug into the process of creating dynamic content, and delivering said content via highly-personalized retargeting ads.
As we discussed, one of your key options for creating and delivering these ads is Google.
Using your audience’s demographic and behavioral data (as collected through Google Analytics), you can create ad campaigns targeting specific individuals that take specific actions on your website (and elsewhere on the web).
Some of the most common retargeting methods involve targeting individuals who:
- Click on a certain product page
- Abandon their shopping cart
- Purchase a specific item
Each of these individuals will, in turn, be shown a completely different ad, each with a completely different offer and focus.
- The “browsing” customer might be presented with a first-time customer discount on the item they were considering
- The cart abandoner might be given a discount on their entire cart
- The recent customer may see related items that complement their initial purchase
To be sure, this is a great start: The more relevant your retargeting ads are to the individual customer’s experience and expectations, the more likely they are to engage with your campaign.
That said, it’s possible to get even more specific in your targeting by integrating your CRM data into your Google Analytics database.
How integrating CRM data into GA enhances your retargeting efforts
In our data-driven world, it probably comes as no surprise that marrying two robust sets of data will lead to good things for your marketing initiatives moving forward.
But there are two distinct reasons that integrating your CRM data into your Google Analytics database can be so beneficial.
Let’s take a moment to discuss each, shall we?
CRM data adds context to your Google Analytics data
As we said, Google Analytics provides a ton of information revolving around your customers’ online engagement with your brand.
Via Google Analytics, you can dig into data such as your audience’s:
- Age, location, gender, and other demographic information
- Interests (based on their Google profile, online activities, etc.)
- On-site behaviors (e.g., their time on site, engagement path, device used, etc.)
As comprehensive as this data is, it’s merely a snapshot of your customers’ online experiences with your brand. As you surely know, not everything that happens between your brand and your customers happens directly on your website. That is to say, there is a lot about your relationship with your customers that Google doesn’t know.
For example, Google doesn’t know when your customers:
- Return items
- Call your phone support team
- Make purchases in store or at your pop-up locations
More broadly, Google doesn’t know about anything that happens between you and your customers offline.
So, let’s get this all straight:
The reason you’re using Google’s retargeting tools is so you can present highly-relevant ads to your individual customers.
These ads are based on the data Google has collected on said customers.
This data doesn’t tell the whole story about how your customers have engaged with your brand.
So, the question is:
Are your retargeting ads really as laser-focused as they could be?
The truth is, your basic retargeting ads on Google will, on some level, end up being more generalized than you’d hoped. For example, even if you’re targeting “cart abandoners who added X item to their cart,” you’re still making the assumption that all people who abandoned their cart with X item in it are, in general, similar to one another.
Again, this isn’t to say that the above level of targeting isn’t effective—but we can go much deeper by digging into the data held in your CRM.
Typically, this data includes (for each individual customer):
- Demographic and geographic information (as defined by your team—which is likely more in-depth than Google)
- Engagement data—both quantitative metrics and qualitative information
- Information related to the customer journey, lead scoring, and other marketing/sales-related data
- Transactional and functional engagement history (e.g., returns, declined payments, etc.)
In order to contextualize your customer data on Google Analytics, you need to add your CRM’s data into the mix.
Context leads to better retargeting
In adding your CRM data to your Google Analytics dashboard, you’ll be able to take your retargeting efforts much further than you had in the past.
Basically, your CRM data can be used as extra qualifiers when segmenting your audience for retargeting purposes. Instead of using just what Google knows about your audience to define your target audiences, you can now further segment these audiences based on CRM-related data.
For example, rather than targeting all site visitors who browsed a certain product page with the same ad, you can consider the visitor’s position in your sales funnel, as well:
- For Awareness-stage customers, you might promote additional content on the product to nurture the prospect
- For browsing customers, you could provide a 10% discount on initial purchases including the product in question
- For first-time customers, or potential repeat buyers, you can promote smaller-ticket items that add value to their original purchase
See what we did there?
Using data from Google Analytics, we started with a single audience segment: Site visitors who checked out a certain product page. From there, we injected data from our CRM to further segment this audience—allowing us to create retargeting ads that were much more relevant to each individual’s experiences and expectations.
Of course, even this example merely scratches the surface as to what you can do by marrying your Google Analytics and CRM-related data. By combining your on- and offline customer engagement data, you’ll gain full visibility of the customer journey and sales cycle. In turn, this allows you to make more informed marketing and remarketing decisions.
Now, let’s talk about how to actually add your CRM data to your Google Analytics database.
How to add CRM data to GA
First thing’s first:
Before adding and syncing your CRM data to Google Analytics, you need to create custom dimensions in GA to hold your CRM data. You’ll need to add a custom dimension for each attribute you plan on sending to GA, such as LTV, # of purchases, customer score, etc. When doing so, make sure the scope is set to “User” and the “Active” box is checked:
From there, you’ll need to create common identification numbers that will allow you to match customer data from your CRM to Google Analytics. Here, you’re assigning a value to each of your customers so that both Google and your CRM can identify them within the other’s database.
You can do this by pushing your users’ CID from Google Analytics into your CRM, or vice-versa. While individual CRM tools vary, most typically allow for CIDs to easily be injected into customer profiles using custom fields. If you’re pushing your CRM IDs into your GA profiles, you’ll need to implement the User ID override function of Google Analytics.
It’s essential that you remove any identifying information regarding your customers from their CRM ID. This, straight from Google:
“First, per Google Analytics terms of service, you may not use an identifier that contains personally identifiable information (PII). This rules out email addresses, user logins, social security numbers, phone numbers or any piece of data that is deemed to be ‘PII’.
You can use non-obfuscated alphanumeric database identifiers that you might create for your visitors. Another acceptable option is to pass to Google Analytics an encrypted identifier that is based on PII that is not Protected Health Information (as defined under HIPAA), as long as you use the proper encryption level. Google has a minimum hashing requirement of SHA256 and strongly recommends the use of a salt, minimum 8 characters.”
Once you’ve created common IDs for each of your customers and updated their profiles as needed, you’ll be ready to send your CRM data to Google Analytics.
Again, you have two options:
The best course of action is to implement Google’s Measurement Protocol. This involves setting up API calls to initiate HTTP requests from your servers to Google’s:
The upside to this more technical method is that it automatically syncs and segments all individuals existing in both your Analytics and CRM’s databases. This means that, once your data is synced between both platforms, it will remain consistent on both whenever info is added or changed on either. Moreover, using the Measurement Protocol allows Google Analytics to immediately begin segmenting your customers based on a variety of information.
Your other option is to use Google’s Data Import function.
Here, you’re simply uploading your CRM data in CSV format to your Google Analytics account.
To upload this data via Data Import:
- Create and download your CRM’s data in CSV format
- From your Google Analytics dashboard, go to Admin, then Property, then Data Import
- Select a Data Set to add the data to, or create a new Data Set specifically for this info
This option is the more user-friendly of the two, as it allows you to upload your CSV file without getting too technical (i.e., having to set up API integrations and more).
However, you’ll need to continue uploading your updated CRM files to Analytics on a regular basis to ensure uniformity between both databases. This also means that your CRM data will quickly become stale in-between uploads.
(There’s also an issue in which Analytics fails to recognize existing members of your audience within your CRM until they’ve engaged with your site after their CRM data has been synced. If you’re able to regularly update your CRM data within Analytics, this likely won’t be too much of a problem.)
Basically, going the manual route means having to manually maintain your CRM/GA data over time, as well. While setting up the Measurement Protocol may be the more technical and intensive option at first, it will ensure your data remains synced and up-to-date at all times.
Once you’ve set the proper framework in place to ensure uniformity between your Google Analytics and CRM databases, you’ll be ready to start creating ultra-focused retargeting ads based on everything there is to know about your customers.
With real-time customer data at your fingertips, you’ll be able to react to your customers’ actions and needs almost as they arise. In turn, you’ll always stay at least one step ahead of your competition.