Over the past several months you may have heard lots of mention of the new Universal Analytics, the latest-and-greatest version of Google Analytics that left beta testing in April. This update includes new features that provide better insight into how users interact with your website.
But is it worth the time and effort to upgrade? This is the question that many of our clients have asked. Short answer: Yes.
Without further ado, here are some of the most important reasons to upgrade to Universal Analytics:
1. Classic Analytics is being depreciated. Eventually all properties will be forced to upgrade no matter what. Google has publicly stated their upgrade plan and is no longer rolling out new features for Classic Analytics. This is very important. Classic Analytics users will miss out on a number of great new features like Enhanced Ecommerce. Eventually, properties using the ga.js or dc.js libraries will stop receiving support and data processed from these depreciated libraries will remain available for at least 2 years, but beyond that we don’t know for how long.
2. Enhanced data granularity. Using the new User ID feature, you can associate a single user across various devices. This is best understood without the association. For example, in Classic Analytics, if Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters visits your website from his desktop browser, his iPhone and iPad, all three visits would be counted as a unique visitor. However, if you used the User ID feature, Dave is counted as one unique visitor with three different sessions.
3. Device agnostic data collection. You can add Universal Analytics’ new collection protocol to any digital device: Android, iOS, game consoles, information kiosks, ski lifts, ice cream truck POS systems - the possibilities are endless. This allows you to measure your business across every single customer interaction.
4. Enhanced settings configuration. In the new Universal Analytics you can now tailor your data collection to fit your needs. Below is a list of new settings:
- Session Timeouts - This measures how long a session is considered active, allowing to fine tune your data. For example, if your website automatically logs out a user after a certain period of inactivity for security purposes, you could set session timeouts in Google Analytics to mirror this process.
- Campaign Timeouts - This affects how long a UTM tag is counted as a conversion.
- Excluding Search Terms - Most traffic is via branded keywords and in your reports, you can exclude branded keywords to see your true SEO performance.
- Excluding Referrals - Self-referrals can be a problem, but this feature helps cuts through the noise to provide a more accurate view of your data.
- Cookie Tracking Length - The tracking cookie now lasts two years and works across all subdomains, eliminating massive amounts of customization to send data across multiple domains.
5. Custom Dimensions and Metrics. This is one of my favorite features. Custom Dimensions and Metrics allow you to customized types of data you wish to collect and assign them to visitors. You can use dimensions to determine if a user was logged-in, if they were included in an A/B test you ran, have they shared any of your links on social media, have they made a purchase, etc.
6. Many more new features. There have been several new features released since April, but users of older Google Analytics libraries don’t get to use them. Below are a few selected highlights:
- Plugins - These allow for more customization and allow developers to build libraries.
- Exception Tracking – Enables you to monitor errors and potential problems.
- Task Tracking – This advanced feature makes it easy to further customize the data collection process.
- Enhanced eCommerce – This one is so cool that it warrants its own section...
7. Enhanced eCommerce tracking and reporting. This new feature provides more data on your users’ purchasing behavior and allows you to optimize your purchasing funnel, marketing spend and important activities that drive sales. Some additional notes:
- With enhanced eCommerce you can directly associate advertisements with specific products to measure performance, in addition to tracking internal promotions.
- Refunds, promo-codes and discounts, which were not captured in Classic analytics, are now broken out. Using this information could help you determine the ROI tied to a specific promo code campaign.
Looking for more information? Check out these links below. If you have any questions on how to upgrade or want more information, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Official Universal Analytics Upgrade Guide
- Official Developer Universal Analytics Upgrade Guide
- Official Universal Analytics FAQs
- Universal Analytics will Drive Strategic Marketing
- Kissmetrics' Universal Analytics Overview
- The Benefits of Universal Analytics & How to Upgrade
- Universal Analytics Overview