Understanding Closed-Loop Analytics for Social Media

Jessica Taylor, Social Media Specialist

In 2020, 40 billion dollars were spent on social media advertising, a figure that’s expected to balloon to over $56 billion by 2022. As competition rises, ad budgets increase, and conversations around data usage and privacy continue to evolve; it’s imperative that advertisers increase their commitment to understanding attribution and proving return on investment.

As a social media advertiser, having this data at my fingertips allows me to make strategic optimizations that positively impact our clients’ bottom lines. In this blog, we’ll walk through the why and how of closed-loop reporting through the lens of paid media in hopes of empowering other social media marketers to take the leap towards online-to-offline attribution.

What is Closed-Loop Reporting?

As an agency, Portent has been focusing heavily on closed-loop analytics to bridge the gap in visibility between raw leads and leads that actually turned into customers. By “closing the loop” between the data in our clients’ CRMs and our paid media channels, we can suss out the most viable sources for qualified leads.

If you’re still getting acquainted with the concept of closed-loop reporting, consider starting with this webinar before diving in!

Why Does Closed-Loop Reporting Matter?

A lot of factors get weighed before making a campaign optimization. The client’s goals, budget, ad costs, and more are all typically considered before pausing out an ad set, refreshing ad copy, or readjusting targeting. Most of the time, B2B advertisers rely solely on in-platform data to inform these decisions and subsequently measure the impacts based on what’s reported in Facebook or LinkedIn.

By integrating a client’s customer database and marketing automation platform (think CRMs Salesforce, Marketo, or HubSpot) with Google Analytics, we’re able to unlock a wealth of sales data that can validate the success of your paid efforts and tie Marketing or Sales Qualified Leads back to individual campaigns.

One immediate benefit of integration is more informed budget recommendations. By understanding the platforms and campaigns that drive the greatest return on ad spend, determining immediate allocation priority and opportunity to scale investment long-term becomes more straightforward.

Perhaps most importantly, full online-to-offline data visibility paves the way for impactful conversations around KPI expectations. For example, we work with a client in a niche software space with a sales cycle that differs by product and can last anywhere from three to eight months. On top of that, the value of a won deal can be upwards of six figures.

By implementing closed-loop reporting, we were able to affirm that quantity did not always beget quality, which allowed us to reset expectations with the client around lead volume and CPA.


That said, this data is not only hugely valuable to a client to realize revenue. A data visualization like the one above can also shed light on opportunities to improve the sales process internally. While our goal as PPC or paid social advertisers is to fill our clients’ sales funnel with qualified leads, converting those leads to customers is the final step of the process, and it’s not always a simple one. Closed-loop reporting connects the dots for practitioners and clients alike and influences strategy on the sales side to help close deals.

So, How Does Closed-Loop Reporting Work?

As Michael Wiegand, our Director of Analytics, mentioned in his Online-to-Offline Attribution Made Simple blog post, there’s not a ton of information out there about integrating Google Analytics with a CRM.

The key, as Michael describes, “is setting a non-PII (Personally Identifiable Information) User ID, which will serve as a way to join the online and offline data sets together in the reporting layer.”

From there, he outlines a script formulated by our Development Architect Andy Schaff that sets a random unique identifier (RUID) cookie for each site visitor. That information can then be passed via a hidden form field into any lead form that the user fills out during their visit.

The hidden field view during form creation on LinkedIn

I’d recommend checking out Michael’s blog post for the nitty-gritty on deploying that script through Google Tag Manager, sending the RUID into a CRM, and blending the CRM data with data from GA.

To successfully achieve this integration, it doesn’t matter what types of campaigns you’re running per se. Still, we’ve found that capturing leads on-platform via a native lead form can require some extra legwork to ensure the unique ID generated within the platform is ingested successfully into a CRM.

Most of our B2B clients utilize lead gen forms on Facebook and LinkedIn to capture leads at some point in their funnel journey. Depending on a client’s CRM or marketing automation platform, navigating this setup often requires a third-party integration or a bit of manual finesse (or both).

Fortunately, I’ve been able to rely on the guidance of closed-loop extraordinaire and Senior Analytics Strategist Oeuyown Kim in these situations. Here’s what she has to say about the process:

“Although the process of integration will differ depending on your [CRM] platform, you should be able to capture some form of unique ID—either a unique form or lead ID. It’s typically easiest if [a client] has Salesforce and a direct integration, but there seem to be workarounds through third-party tools either way to pass the data.”

You can check the list of available CRM integrations on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Do I Need Closed-Loop Reporting?

If you want full visibility into the impact of your campaigns across paid social platforms, taking the steps towards closed-loop attribution is a no-brainer. Especially as the industry continues to navigate the fallout from CCPA and the recent iOS14 update, online-to-offline attribution can help empower us to make effective and impactful marketing decisions when it feels like visibility in-platform is lost.

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