Google Universal Analytics: The Guide to Understanding Your Users

by Paula Lay on November 11, 2013

in Analytics

Google Universal Analytics

Every website will soon need to update their classic Google Analytics to Google’s Universal Analytics. The new tracking properties, which were released as a trial in October 2012, are now available to all accounts and is set to improve the way website managers track and analyse user metrics.

What is Universal Analytics?

Universal Analytics is an updated version of the classical Google Analytics that was designed to help businesses collect a better understanding from users. The change was inevitable, seeing as users today are increasingly visiting websites from places other than their desktops – from mobile phone browsers and apps to tablet devices.

Through the Management Protocol API, Universal Analytics will help businesses improve how they measure their ROI, design better websites for their users, measure cross-channel information and customise tracking based on their own unique goal funnels.

Benefits of Upgrading

The biggest benefit website managers will receive from upgrading their analytics account is the ability to customise your tracking to pull data from any digital device, including:

  • Android and iOS devices
  • Gaming consoles
  • Information kiosks

In addition, users of Universal Analytics will be able to:

  • Manage and prioritise list of organic search engines – this is beneficial for users who may want to amalgamate or give higher preference to search engine properties that share the same domain (e.g. google.com.au or google.com.au/imghp).
  • Customise lengths of sessions and campaigns – By default, a visitor session lasts 30 minutes and campaigns last for six months. If you have conducted your own research into the actual time a user spends on your website, you can adjust the properties accordingly to get more accurate reporting data.
  • Manage referral data – beneficial particularly to e-commerce stores that use third party shopping carts where your user will momentarily leave your site and return after a purchase has been made. Website managers can choose to manually stop specific external domains from being counted as referral traffic and prevent returning users triggering a new session.
  • Customise the nature of search terms – only available in Universal Analytics, this feature will improve the way businesses analyse their online brand. Website managers can provide a list of search terms in Analytics in order to change their source from ‘search engine’ to ‘direct traffic’ – useful for website who currently use Analytics to remove branded keywords (e.g. ewebmarketing | e-web | eweb | ewebmarketing.com.au)
  • Create custom dimensions and metrics  - Observe the relationship between dimensions (e.g.: city) and their metrics (e.g.: population), that are important to your unique business goals.

Using Universal Analytics for Your Business

Universal Analytics will help businesses translate their data into information more efficiently in order to make smarter business decisions. Watch the interview with Rojeh Avanesian, VP of Marketing at PriceGrabber.com, to see how he will be using Universal Analytics for his business:

When should I upgrade?

Universal Analytics will be required for all Google Analytics properties – whether self-transitioned or automatically implemented by Google in the near future. While there are many benefits to upgrading, there are still a few issues that need to be addressed before that move is made.

According to the Google’s upgrade timeline, there will be four phases to help users transition to the new Universal Analytics. Currently, the timeline is still in Phase 1 – where all counts can readily switch over to Universal Analytics.

All users are recommended to switch to the new Universal Analytics now, EXCEPT:

  • Users with properties prefixed with YT/MO (will be supported in phase 2)
  • Users running remarketing campaigns  (will be supported in phase 3)
  • Users who require Google Display Network impression reporting   (will be supported in phase 3)
  • Users who require DoubleClick campaign manager reporting  (will be supported in phase 3)
  • Users who require Google Analytics demographics and interest reports  (will be supported in phase 3)

What will happen to my old data?

Nothing! When you upgrade to Universal Analytics, all the data from your classic account, as well as any account settings, will remain.

Additional Resources

To get started with your upgrade, visit the official set up page for Google Universal Analytics.

You may also be interested in reading:

  • Google Universal Analytics – Frequently asked questions (read more)
  • Universal Analytics Upgrade Center – Upgrade Guide (read more)
  • An Easy Way to Upgrade to Universal Analytics (read more)

If you are customising your tracking to find out more about your users, or you would like more information on how to, drop a comment below to share your thoughts.

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