Consolidating data from various analytics platforms into one location is a very challenging task with extremely limited free solutions. Most companies that offer these services charge enterprise level amounts and require technical implementations to achieve such an arduous task. Fortunately, for a large proportion of internet users that use Google Analytics for their data reporting, there is a free feature that allows you to import 3rd party data into your Google Analytics data to create an all encompassing data reporting platform.
Google Data Import
Google Data Import, is a new tool that was included in the public release of Universal Analytics, the newest version of Google Analytics. It allows you to upload and join data generated by 3rd parties and offline business systems with your Google Analytics data. By combining data from various marketing channels, you are able to have a unified look at which channels are driving the most success to your business. This may sound complicated, but in typical Google fashion, the tool is extremely easy to use and requires limited technical ability.
How it Works
Data Import works in a two-fold manner. The user first decides on a reporting configuration, based on whether their type of data fits Google’s predefined importation configurations (user, cost, content, campaign, product, refund) or a custom format. After choosing a reporting configuration, the user must then pick a primary database key that will allow for their custom dimensions and metrics to match up with Google Analytics’ reporting measurements. For database users, this seems like standard database relationship modeling, but for non-technical users, this might be a difficult idea to grasp.
An example, for those confused by this concept, is to think about the data you pull from any analytics platform and the common elements that can be found in all of the reports. In typical reports, the most common dimension is the date. This is a time-based dimension that is also used in Google Analytics reporting and thus a common key value that will allow you to take offline or 3rd party data and properly import it Google Analytics; with the data being inserted at the date range found in your imported report.
Sold on Data Import, but afraid to make mistakes in the data importation process?
Thankfully, Google allows you to overwrite behavior, which means that you have the option to choose whether your duplicated data overwrites the previously imported data or if you would like to add it to the already imported data. This type of “reset” button will put most marketers at ease. This also supplies a major benefit to power users dealing with large data files, that potentially contained improper formatting during the importation process, who would not catch the error unless seeing it within the Google Analytics dashboard. As a result of this feature you can simply fix the formatting issue and re-upload it in the supported file formats (csv).
Understanding the big picture
Google Analytics Data Import, is a digital marketers dream tool. It takes the guesswork out of trying to analyze data sets from different analytics tools and ensures that you will be able to clearly identify trends and, thus, better adapt to the subtlest changes in performance. Never before has a tool been freely available that allows a user, regardless of their knowledge, to easily store their data for reporting in one place. Quit the guesswork involved in assessing marketing channels and improve your data clarity with the simplicity of a file upload.