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Google's new Analytics: a boon for online marketers.

by  David Dwyer on  01/01/2015    1266 Reads

What does Universal Analytics (UA) mean for your site & business?

Google is radically improving the way it tracks visitors to your site. Traditionally Google Analytics has been able to tell you how many hits your site had had, the number of unique visitors, where they were in the world and a lot more. It's a useful tool and was state-of-the-art in its day.  But all good things can be improved, and Google Analytics is no exception.

The new version, Universal Analytics (UA), has all the features of what Google now call Classic Analytics, plus major enhancements that will make the internet marketer's job much easier. For one thing, it gives you the information in your own time-zone, instead of using Pacific Standard Time as previously, so your data are bang up to date.

But the biggest benefit is that UA allows you to set up unique User IDs so that an individual can be tracked across different sessions, even when they switch from one device to another. That means your user data are more accurate, since each user is counted only once regardless of the number of devices they use or the number of times they access your site.

It also means you'll know whether they found your product or service via their mobile, phablet, tablet, google glass or desktop, or even used two or more devices for the same transaction. You get a breakdown of figures for each device and for all possible combinations thereof, so you'll be able to tailor your pages for different devices to suit your site traffic.

A User IDs also allows you to track an individual throughout their relationship with your business, since it recognises them from when they first access your site, through when they buy something, to when they use your customer services page or to whatever other transactions they have with you.

Universal Analytics uses three different tracking codes, one for websites, another for mobile apps, and  third for digital devices such as game consoles and information kiosks. Each one can be customised, making cross-device tracking much more accurate, and they're very straightforward to set up.

As well as using standard metrics such as organic search sources, session and campaign timeouts, referral exclusions and search term exclusions, you can now also customise your metrics to allow you to collect data that's specifically relevant to your business.

If you sell products online, UA's Enhanced Ecommerce reports are another cool tool. They allow you to analyse your visitors' buying behaviour and see which products are selling well (or not). That means you'll know exactly which of your marketing messages are working and which need tweaking. We applied this for our Lakeshore Naturals client in San Francisco and have applied now for many others through our Developer SOS service.

In future, only Universal Analytics users will benefit from new features and product updates, and all accounts will have to change to UA soon. Currently you can opt in; upgrading is a simple two-step process. In the next phase Google will auto-transfer users on a range of different platforms; finally Universal Analytics will become the operating standard, with Classic Analytics being completely phased out.


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