Google Analytics vs. Bronto Data: Know Your Numbers

Austin Caldwell, Senior Professional Services Manager

Author Bio

Austin Caldwell was a Bronto power user for five years before transitioning to the Bronto Professional Services team. He brings extensive knowledge in email, paid search, SEO, affiliate, social media, marketplace and display advertising from his management of online marketing channels for two IR 500 companies. At Bronto, Austin spearheads the Managed Services team, which handles ongoing marketing campaigns, custom integrations and special engineering projects for Bronto clients. In 2013, he received the Retail TouchPoints Channel Innovation Award for successful email, social and mobile synergy. He was previously the Marketing Director at Heels.com and Interactive Marketing Manager at eCampus.com.

From time to time, customers come to us confused between the difference in what they are seeing in Google Analytics versus what they seen in the reporting dashboard in the Bronto Marketing Platform. There are differences, so let’s go over them.

First, a bit of advice: The best way to compare Google Analytics (GA) data and Bronto data is to look at a wide date range (week or month) rather than an individual campaign’s statistics. When you compare individual campaign performance, a one-off issue could dramatically skew the results in GA or Bronto.

Step 1

Go to Home > Settings > Commerce  > Order Settings to ensure that the email conversion attribution time frame is correct. The default attribution window for GA is 30 days from the last click. The default attribution window for Bronto is set to ‘4 weeks / 1 month’, so both systems should align for an accurate comparison. If the Bronto attribution window is set to another setting like when ‘Contact closes browser’, you will need to change it to ‘4 weeks / 1 month.’ Keep in mind that any changes made to adjust the Conversion Tracking Cookie Expiration aren’t retroactive, so you’ll need to let it run for a week before you can make an accurate comparison.

Step 2

Go to Home > Connections Center to double check that Google Analytics is enabled. If not, click on the Google Analytics card and check the box. Bronto will automatically apply the Google Analytics UTM parameters for source (bronto) and medium (email), but you can modify the content and campaigns with the drop-down menu. The suggested UTM parameters are send date for utm_content and message name for utm_campaign.

For GA and Bronto comparison purposes, utm_content and utm_campaign don’t really matter as we’ll only be looking at the aggregate stats for utm_source or utm_medium. Similar to the attribution window disclaimer above, we can’t retroactively apply GA tracking if it wasn’t already enabled in the Connection Center, so you’ll need to let it run for a week before you can make an accurate comparison.

Once you’ve confirmed the attribution window, you can start to make comparisons. Bronto and GA don’t use the exact same terminology for stats, so here’s a key to how they matchup.

Google Analytics Bronto Marketing Platform
Sessions Total Clicks
Orders Conversions
Revenue Revenue

Step 3

Open a Channels Report in GA by clicking Acquisition > Overview > All Traffic > Channels. Set the custom time for the report. In this example, we set the date parameters for the month of December 2016.

Now go to Messages > Delivery Groups > All Deliveries > View Report. Click on the small calendar in the navigation and choose the same custom time range as you selected in GA. Note: You can view most of your stats in the Overview tab, but Total Clicks are on the Clicks tab.

 

Step 4

The Sessions versus Total Clicks statistics should match pretty closely between both systems. However, Orders versus Conversions and Revenue versus Revenue can be different if other sales channels influence conversions. For instance, if your subscriber clicks through a retargeting ad before their next checkout, the last click attribution will go to the ad and not your spectacular email. Note: Conversion and Revenue numbers are typically higher in Bronto than GA.

To calculate the variance between GA and Bronto stats, divide the GA numbers by Bronto. Here’s an example using sample data:

Google Analytics  Bronto Marketing Platform
12,450 Sessions 12,132 Total Clicks
694 Orders 829 Conversions
$70,223 Revenue $94,900.07 Revenue

Calculating the percentage difference takes a little bit of algebra. You can cheat with this calculator , but the formula is:

Using the formula, we see a 2.59% percent difference in Sessions/Total Clicks. That’s a pretty close match up. But Bronto is reporting higher conversions and higher revenue than GA – Bronto is reporting 17.73% higher in Orders/Conversions and 29.89% difference in GA/Bronto Revenue.

This is the type of variance we typically see between Google Analytics and Bronto. These metrics aren’t incorrect. They’re just different. As I mentioned earlier, GA’s conversion tracking is influenced by other sales channels, including retargeting and social. Bronto’s isn’t, so some of the conversions that Bronto sees as attributed to email aren’t seen by GA because something happened after the email was open but before the sale.

One thing to keep in mind: If you see that GA revenue is much higher than Bronto revenue (greater than 35%), there may be an actual issue with Bronto’s conversion tracking. If you have questions or would like help with your reporting, please contact Support or your Account Manager to help investigate.