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9 Things You Should Know About Universal Analytics

Google Analytics

Although Universal Analytics was out of beta in April of this year, many people are still unsure what the difference is between Universal Analytics and Classic Analytics.  The good news is that this new version does provide more information about visitor behavior on different devices and it also offers more tools for measuring site performance.  At some point, everyone has to upgrade to Universal Analytics since Google is not providing any additional features for the Classic version of analytics although they will support it for two years.  Here’s a few things to know about this new version.

New Tracking Code

First, let’s start with the basics.  Are you wondering whether your site is even using Universal Analytics?  Take a look at the source code of your website.  You can do this by right-clicking on your site and choosing “view page source”.  Do a search for “analytics.js”.  This is the Universal Analytics code.  The classic analytics code had “ga.js”.  If you’re still on the old code, keep reading anyway so you know what to look forward to when the upgrade to Universal Analytics is completed.

Referral Exclusions

Many site owners have seen self-referrals in their analytics reports which can be a pain to troubleshoot.  Now self-referrals or sub-domains can be added to the Referral Exclusion List which means they are no longer reported as referral traffic.

User ID

User ID is a more advanced feature because the web site owner will need to generate their own unique IDs and assign them to users.  However, when User ID is implemented, website owners can track the customer’s full path on the site along with Cross Device reporting and see who is doing what on their various devices.  In the past, multiple visits from the same user would register as a unique visitor when that person was on a different device or browser.  Website owners can now see relationships between interactions and devices for unique users.

Offline Data

With Universal Analytics, it’s now possible to upload offline data with Google’s measurement protocol , which lets business owners integrate data from their own CRM systems with their data in analytics.  With this information, marketers can make the connection between offline and online behavior.

Device Reporting

The Device Overlap report shows which devices people are using to access the website.  Looking at this data compared to something like bounce rate, can provide insight about the user experience by device.  The Device Path will show you the devices used before a conversion, which can also provide information on user experience if certain devices convert more frequently.

Session Timeout

The default of 30 minutes for a session doesn’t work for every site owner, but many people don’t know how to make code changes to adjust this time period.  With the session timeout feature in Universal Analytics, this can be adjusted without making code changes to the site.  A good use case would be if your site logs out a user after they are inactive for a certain period of time.  This time period could then be used to determine the session timeout.

Custom Dimensions and Metrics

There are already a number of ways to slice and dice your data in Google Analytics.  If you’re looking for even more ways to do this, you have custom dimensions and metrics which allow you to collect data that is specific to your business goals.

Event Tracking

Did your Event Tracking stop working since you made the change to Universal Analytics?  Here’s a helpful tip for you to begin troubleshooting if this has happened to you.  Look at your source code to find your events.  The old method will include onClick=”gaq.push code.  The new method will have onclick=”ga.  Don’t panic if you don’t understand code!   If you have Universal Analytics tracking code for the site, but are using the gaq.push code for Event Tracking (as seen in your source code), you can share this finding with your web developer.  Universal Analytics uses a different calling method for events so this will need to be changed.

Enhanced eCommerce

This offers more data on the purchasing behavior of visitors so you know where to adjust your marketing spend.   You can connect ads with specific products and track internal promotions.

Overall, it seems that Google’s goal with Universal Analytics is to provide a more holistic view of the overall visitor experience rather than just the visits.  Once marketers become familiar with the features offered by Universal Analytics, the insight it provides will be extremely valuable in determining where exactly marketing dollars should be spent.

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