I have been working with Adobe and Google technology since 2004. Since 2010 I have been consulting with companies across most industries here in the UK but also across Europe and North America. One of the questions I get asked a lot is which one is better… Google Analytics 360 or Adobe Analytics. The true answer – and the one that no one ever likes to hear – is that ‘it depends’. It depends on your business model, maturity, team structure and skill-set, advertising approach and much more.
To get hold of my detailed review, all 13,000 delicious words of it, then please click the button below and submit your details to me. I’ll be in touch to provide the PDF version to you. This also has a very informative 20 minute screen-share video where I detail some key differences in analysis capabilities between the tools with a common eCommerce use-case:
Both GA360 and AA are excellent analytics tools capable of providing summarised real-time data as well as near real-time rich insights capability. They have fundamentally different use-cases related to just how much value they would provide any business not just in retail. This value always comes down to the following key components and what I use whenever advising a business as to which one to pick:
- Business Model (i.e. use cases)
- Team Structure & Maturity
- Size/Scale of the Business
Quite simply, the more basic your data model is the more likely you are to gravitate towards GA360 and Vice Versa to AA. If you sell physical widgets online only and you do this via a drop-ship method then you have an extremely simple business model. You’re ultimately selling a product in the most cost effective way but you don’t really have any control over the quality of the product and as such much control over the experience for the customer. In this situation all you’re really going to care about is selling as much of this product as possible to the end consumer and as such you will have a very active sales acquisition and retention programme. You won’t have a complex need to cross-sell or up-sell additional products, understand the different industry or fashion trends in regard to buying behaviour, ensure you’re providing the right message at the right place in the right time across multiple customer touch-points both online and offline.
In the above scenario I really cannot think of any reason why I would be recommending anything but GA360. The type of business will likely have additional technology such as an ESP to re-engage with past purchasers to let them know about the latest version of the widgets or perhaps with a cyclical message in relation to how often people buy those widgets during their lifetime. They might even have a testing tool (Google Optimize most likely) to help increase conversion rates for advertising traffic but there isn’t a strong need to have a real-time unified profile and journey orchestration system to manage the entire experience.
Conversely, a business that has multiple touch-points such as physical stores, a website, an app, call-centre, catalogue and more really need to join their customer journey strategy up to ensure they’re not inadvertently damaging the experience. Without a real-time unified customer profile and journey orchestration tool it would (and clearly is based on our experiences) be very easy to send customers conflicting messages about products to buy. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve received an email with a promotion for a product that I have no interest in, would never have interest in and have certainly never shown interest in… the more messages like this I receive the more I lose focus on that brand and start to ignore them. With so much choice available to us now I will only listen to brands if they listen to me!
Team Structure & Maturity
Perhaps you do have a complex business model but for various reasons the business does not have a structure that lends itself well to capitalising on technologies that help orchestrate the customer journey in real-time. Perhaps the business has been sold a ’digital transformation’ vision by a major management consulting company and now has very specific functions set up to achieve this programme which ignores the fact that the customer absolutely does not care that you have 17 different departments all owning different parts of their journey. It’s not uncommon for me to recommend that brands walk before they run. In the scenario just illustrated I have often seen technology purchases as a solution to an organisational challenge… it absolutely is not. It would be like a nation thinking they can compete in a heptathlon at the olympics because they have 7 specialist athletes that currently compete across the heptathlon disciplines.
The organisational structure as an absolute minimum must be in place to achieve an effective orchestration of the entire customer journey. That’s not to say that the 18th division needs to be set up specifically to deal with this although in some cases that might be the most effective solution. Ideally a cross-functional team with direction from the top operates to align all other divisions into a common set of goals and languages that all revolve around the customer experience, not such acquisition, revenue or order rates in a way where all departments try and claim attribution for the same metric.
Maturity is harder to achieve and is generally something that comes with time AND retention of staff. Another thing I hear a lot is businesses telling me that they might not want to bring in consulting support because they’re ‘trying to build internal capability’. The fact of the matter is that I want the same thing. I really don’t like it when we are the longest serving member of our client’s teams. We are most effective and deliver the highest value for our clients when there is a very clear direction surrounding customer experience and we can work with the clients to build this capability over time and use technology in the right way over the course of our engagement to facilitate this. At no point would I ever be advocating some sort of mass technology purchase and ‘big bag’ project to solve challenges a business faces. It just burns people out, causes attrition and doesn’t actually move the business forward… a situation some big management consultancies revel in because they can keep a constant supply of sub-contractors flowing through a business like this while also enjoying large technology purchase kick-backs.
Size/Scale of Business
This is not always as linear as you might think BUT generally speaking there is a minimum size where it really doesn’t make sense for me to start recommending Adobe tech. As a rough guide this will be a business with a turnover (from digital sales) of less than £10m. There are of course some exceptions to this in that the business might be relatively new and while at less than £10m turnover are on a trajectory that would see them hitting £50m+ within a couple of years. In that scenario it may be important to put them on a technology purchase path that won’t require them to replatform within 18 months. There are also other scenarios where a business is well in excess of £10m turnover but the digital sales are a relatively small proportion of this. Again, in this case it may make more sense to start with something a little less featureful which can still help improve digital experiences but doesn’t address the entire set of use-cases.
As you can see, despite there being consistent levers to a recommendation it really will ‘depend’ when it comes to actually providing the best recommendation for a business. What I at least can guarantee is that whatever advice I (or my team) give, it will be entirely objective, fully justified and documented as to why. The DMPG business model is designed to work by enabling our clients to achieve the optimal digital customer experience. We are wholly owned by 2 directors that share this vision. We do not have to answer to investors or other shareholders that just care about return on their investment regardless of how we do it. I don’t really understand how other consultancies can objectively say the same thing when they are answerable to outside influences. It was also the main reason I set the company up 7 years ago. At the time I had a very client-focused mentality coming from client-side roles and I have retained this in every aspect of the DMPG growth strategy.
If you would like to hear more about this particular topic or anything related to building an optimal digital customer experience then don’t hesitate to contact me. It’s not hard to find me and I will never try and sell you anything. If you want to procure the DMPG services then great but this is just the icing on the cake for me though.