For businesses that are curious about or considering a move from the free version of Google Analytics to GA360, this post will provide insight and answers around the additional benefits and whether the move is worth the investment.
I would categorise the benefits of GA360 into three categories:
Backend Improvements: more customisation and more data tracked
Analysis Improvements: more granular data access and unsampled reporting
Support & Agreements: an actual contract with Google, SLA and tech support
Under each category, there are several distinct benefits to GA360. Some can change the approach you and your organisation take to using web analytics data. Let's go through the most interesting ones:
1. Up to one billion hits tracked: if you are considering GA360, it’s likely that your GA account is collecting close to or above the hit limit of 10 million hits per month that the free version permits you.
If you collect more, Google won’t guarantee that these will be processed, which can lead to lower data quality, and doubt in the data. With GA360, that limit is increased to one billion hits per month. This is certainly a good reason to upgrade.
2. Data Freshness: As many users of free GA know, the data available in the user interface varies and can take up to 24 hours to collect. That’s a long lag if you’ve just setup a new page, site or campaign, and want to check its producing results. With GA360, the maximum lag is reduced to four hours, but from experience, it's often a lot faster, even within the hour.
3. DoubleClick integration: To get the full use of certain Google Analytics features like attribution modelling, it's likely that your organisation needs to connect ad server data, especially ad spend data into GA.
If you are using Google Stack for Adwords or Doubleclick, this can easily be done for you by connecting the tools and letting Google do the rest. However, while AdWords lets you do this in free GA, you have to upgrade to GA360 before you are able to connect up DoubleClick as well. Therefore, if you are intent on using GA’s attribution capabilities, then GA360 is a good investment.
This brings us to...
1. Data-Driven Attribution Modelling: for several years now, free GA has offered rule-based attribution models so you can create a unique attribution model more aligned to your business. This is in place of the old last-click model inherent in GA by default. A rather large limitation is that you have to build it yourself. It also expects you to have a good picture of channel-specific value in your users’ journey on your web properties toward conversion/sales/leads.
However, with GA360, that becomes a lot more interesting as you receive out of the box data-driven modelling. This means that you no longer need to create your own. GA does the modelling automatically based on your actual user data. For a full picture, you will still need to import your ad activityand media spend data (See above if you are using Google Stack).
2. BigQuery Integration: this is the benefit that probably excites me the most - getting access to granular session level data, which is automatically transferred to your company’s own BigQuery instance. The use cases for this are pretty much endless as you can build your own applications to run on all your user data. Here’s a few ways you could interrogate the data via BigQuery:
How many times do customers interact with a site in a visit?
What are the most common paths through the site from the home page?
Are customers returning multiple times from different devices?
What is the effect of a user using multiple devices on conversion rates?
How does altering modules on a landing page affect conversion rates?
What is driving patterns in 404 errors?
3. Enhanced Custom reports: a big grievance for many users of free Google Analytics is the report sampling issue. Basically, if you are analysing deep into your data, Google Analytics will base the data on a smaller sample of all the data and extrapolate it across all your sessions for that date range. Google does that to speed up the query.
Since this sample can change between queries, it means you might receive different results everytime you do the analysis, which is far from ideal. With GA360, that still happens to enhance the speed of the query. However, you now receive an option called “Unsampled report” i.e. when you see the sample rate, you can export the report and it will be run against all your data.
Create Remarketing Audiences from Custom Funnels
With Google Analytics 360, you will have access to generate custom funnel graphs. The power beind this is the ability to generate remarketing audience of users who did or did not complete a certain stage within your funnel. These audience definitions can then be leveraged to your remarketing platforms such as Google AdWords for greater targeting. There are also several new report and beta features that are only available for GA360 users.
Support & Agreements
Finally, there are contractual agreements and SLA that you receive by upgrading your account.
If your organisation does sign up to GA360, either via Google directly or via a reseller, they are obligated to provide tech support should there be any issues with your access, the tool or if you have general questions. With GA Free, your only support is Googling your way to the answer.
Also, GA360 resellers will often provide extra support for implementation and maintenance as an added benefit for bringing you on to the platform.
Want to get ahead of your competitors? If you want to find out more about Google Analytics 360, get in touch.