Integrating a Strategic Data Layer into Multi-Channel Funnels

As a company moves into the multi-channel realm, they need a structured approach to expansion which allows for the evolution, merging and integration of the new data and technologies. This will ensure that as the data layer evolves, the multi-channel funnels move right along with it. This strategic, structured plan will also need some sort of data governance to periodically ensure that the data layer is delivering accurate data. Sound time-consuming, costly and difficult? It doesn’t have to be if you take the right approach.
Ultimately, the marketing departments at any multi-channel company are very similar; they all want to know that million dollar question…. how does the web experience compare to mobile, as well as to brick-and-mortar? The required insights go even deeper into the marketing departments investments, they will want to know channel-specific details, such as: 
  • Did the click-to-call function drive the visitor to bounce or did they make an independent phone call? 
  • Can we predict how social media will play into the channels? 
  • Did the web visitors respond more favorably to requesting an appointment or did mobile do better? 
  • Did the newsletter cause more conversions for mobile this week? 
All of these questions (and many more) can be answered by using a strategic data layer to tie in multiple channels of data together.
Getting LOST with data.

Let’s walk thru a typical fake fortune 500 corporation called “Macrotough” – a leading provider of laptop widgets. Macrotough currently uses Google Analytics Premium to track their analytics and have a whole slew of data sources expanding at an ever-increasing rate from customer, social, display, VOC, etc. Within the last year, this glorious fake company has managed to take the next step by integrating all of their data, up and down the full business intelligence stack, into a strategic data layer. So how did they do it?

The rumor is Macrotough flew all of the stakeholders to a deserted island (ala LOST, for those of you who were fans of the show) for 48 hours, without food, water, or shelter, just swimming trunks, bikinis, a whiteboard and dry erase markers, until they finally ironed out all the known systems and tools that are collecting data across their entire organization. At this point, after leaving the island, the company has all the data they need to make deeper decisions but what can they actually do with all these different channels of data now that they have it? 
As the needs of Macrotough change or expand, additional multi-channel funnels can be created to see the different variations in the user experience. Typically any company, big or small, has a blind spot in their data somewhere. For Macrotough, they typically have visitors perusing their widgets via their online store, then that same visitor might turn around and purchase a widget at the Macrotough store in the mall. In some cases, the two events take place on the same day. Ultimately, without a strategic data plan in place, the data connecting the full user, purchase path will be lost. However, with the integration of multiple data channels into a strategic data layer (such as the online data and the brick-and-mortar store data), Macrotough is now able to avoid blind spots in the data such as this. 
Macrotough, if they existed, will have an advantage over their competitors due to their ability to drive decisions using analytics, thanks to a fully integrated, strategic data layer. Although other factors may have played a role, like their commitment to team-building and higher salaries but we can’t be sure (any inference Macrotough has to a real company is purely coincidental).
Reaching the ‘happy ending’ with a multi-channel data layer.
The sources of traffic to any website are constantly working together to drive conversions and ultimately sales.  From a reporting perspective, most of the data can be captured by creating multi-channel funnels in GAP with the data layer and/or any other data that needs to be uploaded and integrated into the funnel. We routinely help organizations set up their analytics programs and there are two major steps when you first embark on setting up your data layer:
  1. Identifying the appropriate channels for the funnel
  2. Choosing how you want to see your data once the funnel is up and running
These two steps are important in understanding your organizations data funnel and how they integrate with one another. The channel definitions will be helpful when identifying the default channel grouping labels that appear in the multi-channel funnel reports – don’t skip this part!
Ultimately, without the full integration of all the potential channels of data, determining a correct course of action may be out of reach or even worse, it is providing half-truths to potential stakeholders. Without the full picture of data, there is no complete story. This leads your organizations marketing into an unbridled “choose your own adventure” tale; whereas the data layer serves as the ‘book of contents,’ helping complete the story with a beginning, middle and most importantly – a happy ending. 
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By Kyle Westgate
About the Author:

Kyle Westgate is Manager, PMO at Stratigent.

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