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By Brendan Almack on 4 Feb 2016

Cross device tracking has been a constant challenge for digital marketers as consumers move fluidly across mobile, tablet and desktop throughout their purchase journey.

The launch of Universal Analytics and the User ID, took a big step towards solving this problem. Not only that, it even opened the door just a crack for potentially solving the research online, purchase offline (ROPO) problem too.

Here, Brendan discusses how to make use of Google’s Universal Analytics and User ID to carry out cross device tracking and potentially track purchases in your physical store too. By making use of these new Google Analytics features you'll be better informed when making big decisions on allocating your online advertising budget.

Video Transcript:

Hi, everyone. I'm Brendan and today I'm going to be talking to you about cross device tracking.

What is Cross Device Tracking?

Cross device tracking describes the phenomenon of people moving from one device to another device. This is a very common journey and you probably do it yourself, where you might start your journey carrying out a search on a mobile device. You might complete your journey later that day on a desktop device, or maybe on a tablet device. Or maybe you'll complete your journey the next day when you get into work, sitting down at your desk. Tracking that cross device journey is notoriously difficult, particularly when we use cookies. (Alan discusses this in greater detail here).

Enter Universal Analytics and the User ID

Google have actually helped us in a really interesting way to track cross device and they've done that with Universal Analytics. When Universal Analytics was released, one of the features that was released with Universal Analytics is something called a User ID feature. This is where it gets really interesting, because the User ID feature allows us to associate engagements across multiple sessions from multiple devices. Within Google Analytics, the User ID feature is considered to be a unique user. So we're tracking the user, not the session. You can define that unique ID from your CRM system, or maybe from your logged-in system if people are logging into your website, or even from your email database. That allows us to track across devices. When a user moves from a mobile device to a tablet device, using the User ID we can track that journey.

User ID Reporting

One of the best things for me as a paid search marketer, about the User ID feature is the additional reporting I now get access to. The reporting looks something like this.

I can see the paths of conversion by device. So the top one, I can see some users have gone from desktop to mobile, some users have gone from mobile to desktop. Then, as you see, it gets more complicated. Some users go from mobile to desktop back to mobile. These are paths of conversion by device.

Then I get some other reports that show me the overlap between devices. In this particular case, for this particular client, I can see that 40% of conversions are generated from users using multiple devices. That's really interesting. Because if I look at my mobile conversion in isolation, like a lot of people do, it's not telling the full story. I might start to pull back on my bids because I think mobile conversion rate is particularly low. But when I get access to something like this, I can see well actually, mobile on its own mightn’t convert that well, but it's contributing to conversions on desktop and it's contributing to conversions on tablet. It's a really important form of reporting that allows me to optimise smarter, optimise more intelligently.

User ID for Multichannel Retailers

If you're a multichannel retailer, things get even more interesting. Let's say for example you've defined your User ID from your CRM system. That CRM system is probably also linked to a loyalty card. So when a user goes into your shop, if you're a brick-and-mortar retailer, and makes a purchase, you can track that entire journey. This is where it gets really, really interesting because people talk about ROPO, this whole phenomenon of research online, purchase offline, but nobody has really got a good handle on actually tracking it. With the User ID feature and with something like a loyalty card, you can see a user carrying out a search and then coming to your website to have a look at an item, and you can follow them right through to that in-store purchase. When people start tracking those offline sales, that will change the complexion of how they view their digital marketing and the value that it actually offers.

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