We’d like to think that Google always has the best interest in mind for users and marketers, however, sometimes keeping up with their algorithm changes and Analytics feature sets can be a challenge. Midway through 2014, Google Analytics has undergone several changes and updates since last year that marketers should be aware of – and take advantage of. Several of the stand-out variations are discussed below.
Universal Analytics – What is it? Is it time to switch?
Universal Analytics (UA) is the new version of Google Analytics. It allows you to measure customer interactions across platforms and devices. UA has been in the works since 2013 and is currently in phase 3 – out of public beta – and approaching phase 4. As a user of Google Analytics, are you required to switch to UA? No. Google says “Data collected from the deprecated features will be processed for a minimum of 2 years.” Should you switch? Yes. There’s really no reason not to. The implementation is fairly simple, and there are plenty of new features to utilize such as:
User ID: Associates multiple sessions with a unique ID – all activity is attributed to one user in Google Analytics reports
New and More Flexible Tracking Code: Allows data collection from any digital device, and provides more accurate cross domain tracking
Updated Measurement Protocol: Allows data sync from online and offline channels
Custom Dimensions and Metrics: Gives the ability for UA users to create their own dimensions and metrics in order to collect and analyze data that isn’t automatically tracked
Switching to UA is just a matter of updating the tracking code for your website, which can be made most efficient through the use of Google Tag Manager.
Google Tag Manager –
While Google Tag Manager (GTM) has been developed for a couple of years now, it is still sneaking onto the SEO and analytics scene. When implementing UA, utilizing GTM is a great way to better manage your tags, snippets of code added to each page, and alleviate the issue of having to ask developers to constantly rewrite code. GTM keeps track of tags on its web interface, and stores tag-firing rules that determine when and where to execute a tag. For instance, if a user downloads a file, visits a particular blog page, or makes a purchase, the appropriate tag will be executed and tracked in UA.
GTM also provides benefits such as:
Ability to integrate tags with third-party tools
Support of multiple users and permissions Improved version control
Reduced page load time
What all of this implies is that if you’re ready to take the leap and switch to UA, GTM is an effective and efficient way to manage this change. You can add or update tags easily on the interface, and with just a few clicks using GTM you can also include conversion tracking, remarketing, ecommerce, and more.
Enhanced Ecommerce –
With remarketing and online retail constantly on the rise, Ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics has also improved. Enhanced Ecommerce is built to align with and heighten your UA experience. In short, Enhanced Ecommerce will provide more details on everything analysts need to get deeper insight on their customers. This includes a more thorough outline of what actions customers are taking before purchasing. With this, even if a customer does not end up purchasing, you may be able to evaluate why customers are bouncing at a certain point – perhaps the price is too high, the variety is not sufficient, etc. By extending the amount of meta data on your products you can see performance based on groups, brands, and categories. Try A/B testing with different methods of listing your products and gain insights on what customers prefer and why.
All of these updates may seem overwhelming; however, with correct implementation and use of all of these recommended changes, your website tracking process is guaranteed to become more efficient, more accurate, and (quite literally) more universal.