Now before you go rushing off to send your job application to MI6, let me bring you back down to earth. Universal Analytics doesn’t give you a license to kill or an arsenal of spy tools, but if you use it to its full potential, you just might get a few steps closer to that Aston Martin you’ve had your eye on.
What’s New in Universal Analytics?
The introduction of Google’s Universal Analytics, currently in beta mode, aims to change the way data is collected and organised in your analytics account. This initiative provides site owners with the ability to track visitors across multiple platforms, and provides a greater level of insight into how consumers engage with your brand, with more metrics than you can poke a dagger shoe at (Russia with love..anyone..).
The standard version of Google Analytics we’ve all grown to love is based on a product called Urchin which was created in 1998 and purchased by Google in 2005. There has been many updates along the way but ultimately, its key function is to track visits to a site.
Measure People Not Pageviews
Universal Analytics goes well beyond simply tracking visits, moving towards a more holistic approach to tracking data. To understand this, let’s take a look at an example of the possible buying decision process of today’s consumer:
Sally sees an ad for flights to Bali while waiting at the bus stop. She scans the QR code, downloads the app, and reads about the flights on her way to work. At lunchtime, Sally looks up the flights on her desktop. Once she gets home, she decides she is going to book the flights and whips out her tablet to complete the purchase.
Previously Google Analytics would have given Sally a Client ID each time she visits. The problem with this is Sally is going to be counted as 3 unique visitors in the reports, rather than one visitor who used multiple screens. You can start to see that this method doesn’t exactly paint an accurate portrait of consumer engagement.
The Introduction of User ID
Universal Analytics provides a way to counteract this with the introduction of User ID. As you can probably guess, UID follows consumers across platforms. So when Sally logs into the app on her phone, the UID is sent to Google analytics. When she accesses the app again on her tablet, the same thing happens, allowing for a more accurate representation of visitors in your reports. This also helps with conversion optimisation as it allows for greater insight into path analysis and other interface alterations.
The end game is making the consumer the key element in the data. The User ID feature of Universal Analytics can stitch together data across multiple platforms from POS to your mobile website, giving tremendous insight into consumer behaviour. With the introduction of Google’s Measurement protocol, you’re not limited to online sources either.
Out of all the features on Universal Analytics, this one is a game changer. The Measurement protocol allows you to send data from anywhere and collate it in Universal Analytics. This opens up unlimited possibilities to how you can track brand engagement.
Whether you want to gauge foot traffic, or measure cash register transactions, with a bit of programming and some innovation, it’s possible to have this data appear alongside your online sales reports. It doesn’t stop there either. Combining this with a loyalty card system tied to a User ID would provide a 360 degree view of your customers purchase habits, both online and off, pretty amazing stuff! This article about measuring offline store activity gives a great guide on how to set it up.
With all this new information available to you, it’s important to use it wisely by creating a more engaging and enjoyable user experience for your site visitors. Universal Analytics can provide you with insights into how to better engage with your followers, and what steps need to be taken to stay relevant in the ever changing multiscreen climate that is the world of online business.
Any thoughts or questions about the new features, feel free to leave a comment below. If you found this article interesting, give the author (me!) a tip in the form of a share on your favourite social channel.
Thanks for reading.