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Insights on Data Audits

By 17th March 2021September 15th, 2021No Comments

During my period of redundancy, I have been working on free mini data audits based around Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM). I have audited a range of brands and industries; I find it intriguing to see where brands are in their data maturity journey. Both Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager play a key role in the data maturity journey for brands.

Audit Structure  

The structure behind the GA and GTM mini audits came from the balanced scorecard approach to provide a concise view on the current set-up with an audit score to make clear what the next steps are.

Both GA and GTM audits were structured in the same way:

  • Split into 3 categories:
    • Business Critical Requirements.
    • Business Minimum Requirements.
    • Business Advanced Requirements.
  • The scoring areas were split into 3 levels:
    • 1 – Not implemented.
    • 5 – Partially implemented.
    • 10 – Fully implemented.

Both Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager audits has a total score of 150. The overall scores were split into 3 levels:

  • Google Analytics:
    • Needs attention – Under 50.
    • Very Good – 50 to 110.
    • Excellent – 110 to 150.
  • Google Tag Manager:
    • Needs attention – Under 60.
    • Very Good – 60 to 140.
    • Excellent – 150.

The Audits

The aim of the article is to dissect this chart in more detail.

Google Analytics

Business Critical Requirements: (Max score 50)

From the 3 categories this is the most important category where the set-up and approach must be flawless. This is creating the base and drive the insights and growth.

  • 40% scored between 40 and 50.
  • 27% scored between 30 and 40.
  • 34% scored under 30.

Looking at the key scoring areas:

  • 20% had a solid UTM tagging / channel definition approach.
  • 32% did not have the right conversion tracking set-up as per business requirements.
  • 22% scored a 10 in each scoring area. Scoring a max 50.

The split across the 3 scores is not surprising, it is how I have found a lot of the Google Analytics accounts set-up. The 32% is concerning that the basics in conversion tracking have not been implemented correctly which is a critical requirement. UTM tagging is one the easiest and quickest wins to provide the right kind of insights, not really surprised with the 20%. Meaning there is limited visibility how different tactics, channels, campaigns are performing.

Business Minimum Requirements: (Max score 60)

These are the must haves where it provides additional data and insights with a lot of quick wins that can be implemented.

  • 18% scored between 50 and 60.
  • 10% scored between 40 and 50.
  • 70% scored under 40.

Looking at the key scoring areas:

  • 30% had event tracking set-up and working correctly.
  • 38% goals were not collecting data.
  • 18% only had an error page set-up.

With 70% scoring under 40 is not surprising. 30% to 40% having event tracking working or goals set-up correctly is poor it is the minimum set-up that should be done and relatively quick wins. 18% only having an error page is higher than I thought it may be, but it is another quick win which provides actionable insights.

Business Advanced Requirements: (Max score 40)

A fully robust measurement framework will allow a detailed implementation to provide richer data and insights.

  • 16% scored between 30 and 40.
  • 6% scored between 20 and 30.
  • 76% scored under 20.

Looking at the key scoring areas:

  • 28% had a funnel set-up.
  • 4% had calculated metrics set-up.
  • 22% had custom dimensions / metrics set-up.
  • 2% scored a 10 in each scoring area. Scoring a max 40.

76% scoring under 20 is what I would have expected, I would have hoped to see a higher % across  the key scoring areas as this is where the real insights and growth comes for business with an advanced analytics set-up. It does require having a detailed measurement framework and understanding of the business requirements to get it implemented.

Summary of Google Analytics Audits

The aim should be to score minimum 110.

  • 22% scored 110 to 150.
  • 38% scored 50 to 110.
  • 40% scored under 50.

22% scoring 110 to 150 is significant, the highest score being 145. 60% scoring over 50 I would say is the critical base, higher than I expected but there is room for improvements. Once you have the critical base set-up then the business questions from the insights generated would require an advanced analytics set-up where 22% had it set-up.

Google Tag Manager

Business Critical Requirements: (Max score 60)

From the 3 categories this is the most important where having a robust set-up will create a solid base to enhance the GTM and Google Analytics set-up.

  • 71% scored 50 to 60.
  • 2% scored 40 to 50.
  • 25% scored under 40.

Looking at the key scoring areas:

  • 51% did not have a robust set-up and access management to their GTM.
  • 71% had the main KPI triggers set-up.
  • 28% did not have an updated Google Analytics conversion tag. In most cases the triggers were not updated to recent changes.
  • 28% scored a 10 in each scoring area. Scoring a max 60.

71% scoring between 50 to 60 was a surprise, but it really needs to have a pristine set-up at 100%. 51% not having a consistent governance is one my bug-bears, it is a relative quick win. 28% not having GA conversion tag active mainly down to technical changes is poor practice and it should not really be happening.

Business Minimum Requirements: (Max score 80)

These are the must haves, in providing additional insight to supporting vendors with their requirements and maintaining a good GTM set-up.

  • 40% scored 60 to 80.
  • 24% scored 40 to 60.
  • 35% scored under 40.

Looking at the key scoring areas:

  • 89% did not have a process of pausing tags.
  • 11% had a consistent governance process.
  • 60% did not have an active Google Adwords conversion tag.
  • 37% had an active Google Adwords and Facebook conversion tag.
  • 11% scored a 10 in each scoring area. Scoring a max 80.

The range of scoring is not a surprise as it comes down to the requirements of the business and what kind of tags are required. Looking at the key scoring areas where 89% are not managing the process of pausing tags in a data privacy world it is risky. 11% only having a good governance process making it easier to manage and work within GTM. Most of the GTM accounts had multiple users who were making changes which is harder to govern.

Business Advanced Requirements: (Max score 10)

Supporting the measurement framework with advanced technical set-up supporting the wider business requirements.

  • 23% scored 10.
  • 77% scored under 10.

The definition of an advanced technical set-up is open for every business and how its defined there are a variety of solutions that can be achieved using Google Tag Manager. 23% scoring 10 is significant and there were a few who could have scored 20 if It were in the scorecard.

Summary of Google Tag Manager Audits

The score split matches the 3 different categories where the aim should be to score minimum 140.

  • 11% scored 140 to 150.
  • 80% scored 60 to 140.
  • 9% scored under 60.

There is a higher standard of set-up for Google Tag Manager with 80% scoring between 60 and 140 which are the minimum requirements needed for a solid GTM set-up. With the minimum set-up it allows you to build an advanced set-up where only 11% had that.

Assessing Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager Audits

Both audits have the same structure and scoring approach, the only difference is how the 3 categories are constructed.

Looking at the audit scores of the brands who scored in the top tier there is a clear trend between Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager there is a gap of technical knowledge and understanding of business requirements as we can see the drop off from business critical to business advanced.

The biggest insight is business critical and business minimum are the ones that need to be fully implemented against business requirements correctly then business advanced is the longer term goal.

Other key insights:

  • 11% scored 130+ in GA and 120+ in GTM.
  • 11% scored between 100 and 130 in GA and 100 and 120 in GTM audits.
  • 60% of GA audits scored 100+ that were not using GTM.
  • 33% had an audit score of 100+ in GTM but had an audit score of <100 for GA.
  • 7% scored <50 in both GA and GTM.

How many years of data?

The unofficial rule is that longer the data the better. If brands can collect quality long data over an extended period it will help them forecast and plan better. For every business they will need to build a base and that will need to be defined. My definition was traffic and KPI data within Google Analytics. I would say that is the minimum requirements for any business to help them understand the value of their marketing and impact on the business. 3 years of data is a minimum requirement to do i.e., any form of modelling, 5 years then you know the business are in an exceptionally good position and anything over 5+ years then it is an extremely strong position. Longer the data it provides the ability to answer business questions and build predictive scenarios around it.

There is a clear trend that there is a minimum 50% drop off from 1 year to 5+ years of data which is alarming but not surprising as well. Most of the reasons for not having long data are technical, mis-management or business requirements not mapped out.

Nailing the business critical requirements becomes a necessity for all brands as the chart below shows. 40% for GA and 71% for GTM speaks volumes.

Assessing different Industries

I have audited 12 different industries in total, looking at the top 5 industries I audited. (150 is the highest audit score for GA & GTM)

  • Retail and Travel have the highest average for GA & GTM which is no surprise as they are more likely to have a more sophisticated approach + setup and a team internally supporting the business.
  • Automotive having the worst average is no real surprise, it is changing times for the industry but have struggled to grasp Analytics.
  • Would have expected Finance and Hospitality to be better than the average they currently have I would say it is a fair reflection.

Additional Insights

After completing the audits, I shared 8 questions to get their view on the audit results and few other questions on data, tech, and measurement.

The questions were:

  1. How did you view the Google Analytics audit scores?
  2. How did you view the Google Tag Manager audit scores?
  3. Have you explored the impact of Google Analytics 4 on the business?
  4. Have you deployed Google Analytics 4?
  5. Have you explored the impact of Server Side Tag Manager on the business?
  6. Have you investigated moving away from the Google stack?
  7. If you have investigated moving away from the Google stack what has stopped, you?
  8. Have you looked at other measurement techniques?

How were the GA & GTM audit scores viewed?

  • 82% expected the audit scores they got, 18% said it was un-expected.
  • 18% who said it was un-expected it primarily came from brands who had a strong audit score over 100 in both GA & GTM.

Explored the impact of GA4 and deployed GA4?

  • 28% have explored the impact of GA4 on the business.
  • Of the 28% who had explored 22% had implemented Google Analytics 4.

Explored Server Side Tag Manager

  • 10% have explored server side tag manager.

Moving away from the Google stack?

  • 20% have investigated moving away from the Google stack.

  • 18% said the complexity of moving stack or do not know where to start has halted any progress.
  • 8% said No also mentioned they are committed to Google.

 

Developed a measurement framework?

  • 30% have created a measurement framework
  • 70% have not created a measurement framework

With 30% only having a measurement framework it correlates with the data directly the brands who have a measurement framework scored higher in the audits.    

Looked at other measurement techniques?

  • 24% have explored measurement techniques beyond last click with MMM being the most popular at 16%.
  • The 20% who have explored looking beyond the Google stack have also looked at other measurement techniques.

Summary

There is still a significant gap between the business requirements and how technically its executed and it will vary for each business what that means. This is a big area that business need, to invest in internally or find the right external partner to help them on their journey.