American Musical Supply (AMS), one of the world’s largest suppliers of quality musical equipment, needed an integrated view of their Google Analytics (GA) data and their sales data to create reliable attribution reporting for their marketing department – they wanted to connect web traffic information with actual order details. After encountering many issues using the Google Analytics Web application and its API, AMS looked to Taurus Software for the solution.
With more than 75% of their business originating from the web, the information Google Analytics provides is a key source of data for American Musical’s marketing department. As most people know, the Google Analytics dashboard is convenient for the pure marketers, with all types of prebuilt data in charts, reports and tables in a web application. However, in terms of the questions related to their true attribution (ie, what was driving customers to place orders), AMS could not get the answers they needed by just looking at the GA Web dashboard. They needed a much granular level of data to determine exactly where their attribution was coming from – was it from ad campaigns, email blasts, and which channels gave the best ROI. They needed to know this information, and without integrated data from their other systems, the GA dashboard alone provided skewed data, often overstating sales.
‘ From a data person’s perspective, trying to get these answers from the dashboard was cumbersome – involving an excessive amount of clicking, exporting, downloading, changing filters and certainly not easy to automate’ said Jon Dickerson, American Musical’s Analytics Manager.
AMS’s goal was to achieve a decent attribution model to make good marketing decisions. They needed simple programmatic access to data inside Google Analytics that they could then easily extract and augment with operational data to get accurate attribution values. Jon was tasked with this goal.
‘Every system we build has to talk to the data and that’s a big part of the process – where does the data live, is it compatible, how many databases do I have to query, what’s the format, what the shape, can they be manipulated – this is my integration team’s work- to figure out how to make it all fit together..’ said Dickerson.
Jon tried using Google’s API to export the data from the web dashboard. The API, geared more toward technical data people, did allow him to programmatically access the data GA a little easier; however he discovered there were limitations to this as well. He found that manual coding manipulation was still required to bypass some of limitations of the API, and it was still a time consuming, manual process to download, convert, merge and publish the information to the marketing department.
AMS looked to Taurus Software’s DataBridger for Google Analytics product for a solution to streamline the process of retrieving GA data, to bypass limitations and to seamlessly blend that web traffic data with that of other key applications. As a customer of Taurus’ for over 2 years, AMS was already using DataBridger to move data into an SQL database from their Ecometry OMS system. DataBridger is an Extraction, Transformation and Load (ETL) software solution that provides real-time data movement between disparate environments that is simple, fast and automated. DataBridger for Google Analytics allows you to extract and automate your requests for Google Analytics data, giving you easy access to your web data in the formats you need. Once Jon started using DataBridger for GA, he found the product to be very intuitive and required a minimal learning curve to get it up and running. He started with one particular view –
‘We had it up and fully running in 2 days total, the initial setup was completed in hours, it ran in minutes and has run on its own with no issues since’ said Jon. ‘The practical hands-on training provided by Taurus was great. It was a perfect balance of information for both the marketers and the data programmers, which in this space of marketing analytics is often difficult to achieve.’
By implementing DataBridger for GA, Jon was actually able to replace over 350 lines of manual code and weekly manual manipulation and processing with a simple automated process that took 30 minutes to develop. This has freed him up to focus on many of their other reporting needs and maybe more importantly, has allowed him to put the data into the hands of his users, easily, without resources and reliably. A particular feature of the product he found extremely helpful was the Preview Feature – which allows you to view the effect of your changes and determine if the outcome is what you were anticipating before processing. ‘This feature has saved us significant time by allowing us to basically see any potential errors we made, and debug BEFORE the data was pulled over into the database, rather than having to fix our errors and then redo the whole process after the fact ‘ said Jon.
“One of the most important things for an ETL tool is its robustness – and DataBridger is very robust – and this is of immense value to us. DataBridger is vital in getting data from a very difficult to use format into something that is more programmable and easy to deliver to our users”.
AMS currently spends about 75% of their marketing budget in online marketing. With the use of DataBridger, attribution analytics are now available to the marketing staff as situations evolve, so they are able to react quickly. They can ‘fiddle’ with the campaign shifting spend to those strategies that are working better. Even a small percentage change in conversion can provide a significant yield in bottom line sales.
And this is just the beginning for AMS. Their grand vision is to gain full access to all the data inside GA, but joined together and sliced and diced and visualized as they see fit instead of GA’s one size fits all model. The ease of use and automation of DataBridger for Google Analytics will certainly make that process simpler for them.
To learn more about Taurus Software and our DataBridger for Google Analytics product, click here to check out the video.