Building A Single Source Of Truth For Your Digital Marketing Campaign

Google Analytics as Single Source of Truth - Hackalogy Blog

As a digital marketer, you’ve probably faced the paradox of data once or twice in your career–without even knowing it. Think about it: Have you ever had so much data from your digital marketing campaigns but practically no insight? Or do you already have the right data in your hands but don’t know how to use it? It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the industry for more than ten years or you’ve just started your freelance gig in digital marketing. It’s inevitable, you will still encounter the challenges of dealing with different sets of digital marketing data. If your data is scant, you get little insight. So when you have vast amounts of data, you can extract a ton of insights, right? Wrong. This is what we call the paradox of data in digital marketing. 

What is the paradox of data?

The concept of data paradox was first introduced by Avinash Kaushik, the Godfather of Google Analytics, in his book Web Analytics 2.0. The paradox of data is explained as:

A lack of it means you cannot make complete decisions, but even with a lot of data, you still get an infinitesimally small number of insights.

However, as we’ve learned from our collective experience, the fundamental problem lies not only in getting few insights from the data but in the failure to establish a single source of truth for measuring digital marketing performance. Marketing managers and owners of small and medium businesses rely on website analytics data to determine what to do with their marketing campaigns, resource allocation, and investments, to name a few. Inaccurate insights can lead to the wrong business strategy when business owners and managers make decisions based on data points that don’t reflect reality.

What is the single source of truth?

At the end of each month, we create digital marketing reports for existing clients. We also design marketing dashboards for new clients. As we checked one of our e-commerce accounts, we found inconsistencies in the sales reports from Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and Google Analytics.

Three things came to mind after checking the data:

  • Have we made an error in setting up the tracking for each platform?
  • Does the result differ because Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and Google Analytics are not using the same data attribution?
  • And lastly, how would we report this data to the client?

As we tackled this dilemma, we came across the concept of the “single source of truth.” 

The “single source of truth” is a term used to establish an analytics platform that companies can turn to and trust as “honest” data. It is essential for all analytics and measurement-related projects to have a consensus on which data is used for reporting and decision-making. 

How do we solve this problem? 

Before analysing the data, we started auditing and reviewing the tracking implementation process for the client’s website to eliminate the possibility of tracking errors as the cause of the problem. 

Then we examined the default attribution of Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and Google Analytics. Below is the table of different attributions from different platforms. 

Google, Facebook Ads and Google Analytics Attribution Models Infographic

After learning the different attributions from each platform, we needed to decide which platform we can trust to closely match the actual store revenue data. Even if the sales data is not exactly the same, the percentage error must be within the acceptable range. 

The obvious choice was Google Analytics as the single source of truth. It houses all our client’s data under one roof as a marketing-focused platform and provides advanced insight designed to drive results.

In addition, Google Analytics allows both our analytics and marketing teams to get granular analysis of the data. Both GA3 and GA4 allow data segmentation, e.g. channel segmentation. 

Missing Google Analytics transactions?

As we investigated further, we found two payment gateways that generated revenue and were labelled as referral sites. In Analytics, if a third-party gateway, e.g. Paypal, takes credit for your transaction and revenue, you need to check your Google Analytics referral exclusions setting. 

Google Analytics Referral Exclusion Paypal Screenshot - Hackalogy Blog

Any third-party payment processor should be added to your exclusion list to avoid skewed data. Otherwise, the platform will become an untrustworthy source of truth.

Thankfully, we understood and solved the analytics and measurement issue for our client by establishing Google Analytics as the source of truth. 

If you ever have doubts about your own Google Analytics data, download our Google Analytics (GA3) audit checklist to guide you. We’ve created this 13-step Google Analytics (GA3) audit checklist to help you accurately track your conversion and sales.

This checklist is based on our many years of experience running digital marketing campaigns and auditing the analytics of more than 100 client websites. Download our checklist today and unveil the truth for your Digital Marketing Campaign!