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By John Lennon on 27 Aug 2015

The two major blind spots when reporting on digital marketing campaigns at the moment are cross device conversions and the research online-purchase offline (ROPO) shopper behaviour. The Google Analytics User ID view has the potential to solve these two problems, tracking your customers as they browse across devices and even going as far as to track your customers when they convert offline.

How Does Google Analytics User ID Work?

The GA User ID view is a special reporting view that only displays data from sessions in which you send unique ID and related data to Google Analytics. This enables multiple devices, sessions and engagement data to be associated with a unique ID. When that unique ID and any related engagement data is sent to Google Analytics, all activity is attributed to one user in the reports.

Got a loyalty card? Now you can measure ROPO

The ROPO shopping behaviour is when a user carries out research online for a product but then goes to the physical store to purchase it. Nowadays, it would be rare for someone to purchase an item like a laptop without them having had a look at 3 or 4 competitors’ sites, before heading to the store to make their purchase.  The User ID view has the potential to match that browsing history on your site to the in store purchase. The user would need to be logged in to your site when browsing and then use a loyalty card in store to make the purchase. The in-store purchase can then be uploaded within Google Analytics and matched up with a User ID.

Better cross device tracking

Cross Device Conversions are certainly happening, this is when a user first comes onto your website on one device, but then makes the purchase on another device. I’m sure most of us begin the research part of a purchase decision on our mobile phones possibly while commuting on the train or bus or while dual screening at home, but when shoppers actually want to make the purchase they will take out their tablet or laptop to complete the purchase. Some sites can still be a bit clunky during the checkout phase on mobile and some of us feel that it’s more secure to purchase on a laptop. At the moment we’ve got the Facebook cross device pixel and the estimated cross device conversions column in AdWords but both can be somewhat fuzzy in terms of reporting at times. Within the User ID view in Google Analytics there are 3 different reports that help us see cross device behaviour and conversions. The first of these reports is the device overlap report which will show how users use a number of devices on their path to purchase. It can display the percentage of people that used one, two or three devices while browsing. The second report is the device paths report which will show you device paths of users' browsing behaviour and conversions. This report will allow you to see the sequence of the devices used to browse your site. Google Analytics Device Overlap Report The third of these reports is a very interesting report; it is the acquisition device report. This report will show you revenue breakdown for each device by revenue from originating device and revenue from other devices. This report gives us the ability to see that mobile devices are generating plenty of revenue but the purchase is being made on another device. By using all 3 of these reports you may be able to get a better picture of how each device is doing. This report may make you reconsider the way you allocate your advertising budget across devices. For example, mobiles may have had too high a cost per conversion in AdWords so you reduced your bids but from the acquisition report you can see that they are key in the first part of the purchase process so you may decide to bring back up your mobile bids in line with your desktop bids.Google Analytics Acquisition Device Report 

Case Study:

One business that is already seeing the benefits of implementing the User ID view is Westwing, an e-commerce only company for home & living products who operate in a number of different countries around the world. The company were in quite an advantageous position for implementing the User ID view as their site requires users to log in.  Westwing were able to see that a “very high number of users switch between devices before making a purchase” and that “users prefer doing their research on smartphones and tablets but ‘close the deal’ on desktops”. Westwing say that without cross device tracking they would have overvalued desktop and considered mobile and tablet users less valuable. These are all things that we expect are happening for a lot of businesses but, with User ID view enabled, Westwing had the proof which allowed them to move budgets accordingly.

What do you need to make the Google AnalyticsUser ID view work?

Firstly, you will need to have upgraded to Universal Analytics. This enables you to set up the User ID view. You then must be able to generate your own unique IDs, consistently assign IDs to users and include these IDs wherever you send data to Google Analytics. This will require development work on your website's JavaScript. You will also need your user to be logged in when browsing the site, this may be an issue for some sites where users only usually log in when they are just about to purchase something. This is where Westwing were in a strong starting position as their site required users to log in to browse products. If you are hoping to be able to measure ROPO you will also need high loyalty card use in store which will allow you to match up in store purchases with browsing behaviour by users online. Google Analytics User ID has the potential to be a real game changer in digital marketing reporting. It may change the way you allocate your digital marketing budget in years to come. There are two benefits from having the User ID enabled: the ability to measure ROPO and cross device behaviour and conversions. However, even if you are an e-commerce only retailer, it can still be of massive benefit to you as we saw with Westwing. Also, if you have a bricks and mortar store but have no real in-store loyalty programme your business could still benefit from the cross device information that the User ID could bring you. Having the User ID view set up and working may be some way off for some businesses due to barriers such as the website development work required, low sign in rates online while browsing and low loyalty card usage in-store. However, we think it is great that there is a solution available to businesses that can potentially solve two big digital marketing reporting problems at once. Have you used Google Analytics User ID yet?  If so, we'd love to hear about your experiences. Drop us a line on Twitter so we can talk shop!

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