Attribution and data analysis are essential elements of successful digital marketing. As marketers, we must be able to track user behaviors, analyze data, and make informed decisions based on our findings. But how do we know which tool is right for us? In this blog post, we’ll compare two popular attribution tools—Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Attribuly for Shopify—in order to help you decide which one is best suited to your needs.
GA4 and Attribuly take different approaches to identity resolution: how to map user data across platforms, and devices into a single user profile.
GA4 relies more on its browser power and Google account to track user behaviors and map them together. But GA4 can't store and aggregate customer emails is a critical lack. This is important for customer journey and tracking subscription & recurring based ecommerce business.
Attribuly combines different customer signals for identity resolution, like email/ phone numbers and device ID to connect users' activities across devices, which GA4 can't. This also means you can track customer journeys over a longer period, from acquisition to retention, which is also hard for GA4.
Data collection and integration
For customer behavior data collection, GA4 uses its datalayer. Shopify has just accounced that GA4 will be supported by its native Shopify pixel. So I expect that intalling data layer will be much easier than before, and no more code job required. For other integration, GA4 supports its own Google ads, but not Facebook ads or other platforms. This is quite common for walled gardens, Google is one of them.
So you can't identify Facebook ads and Facebook organic traffic, since they are all social media. You can't identify Tiktok or other paid social as well. You can't identify Klaviyo customer infomation, since there is no data integration. There are lot of limiations when you expand your non-google traffic.
Another issue is, GA4 is a black box, you don't know how Google calculates the conversions, you don't know how accurate the data is. While Attribuly gives a clear customer behavior record for each conversion, so you know the data is accurate.
Attribuly has integrated with 10+ touchpoints, including Facebook and Tiktok. It tracks customer conversions at single ad level. Now lot of users relay heavily on Attribuly's Facebook conversion data to make data driven decisions.
By linking your Google Ads account to your GA4 property, you can see which keywords are driving conversions, how many impressions and clicks each keyword has, and the cost per conversion. This information can be used to optimize your campaigns for better results. GA4 also offers different attribution models to give credits to different campaigns, including its Data Driven Attribution model, which uses Shapley's algorithm.
However, it’s worth noting, there’s a direct relationship between identity resolution, data integration and advertising attribution.
For example, if someone visits a website, GA will see them as person A. If they return three weeks later to the same website but have in the meatime, for example, deleted their cookies, Google will now see them as person B.
When this happens, it no longer matters what attribution model you use—it could be first touch or multi-touch. Google views them as two different people who came from different campaigns versus one person who came from two campaigns. In this situation, any attribution modeling will fail you.
Attribuly excels in knowing that person A and person B are the same. With its attribution capabilities, Attribuly has a more accurate count of unique visitors, and now your conversion funnels are going to be more precise—as you’ll be able to see what marketing campaigns are helping you.
Furthermore, Shapley's algorithm requires more data including ads spend besides Google ads. But the lack of Facebook and other platforms' data is limiting its capability.
As influencer marketing has become a major method for all eCommerce brands, The performance tracking is a natural requirement for brands. More and more influencers are also open to being paid by CPC,CPS, even CPATC(Cost Per Add-To-Cart).
Google Analytics (GA) is a great tool for tracking website data, but it lacks one key capability - the ability to identify influencers as independent traffic. Without this feature, marketers can find it impossible to measure the value of their influencer relationships and make informed decisions about their content budget. That's where Attribuly comes in: the platform has designed a module dedicated towards creator economy. Attribuly let creators access tracking code, promo codes, creative assets, and tracking data in a centralized portal. Marketers benefit from these resources too by using them to manage campaigns and maximize ROI, all while having transparent interactions with influencers whose interests are in-line with their own.
Attribution Models & Accuracy
GA offers machine learning based attribution mode, called data driven attribution model. But it’s worth noting, there’s a direct relationship between identity resolution, data integration and advertising attribution. So you will find a lot of direct trafffic from GA4, since the lack of integrations. Both provide single-touch and multi-touch attribution models.
- Linear multi-touch
- Position based multi-touch
To collect customer key metrics for Shopify store, merchants need heavy work to configure GA and/or Google tag manager. The job also leads to a lot of wrong conversion tracking. While for Attribuly, the conversion tracking is quite easy, since it integrates with Shopify store data and Shopify pixel.
Data export & retention
GA4 stores your full data for a maximum of 14 months on the free plan. You need connect to BigQuery database for longer time storage.
In contrast, Attribuly stores your entire history, giving you more flexibility in how you use and analyze your data. As a result, Attribuly is a better choice if you want long-term access to your data. The open API is also in roadmap for you to connect your own database.
An effective digital marketing strategy requires robust analytics tools capable of providing actionable insights into customer behavior and campaign performance. When comparing GA4 vs Attribuly for attribution purposes, there are several key factors that must be considered including tracking capabilities, attribution models accuracy, and data storage options. While both tools offer comprehensive tracking capabilities along with flexible data storage options; only Attribuly offers advanced Facebook ads tracking, Influencer tracking and collaborations!
If you are looking for traffic analysis at a stastic level, Google analytics 4 is great choice.
If you are looking for Facebook tracking, influencer tracking and user level conversion journey, Attribuly is your choice.