Understand Content Performance with Data Import in Google Analytics 360

Publishers, Content Marketers, and Audience Development Managers can easily fall into a trap of evaluating content using only the most readily available metrics presented in default analytics reports.  Too often this means analysis is limited to the number of people who have visited particular web pages.

Google Analytics 360 (GA 360) reveals deeper insights and makes the complex task of content analysis easier.  By enabling a wider range of associated metadata and custom joins, GA 360 gets you beyond page visits.

Start seeing how different audiences consume your content.  Combine that with patterns across a range of dimensions like author, topic category, or even custom fields joined from other marketing systems.

Even more powerful, getting the complete picture in GA 360 lets you see traffic sources for different types of content and downstream economic impact.  That holistic, A-to-Z view, which shows how content types attract and convert different audiences lets publishers make smart decisions about where to invest.

Query Time Data Import in Google Analytics 360

Web publishers aren’t in the business of giving content away.  They’re either selling subscriptions, hosting events, acquiring talent, running complete ecommerce shops, or doing it all at once.

GA 360 allows today’s publishers to upload and join data from other marketing sources, greatly enriching content analysis and audience insights.  Data sitting in content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM), ecommerce platforms, and marketing automation tools can easily be joined to detailed web analytics data and analyzed conveniently in a single view.

Flowchart - Use Google Analytics 360 Data Import to Measure Content Performance

Google Analytics 360 uses two types of data import modes:

    1. Processing Time Import Mode This default mode pairs your uploaded data with Google Analytics hit data as hits are processed.  While this allows for faster reporting, this mode has two drawbacks. 1) Hits processed before external data are imported do not get included in reporting.  And importantly, 2) the import cannot be undone.
    2. Query Time Import Mode Available only to GA 360 users, this data import mode pairs analytics hits with uploaded data when the user runs a particular report or queries the data.  Unlike Processing Time Import mode, the two key benefits here allow analysts to 1) see imported data overlaid on historical hits and, if needed, 2) reverse or undo the data import.

Using Imported Data in GA 360

Old fashioned pages can't tell you much about content performance
Relying on pageviews alone to measure content performance is old fashioned!

Using Query Time Import in GA 360 is like going back in time.  Publishers can look at the full history of their online content and understand not just how many views a single page has but also how entire custom categories of content have performed.

Let’s look at ways publishers can use Query Time Import.

1) Get a complete view of content performance

Out-of-the-box, Google Analytics standard edition only captures the URL and page title of viewed content.  The Query Time Import feature in 360 enhances the standard data with richer content traits like author and publish date.  At that moment, Google Analytics knows, for example, this is a finance article, written by a specific author, and published on a certain date.

Data stored in your CMS, though, allows you to assign many other attributes to a piece of content.  Specify, for example, which topic or category the article belongs to, whether it’s a sponsored post or opinion piece, and how much the author was compensated.  Import whatever is meaningful to your business: content scoring information, readability, or SEO metadata—just about anything you want.

Importing key data from your CMS into GA 360 allows you to segment not just by URL but by topic, author, or any other category.  Stop looking at data page-by-page and instead view roll-up reports at a higher level to see what’s working and what might be underperforming.

By passing in more meaningful traits like content type to your URLs, Query Time Import helps you identify types of evergreen content that continue to attract views.  These reliable performers can be repurposed in subscriber emails, for example. And because you can look upstream to see traffic sources, you can discover which topics and authors perform well on social media and target content to build your following.

2) Connect content to revenue

Tracking users from article to transaction connects the dots between content and revenue.  But, armed with CMS data in GA 360, a publisher might look further at an internal or hidden content grouping as a special category.  The reporting lets you combine a series of related articles, rank them by your internal criteria, and review the performance of the series by content investment or certain audience targeting characteristics.

Or, you can apply demographic data not just site-wide but by content category or author.  You might discover that a certain grouping of authors draws a heavily female audience, which might give you desirable inventory to sell to advertisers.

A prominent nonprofit client of ours regularly integrates internal information with web analytics data to drive fundraising and support their research teams.  They identify types of content that resonate with their audience and repurpose in fundraising appeals and as valuable input for their research teams.  Another client, a business publisher, carefully monitors which article traits are most effective at prompting site visitors to subscribe.

Don’t Settle For Simplistic

GA 360 excels at bucketing content in whatever manner you like through Query Time Import of external data.  This simple but powerful Google feature provides publishers with a holistic view of the patterns and traits that matter most to the business.

Start viewing data that tells you what you want to know about your content whether you’re looking upstream, onsite, or downstream—either today or historically.

Don’t settle for simplistic metrics like pageviews.  Get real insights that impact your content strategy and investment.  Start answering the bigger questions. Are the right people reaching the right types of content at the right time?  Where are they coming from?  And, most important, are they navigating to your subscribe page, sponsored content, or ecommerce opportunity and driving your bottom line?

Find out with Query Time Import in GA 360.

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