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Get a 360 view of your customers with GA4, BigQuery and Google Tag Manager Server-Side
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Get a 360 view of your customers with GA4, BigQuery and Google Tag Manager Server-Side

  • TECHNICAL LEVEL

As marketers, we dream about designing our customers’ user journey. Through what channel will they discover our brand? How do our online and brick-and-mortar stores complement each other in their overall experience? What maximizes the loyalty of customers to our business? So many questions that are hard to answer right now… But there are also so many answers just waiting to be provided through a combination of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), BigQuery and Google Tag Manager server-side (GTM SS).

In this increasingly competitive world, this technological trio is a game-changer that’s about to make the 360 view a lot more accessible, which is what we’ll be exploring in this article.

A business opportunity first and foremost

Did you know that with GA4 it’s now possible to connect to BigQuery and Google Ad Manager without having to subscribe to the paid version of Google Analytics?

After devoting years to simplifying your online data gathering, Google is now encouraging users to exploit data to the max. More than just simple tools for processing data, the new integrations offered allow you to connect not just your app/web (GA4) data, but also your media data and primary data (sales transactions, customer data, product reviews, customer monetary value) to BigQuery.

We’ve certainly arrived in the era of the democratization of data unification. That’s a big deal! But to what extent does this represent a business opportunity? The answer is simple: From now on it will be possible to get a 360 view of a customer at lower cost. You can now experiment with the tools the industry giants have already been using for several years, thereby driving your business to new heights.

With regard to GTM SS, it supports your data collection and mitigates the effects of the cookie apocalypse. In fact, it supports the very viability of these new technological possibilities, since democratizing advanced analytics would be pointless without a solid foundation. And that foundation is GTM SS.

Thanks to GA4, BigQuery and GTM SS, you can now upgrade your analytics in order to understand your customers through a true 360 profile.

What is a 360 customer profile?

A 360 customer profile is a kind of marketing asset. In concrete terms, it consists of the ability to connect together all the information about a single customer, from their period as a prospect through to the end of their business relationship with you. In other words, we’re talking about the ability to unify these data to tell the entire story of a customer using accurate event measurement.

Why is gaining this understanding so important?

Because it allows you to better understand your customers, master your points of contact with them and make smarter decisions about what your next move will be.

Let’s take a moment to discuss a few of the key elements of the 360 perspective.

Understanding customers

Behind every customer identifier is a person. This person has an age, a gender, a geographic location, interests, aspirations and a particular life context (social, economic, etc.) that defines a good portion of their needs. These needs obviously influence the nature of the products and services they look for, their purchasing frequency and the propensity of the person to remain loyal to your brand.

Understanding your customers is therefore about trying to grasp their personality and characteristics as well as the way they live and perceive their relationship with you. At this stage of the process, it’s crucial to collect the right data, otherwise your idea of your clientele will remain superficial.

Mastering your points of contact

During their journey, your customer provides a range of information about themselves and their needs. The pages they view on your site, their interests, the products they buy that show their true needs, their conversations with your customer service that reveal their concerns, and so forth.

Like in a kind of paper chase, your job is to gather all of this information through a connected, integrated data ecosystem. In other words, it’s your responsibility to unify your data.

Deciding what’s next

If you understand your customers and points of contact, you’ll better understand what triggers desired behaviours such as purchasing. You can then understand the nature of the message you need to communicate, and even the communication channel you should privilege in order to reach them.

From that moment on, you’ve moved beyond simply describing them. Using your deep understanding of your customers to predict their behaviour and personalizing your approach as a result, you are now able to proceed towards processing and exploiting the data you’ve collected.

As you’ll see, getting a 360 view of your customers depends on three pillars: collectionunification and exploitation. This is convenient, since these are precisely the technological advantages offered by GA4, BigQuery and GTM SS. As the saying goes, nature knows best (or in this case, Google). 😉

How GA4, BigQuery and GTM SS help you get a 360 view of your customers

GA4 and GTM SS for data collection

The combination of GA4 and GTM SS enables you to collect analytic and behavioural data from your customers on the web. They’ll help you understand what’s happening on your website or your mobile app as well as measure the performance of your marketing initiatives. GTM SS ensures reliable data collection by basing it on installations that depend on your assets (the servers you pay for). As far as GA4 goes, it enables you to centralize your digital data while guiding you through monitoring your data on a daily basis.

BigQuery: Linking behaviour with other customer information

Relying on behavioural data is a good start, but it’s not enough.

BigQuery provides the capacity to connect these data to other types of information you have internally (sociodemographic features, consumption habits, propensity and loyalty, etc.). It therefore helps you connect together the various data you have collected through warehousing and unification of the various data sources. In the end, this will enable you to segment your customers and link together all the events in your customer’s story.

From BigQuery to GA4 to activate key learnings

Thanks to BigQuery, you will gain precious insight about your customers, which will enable you to better target your new prospects, strengthen your marketing initiatives and lead your existing customers towards a higher degree of loyalty.

However, to move from idea to reality, you need to activate your insights. This is where GA4 can once again support you by enabling the creation of audiences to exploit on your media platforms or even by personalizing your web experience based on the targeted type of clientele.

As you’ll see, the advantage of GA4, GTM SS and BigQuery is their ability to enlist your activities as part of a virtuous circle whose goal is continuous optimization.

What are the steps for a successful installation?

Do all these advantages sound appealing? Rest assured, it’s all within the realm of possibility! But we can’t lie: Setting up the necessary architecture is a major project.

In general terms, here are the stages of the process:

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It’s no surprise that the first step is activating GA4 with the help of GTM SS. In a previous article, we covered the process of migrating to GA4, which occurs in three phases: installation, transition and deployment.

Once the GA4-GTM SS foundation has been activated, you can integrate BigQuery into your thinking. Firstly, BigQuery will help you connect your data sources within the same environment. You can then determine which common features (customer ID, visitor ID, campaign ID, etc.) you will use to establish communication between your various tables. Other than the technical aspect, this second stage requires that you have an overall strategic vision for your data architecture. Your goal is to build a robust connection, which requires a well-articulated strategy.

Finally, once your unification has been achieved, you can start using your data through analysis and visualization. Whether through statistical analysis, segmentation or predictive analysis, BigQuery will help you obtain real insight on your customers’ 360 journey.

However, not all stakeholders within a company have the technical knowledge to perform such analyses. It’s therefore essential to understand how to adequately present data so that the right decisions can be made. That’s why the dashboarding aspect should also be one of your medium- or long-term projects.

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t made in a day. You should therefore transpose your desire for a 360 view of your clientele into an actual business project. This will help you more intelligently coordinate each step needed for the project’s realization. And don’t forget that this is something we can help you with!

As marketers, we dream about designing our customers’ user journey.

But what if we stopped dreaming and actually did just that? With GA4, BigQuery and GTM SS, your understanding of your clientele could be extended, making your dream a reality. Thanks to new free integrations and greater technological robustness, data unification has never been such a realistic and, especially, realizable goal.

In 2022, gaining a 360 view of your customers will stop being a utopian fantasy and become an actual, possible strategy!