For Finance Marketers, Google Analytics 4 Presents Big Opportunities

Google Analytics recently announced the rollout of Google Analytics 4, the future version of its analytics platform. The new GA4 integrates innovative features to the core of the reporting suite that marketers in the finance sector will find particularly compelling. In particular, new capabilities — such as more extensive cross-device tracking, machine learning, and a revamped reporting interface —  all represent opportunities that savvy finance marketers would be wise to leverage. 

Enhanced identity resolution

The current version of Google Analytics forces users to choose between two distinct views of their data. Analysts can use the “user ID” reporting view to analyze logged-in user data, or the standard reporting view which leverages device / cookie level view to identify a user. Both of these views present challenges for digital marketers. The “user ID” view presents data only from the subset of users who are in a logged-in state, while the device/cookie level view treats every new instance of a cookie from a device or browser as a new user, which results in significant overcounting. Users who delete their cookies regularly are also likely to be double-counted and can overstate the volume of “new” users.

For industries that tend to have a longer sales cycle — including insurance, investing, lending, and banking — this problem is exacerbated. Users are more likely to perform research from more than one device or to have cleared their cookies at some point during their journey, making it difficult to accurately attribute conversions to initial campaigns. Google Analytics 4 offers a potential solution by blending user identifiers and using the best-known identifier — whether that’s a customer ID or a cross-device user identified by a Google account, or if neither option is available, then by the device. The resulting reports present a more accurate view of true website users.

Privacy-first design

A broad shift toward greater individual privacy has created headaches for digital marketers, who now face a higher level of regulatory scrutiny.  However, compliance issues are likely familiar to finance professionals. In an industry accustomed to constant monitoring by the Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other regulatory bodies, maintaining compliance standards is paramount. Consumers are more focused on digital privacy than ever, leading regulators and business leaders to craft new policies. Legislation like the European Unions’ General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and moves by browsers to limit the lifespan of third-party cookies have all curtailed marketers’ ability to collect and store consumer data while granting users more control over where and how their data is used. Google Analytics 4 is designed with this new landscape in mind and offers features like machine learning to augment collected data, helping to offset some of the data losses resulting from users opting out and the deprecation of third-party cookies. 

Cross-device attribution

Enhanced identity resolution will dramatically improve user reporting and provide more accurate attribution for any marketer in a sector with a long sales cycle.  If a user with a Google account (who has not opted out of ‘ads personalization’) clicks on an email from a mobile device, then returns to browsing, only to submit a lead form later from a desktop, the marketing team will be able to connect that lead back to the original email. Ultimately, it will improve marketers ability to attribute impact and to assign resources more efficiently

Simplified data model and BigQuery export

The financial industry has been ahead of the curve in its investment in proprietary data lakes, but integrating analytics data with the existing iteration of Google Analytics can be challenging for non-360 customers limited to API feeds. The updated platform includes a simplified data schema as well as the ability for non-Google Analytics 360 customers to export granular event-level data to BigQuery, making it easier to analyze, query, and transform the type of data that financial marketers capture. 

What’s next? 

Changes to critical tools like Google Analytics can create headaches, but GA4 brings with it a host of new opportunities for financial marketers to strengthen their existing strategies. The key for most will be to look for ways to leverage a new and expanded toolkit to build reporting that accommodates that natural length of the financial sales cycle and to use that reporting to build deeper relationships and greater understanding of the finance consumer. Contact us if we can help.

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