A lot of people ask about integrating Google Analytics data with other types of data. Most people are interested in some type of CRM integration so that’s what I’m going to write about.
Let me start by saying that there is no API to Google Analytics. There is no formal way to pull data out and integrate it into some other application. Sure, there are some hacks out there to manipulate the report URLs but, in my opinion, this is a pretty big hack and I don’t recommend it to our clients.
When we talk about integrating Google Analytics with a CRM we’re talking about pulling information about the visitor’s originating source and sending it to a CRM system. We’re not going to pull the visitor’s entire history, just where they came from and attach it to other information that they enter into a form.
Why do this?
Pulling a visitor’s source information is very helpful to a sales team. Image if a sales rep could identify how a sales lead found the website before picking up the phone and contacting them? Remember, a visitor’s source info describes how the visitor found the site. Did they respond to a specific email with a certain offer? Or did they come from search and, if so, what was the keyword they used? This type of info can help a sales team understand the intent of the prospect but where in the buying process they are. That makes life for the team a little easier.
So how do we connect a visitor’s source to a visitor?
Google Analytics stores a visitor’s source data in a cookie. That cookie is named
__utmz. The data can be extracted from the cookie and added to a lead generation form. When the visitor submits the form the source information is connected to the other information that the visitor entered into the form (usually her name and other contact information).
If the contact form is integrated with a CRM application, like SalesForce.com or NetSuite, it may be possible to store the marketing information with the individual’s contact information. Direct CRM integration depends on your CRM system. Some systems allow form fields to be pulled directly into the application. Check with your CRM provider for information about your specific system.
I would like to note that you don’t need to use some fancy CRM to take advantage of this technique. You can use the technique below even if your lead form generates an email or dumps the data into a database. The key is that we’re leveraging the data in the Google Analytics cookies and connecting it with information that the visitor sends you.
1. Extract the visitor’s source data from the
2. Manipulate data as needed
3. Place data in hidden form fields
When the visitor submits the form the source data in the hidden form fields will be sent back to the server where it can be used.
The sample code below extracts the source information from the cookie and places it in some hidden form fields. Then, when the form is submitted the information is passed to the server.
Now, if this form is directly connected to a CRM then the data in the hidden form fields will go directly into the CRM along with other form info. That’s the magic. Again, you can use this method to collect source information even if the form is not connected to a CRM. Any type of lead generation form will be more valuable if you use this technique.
How The Code Works
__utmz cookie and stores it in a variable named
z. Then it parses the
z variable and looks for information about the visitor’s source. The
__utmz cookie has a number of name-value pairs separated by a pipe (‘|’) character. Each name=value pair holds a different attribute of the visitor’s source. Here’s an example of the
You can see that the name value pairs look very similar to the parameters we use for link tagging. Just by looking at the above cookie you can figure out that the visitor performed an organic search on Google for the term ‘google%2Banalytics%2Bshortcut’ or ‘google analytics shortcut’. That’s the type of information that we want to put in hidden form fields and send back to the server. [You can learn more about the
__utmz cookie in the reference section below.]
Getting back to the code, we were talking about how the code extracts the information from the z variable. It uses a function named
__uGC() extracts the value part of all the name-value pairs in the cookie. We call
_uGC() for each name-value pair that exists in the cookie. It parses the cookie and pulls out the information that we want. [If you want to know more about
_uGC() please see the reference section at the end of this post.]
Once the information is out of the
z variable the
populateHiddenFileds() functions puts the data in a series of hidden form fields. Then, when the form is submitted, the data is sent to the server.
You’ll notice a few things about the above code. I’ve added some logic to deal with AdWords auto-tagging. Auto tagging populates part of the cookie with a value named
gclid. This variable hides some of the info that we need, like source and medium. The logic in the above code populates data that would otherwise be missing. I’ve also added some code that extracts the custom segment value which is stored in the
__utmv cookie. I thought it would be useful to send this info back to the server as well.
Pulling visitor source data and connecting it with a visitor is very valuable. While your implementation will almost certainly be different, the concept illustrated above is the foundation for all implementations. Regardless of your implementation the business use for this data is fantastic.
About the _uGC() Function
_uGC() takes three arguments:
_uGC(string, start-string, end-string)
• A string to search (target string)
• A start string
• An end string
The function will return the string between start string and end string. If the start string is not found then the function will return a dash (-).
About The _utmz Cookie
__utmz cookie is the referral-tracking cookie. It tracks all referral information regardless of the referral medium or source. This means that all organic, CPC, campaign, or plain referral information is stored in the
__utmz cookie. By default the cookie expires in six months, but that can be customized by changing the tracking code.
Data about the referrer is stored in a number of name-value pairs, one for each attribute of the referral:
Identifies a search engine, newsletter name, or other source specified in the
utm_source query parameter See the “Marketing Campaign Tracking”
section for more information about query parameters.
Stores the campaign name or value in the utm_campaign query parameter.
Identifies the keywords used in an organic search or the value in the utm_term query parameter.
A campaign medium or value of utm_medium query parameter.
Campaign content or the content of a particular ad (used for A/B testing)
The value from utm_content query parameter.
A unique identifier used when AdWords auto tagging is enabled This value
is reconciled during data processing with information from AdWords.