Commentary

Google's Universal Analytics Set To Transform Online Marketing

It has been a few months since Google announced Universal Analytics, which will provide marketers with greater visibility into people’s interactions with a Web site at multiple levels. Universal Analytics will transform how marketers interpret consumer behavior.

Universal Analytics will open doors for more in-depth analysis of brands' Web sites. It is a complete overhaul of Google Analytics. It requires marketers’ immediate attention in order to stay on top of the data revolution that is reshaping much of our economy and society.

The most exciting change brought about by Universal Analytics is the inclusion of more data. While a vast trove of data can be overwhelming to some, anyone who has worked with Google Analytics is aware of its shortcomings. Its lack of transparency has led some marketers to assume certain things about how consumers interact with their Web sites. Making assumptions with data is a recipe for disaster, whether you’re conducting a simple science experiment or analyzing a multichannel online marketing campaign.

Measuring interactions from different environments changes the very concept of “Web analytics” to “digital analytics.” With Universal Analytics, marketers are finally able to track user activity across multiple devices. This is important as consumers increasingly shift toward a mobile-first, multiple-device shopping experience. The focus is shifting from visits and visitors to sessions and users.

The consumer -- not page views -- now rules the ecommerce roost.

Universal Analytics gives marketers the ability to analyze consumer data in a far more rich and diverse manner. This will lead to better user experiences on brands’ Web sites, and in turn, stronger lead generation and customer acquisition.

Becoming more user-centric requires marketers to track the activity of a specific user across all of the devices he or she uses to research and purchase a brand’s products or services. This level of detailed tracking offers a more complete picture of customers’ buying cycles. In addition, better attribution modeling will be available to both premium and non-premium analytics accounts.

Rethinking 'traffic sources'

Another important feature of Universal Analytics is that “Traffic Sources” will be renamed “Acquisitions.” While that may seem like a meaningless issue of semantics, it implies an important shift in how brands measure the value of their customers. Using the term “acquisitions” as a site metric reflects the offline methods that may be used (i.e., POS or Call Center) that are playing an increasingly important role in a mobile-first society.

These changes are not automatic for Google Analytics users. To begin using Universal Analytics, you need to implement a new tracking code formatted as analytics.js rather than the ga.js code that has been used for much of the last decade. This new code is much shorter than the previous code. Shortening the code means a faster site load time for much of the Web as more than 17 million sites use Google Analytics.

Universal Analytics should have data-focused marketers jumping for joy over the ability to closely analyze a consumers’ journey on their Web site from start to finish. The feature offers the ability to upload much of a brand’s own data about the campaigns that brought the user to the site. This allows analytics professionals to make actionable recommendations to campaign managers about the ways a brand can more efficiently and profitably acquire customers.

Universal Analytics is currently in beta and only available to qualified applicants. While Google works out some of the kinks before a public launch, consider this: In an age when consumers have so much information and data at their fingertips, isn’t it time marketers have the same concerning how people experience their Web sites?

 

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