Universal Analytics: What you need to do next...

Universal Analytics: What you need to do next...

May 12 2014 | by ROBIN PAINTER

As digital marketing grows ever stronger, so does the need to collect data to measure and optimise performance of all digital activity.

That digital activity is across multiple platforms, devices and screen sizes, and businesses are adapting their marketing efforts to ensure their message is being communicated effectively across the board.

In fact, around 20% of all media spend is on integrated multi-screen campaigns, which is expected to grow to 50% by 2016.

The importance of multi screen

But, how do we track the user journey from screen to screen and device to device, attributing a conversion to a particular campaign to justify the marketing spend? With Universal Analytics, this is now possible.

So what's new?

When you look at Universal Analytics (UA) for the first time, you’ll think that not a lot has changed - the interface is pretty much the same as before. However, Universal Analytics brings with it some key changes and improvements to the way we track users.

Cross device measurement

UA’s User ID feature allows businesses to track users across multiple devices. This feature includes some really insightful reports to help understand which devices and behaviors generate greater value.

For example, the device overlap report will help you identify what devices a visitor used to access your content, and the device paths report will show the last five devices that were used in the lead up to a conversion, as demonstrated below.

However, in order for the User ID feature to work throughout Universal Analytics, a user needs to authenticate with your website through a sign-in facility, so that you can pass the User ID into Universal Analytics.

Unless you require your users to sign-in, you will not be able to fully appreciate the benefit of cross device measurement and some of the other features outlined in this blog post.

Offline tracking

UA uses the Measurement Protocol to allow you to send data to UA from any system or device. For the first time, this will allow you to track offline activity by gathering data from various electronic devices.

For example, if you are a retailer with high street stores, you could pass information into UA from your footfall measurement devices. Or, you could send data from call center systems, point of sale systems, etc.

CRM integration

In Universal Analytics you can send information from your customer database (CRM) to give you additional context in your reports.

For example, by associating age demographics to User IDs, you can see how different age groups access different types of content, and which acquisition sources are best at engaging with different groups of users.

Other improvements

Other positive changes introduced by Universal Analytics include:

  • The use of simplified and more accessible configuration options, meaning less customisation is required as more can be controlled with the admin area of your account
  • Improvements to custom dimensions and metrics, resulting in the ability to create reports specific to your business.

Universal Analytics timeline

Eventually, Universal Analytics will replace classic Google Analytics, which we’ve all become accustomed to over the years. However, this isn’t going to happen any time soon, and we have at least 2 years to move across to Universal Analytics.

The Universal Analytics timeline is broken down into 4 phases:

  • Phase 1: All properties can upgrade to UA (Complete)
  • Phase 2: Auto transfer process begins (Complete)
  • Phase 3: Universal Analytics comes out of beta mode and all features are supported (Current Phase)
  • Phase 4: Universal Analytics replaces the existing classic Google Analytics

Moving to Universal Analytics

At AlphaQuad, we recommend the following migration process to our clients:

  1. Create a new UA web property
  2. Run this in parallel with the existing classic Google Analytics property (main property)
  3. Compare and contrast both properties over an appropriate period of time to validate UA reporting
  4. Once validated, initiate the transfer of the existing main property - migrating from GA to UA, if not already auto transferred
  5. Complete the transfer by updating the main property tracking code
  6. Remove the, now duplicated, UA tracking code from the website, leaving the main property tracking that reports all historical data.

Next steps

We will be in touch with all existing clients to let you know when your sites will migrate to Universal Analytics, but in the meantime if you have any questions then please just get in touch and, as always, we’ll be happy to help.

For anybody else who needs help moving to Universal Analytics, then just give us a call on 01789 491 610 and our team of experts are on hand to support you.