I like to introduce you to Google Analytics 2.0: Universal Analytics. This new, improved version of GA recently came out of beta and is officially launched. Google Analytics (now referred as ‘Classic Analytics’) has been rebuild from the ground up: from tracking code to ecommerce tracking to event handling. From now on, updates will only be implemented in Universal Analytics. Time for a closer look!
What is Universal Analytics?
Look-wise, not much has changed. UA looks quite the same as Classic Analytics, as well are the available dashboards and KPI reports. But what did have changed then, you ask?
The collection and storage of data is completely different. Users are using more and more devices than ever, making it increasingly difficult for analysts to properly analyze data. Google aimed to provide a better view of all the touch points users are using to interact with companies, making the data collection visitor based instead of visit based.
The Measurement Protocol took cross-device measurement out of our fantasy into reality. Where Classic Analytics could only measure websites and apps, UA can measure all devices. Think about the amount of visitors in your store, for instance. Through this protocol you can import both online and offline conversion data into your analytics account.
Universal Analytics also makes it possible to import data from external sources, like someone’s education. Both these updates offers a much higher flexibility in collecting data.
Most important features
1. Cross-device measurements
As said, users are using more devices than ever. Someone could research for a new laptop on his smartphone in the train, and profoundly seal the deal on his tablet at home. This raises the question on how to follow a visitor over different devices.
Universal Analytics has the answer to this through a so-called User ID. This user ID makes it possible to follow visitors who use different devices and track those down to one single visitor. After implementing this User ID on your website, the following reports become available:
- Device overlap: Through a clear visualization, this report shows which overlapping devices visitors are using.
- Device paths: Shows which devices a visitor has used to visit your website and eventually converted with.
- Acquisition device: This report displays the direct and indirect contribution per device. What actions does someone undertake on their cellphone, and what actions on their tablet?
2. On and offline tracking
By using someone’s unique User ID, on and offline purchases by the same person can be connected and analyzed. For instance, if someone downloads a coupon online and buys something in a physical store. Such transactions can be analyzed in UA via a tailored metric and dimension, measuring the success of specific coupons.
Also the transactions with a specific customer card can be seen in your analytics account; another tool to divide the online from the offline purchases. An example of this is what Albert Heijn is currently doing with its new customer cards, where customers have to registers and Albert Heijn keeps track on their purchase behavior.
UA makes it possible to discover cross-relations, which makes it possible for analysts to define interesting segments and apply onsite targeting on them. This could be, showing tailored content that meet the needs of specific segments.
3. Set up or edit metrics and dimensions
Where Classic Analytics offered only 5 variables, Universal Analytics offers to possibility to create up to 20 ‘custom dimensions’, and on top of that 20 ‘custom metrics’. Through these custom dimensions and metrics you can import additional data into your analytics account. They can vary from your computer game’s high-score to average order value.
This that you’re no longer tied to the standardized dimensions and metrics in your analytics account, but you can alter them as you wish.
Time to upgrade
Besides the killer features Universal Analytics offers us mentioned above, there are three other, practical reasons to migrate your GA account to pull you over the edge:
- Because you have to: There’s no end date in sight yet, but Google will eventually stop supporting Classic Analytics.
- Google supports users upgrading their GA account. There’s no need for a new GA account so all your data is saved.
- Every new feature Google launches for GA will from now on only be available for Universal Analytics. So if you don’t want to fall behind, it’s time for an update.
Became just as enthusiast as I am? Here’s a three-minute video on how to upgrade your GA account to Universal Analytics:
In the end, success is defined by the person managing the tools he or she possesses, not the tools themselves. To make Universal Analytics a success you have to go beyond collecting and register data: a switch needs to be made to analyze user behavior and characteristics to create a tailored approach for specific segments. Universal Analytics offers all the tools you need to take this step.