Closing the Marketing Insights Gap with Marketo and Google Analytics Integration

  • By Idan Carmeli
  • 20 Jul, 2016

Many B2B marketing organizations are under-utilizing the immense power of the Google Analytics platform, especially when combined with Marketo. This post aggregates a few tips and pointers to get you started on the right path.

The B2B analytics gap

There are several things in life that remain mysterious to us even though they're an integral part of our daily routines. We use micro-ovens all the time, but how the hell do they work?! Same goes for TV remotes. Or,  what operates Teenager Mental Machinery? And what's the mechanism that makes my wife right ALL THE TIME?? 

In B2B marketing, 95% of us probably have, as part of our analytics tech stack, a Google Analytics account. Why not? It's powerful, it's Google, and it's free, a terrific combo. But its inner workings, or rather the way we can make it work for us , remain, for many a marketer, a mystery. An informal survey within our client base resulted in a handful of marketers stating they feel in control of GA and comfortable using it as part of their standard B2B marketing activities.

It's a terrible shame, because we at Converto think GA is da shit! So we've put together a few pointers to help Marketo admins and users get going on the path to true analytics bliss.

1. Start at the Academy

If you know very little about GA, the best place to start is the Analytics Academy , an excellent Google resource. Their videos are easy to follow and provide just the right amount of information you need before you start digging in GA itself.

Start with the Digital Analytics Fundamentals course if you don't feel comfortable yet with digital marketing analytics concepts, or go straight to the Google Analytics Platform Principles course.

2. Clean up your data & views

To derive the correct insights, you must first ensure you're seeing accurate, complete data. The web is full of creative spammers, automated bots and other semi-malicious automated processes that generate junk data in your Google Analytics instance. So your first act will be to learn how to achieve the following goals, as this excellent post  by Digital Marketing & Analytics describes:

  1. Protecting: How to correctly configure your views to protect your data from misconfigurations.
  2. Stopping: How to create filters and block
    • Ghost and Crawler Spam
    • Known Bots
    • Internal traffic
  3. Cleaning: How to remove the spam from your historical data with an advanced segment.
Simply follow the post instructions and your data will become sparkling clean.
Another good, continuously refreshed resource is this post  by Analytics Edge.

3. Exclude Marketo tracking tokens from your data

Marketo tags each link in its emails with tracking token. This little monstrosity, known as mkt_tok, is a frequent unwelcome guest in our GA instance views and the first thing we normally do is get rid of it. Doing so is simple.

Go to   Admin -> View -> View Settings   , find the “Exclude URL Query Parameters (optional)” option, type mkt_tok in the box and hit save. Make sure to do that for each view you use.

4. Set up your Goals

Goals in Google Analytics provide marketers with a vector towards which they can measure and improve on their website performances. In the next step you'll find that the concept works for more than just website form conversions. For now, just make sure to set up your goals.

A goal indicates a milestone action performed by a visitor. Normally, B2B marketers use form fills as goals. So a marketer might have a goal called 'Contact Us' for contact form submissions, 'Asset Download' for ebook landing page form submissions, etc. You can also define other actions as goals, such as watching a video. For more information, see this excellent video below.

5. Enable User ID tracking & tie it to Marketo Lead ID

This one is a real kicker. Once enabled, it makes Google Analytics sort of like a Marketo Activity Log on steroids, at least when it comes to website actions (and other custom events that you can add, which we'll get to this later in this article). 

Anyway, to do so, refer to this fantastic Marketo-GA integration guide by the folks at DemandLab. Start with the section titled 'Activate User ID tracking' and proceed from there.

Another great resource is this cheat sheet by Stephane Hamel . Look for the section titled 'End to End Lead Tracking' and follow the instructions. Also this article by Lunametrics.

An important thing to note is that the solutions described in the above resources require the use of Marketo landing pages or a Marketo embedded form code to work. The gist of it is that once a lead has been tagged with a unified ID (i.e. an ID shared between GA and Marketo,) a whole universe of aggregate analytics opens up to us that is entirely missing from Marketo. 

6. Send CRM/Funnel events to Google Analytics

Yes, you got that right: once your Marketo and GA ID's are aligned, you can start pushing non-website data, for example from your CRM, to GA, so you can leverage the platform's powerful data visualizations, slicing and segmentations, aggregate analytics and all the other good stuff it offers.

Once again we recommend referencing the great guide that DemandLab has put together. Scroll to the section aptly titled 

"Basic Events: An Expanded Concept of Interesting Moments" where the principle of using Marketo's Interesting Moment mechanism to log custom events in GA is wonderfully explained.

Bonus: A/B testing your Marketo landing pages with Google Analytics

If you're a veteran Marketo user, you already know that Marketo's internal landing page A/B testing feature leaves a lot to be desired, especially when it comes to splitting and massaging the test data. While there are awesome tools out there like Optimizely to run tests on websites, they do cost extra and thus require investment. With Google Analytics Experiments, though, you can easily run A/B tests on your Marketo landing pages and benefit from the extra force of the platform beyond mere reporting on the test winner.

To get started we recommend reviewing this clear as morning dew guide over at the always useful Crazy Egg blog.

Need help figuring & configuring your Marketo & GA instances?

While we've really done our best to collect the best sources we know of, we do realize going through the setup isn't too trivial, especially sections 5 and 6, where the true value and power of the integration come to the fore. If you need help with the integration, we're happy to lend a hand. Simply go to our contact page and mention google analytics integration in the form notes.

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