A Quick Refresher
Google analytics (GA) can be a fantastic and free way to collect data about your customers. With good data collection and smart reporting, you can gain valuable insights into the way your customers come to your site, perform certain desired actions (e.g. buy your product), and also how they leave your site.
While it can be fun to get lost in all the neat reporting capabilities of GA, it is important to ensure your GA account is built on a strong foundation of best-practice data collection.
GA works by placing code into the back-end of your website and it is this code that enables you to collect the data you need to make reports. Unfortunately, if your website has been around for a while, your code may be outdated. This is because Google has upgraded the way the code collects data to provide you with better information!
Classic or Universal?
At the moment there are two form of analytics operating; Classic Analytics and Universal Analytics. Classic Analytics is the older, but still functional, version of GA, and Universal Analytics is the more recent, greatly improved upgrade.
Checking which version of analytics you have is a simple as logging into your google analytics account, clicking on the admin button and locating the tracking info section.If you’re running on Classic Analytics you’ll see the code shown like this:
If you’re running universal analytics the code will look like figure 2.
Why Switch To Universal Analytics?
There are lots of great reasons to make the switch over to Universal Analytics. At the top of the list is Universal Analytic’s ability to track users across multiple devices and browsers, something that wasn’t available with the old Classic Analytic. This is somewhat of a game changer as it finally allows businesses to drill down into the behaviours of individual’s on their websites, apps and other digital devices.
Of course this is only the beginning of the new capabilities you’ll find with Universal Analytics, others include:
1) New code can allow tracking even when cookies are disabled
2) Offline data imports from other devices and applications like POS data, are available (Very powerful for gaining a more holistic view of customer behaviour)
3) An increase from 5 to 20 custom variables (200 for premium) that can be used to collect data that Universal Analytics doesn’t track by default.
4) Greatly improved ability to track users across different domains and subdomains.
There’s also the unfortunate fact that Classic Analytics library will become deprecated in the near future, at which time you’ll have to begin migrating over to Universal Analytics anyway!
A Word On Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a revolutionary platform that allows non-IT staff to implement powerful tracking configurations without the need for complex coding know-how. In essence, GTM removes the need to “hard-code” directly into the back-end of the website. Instead, tracking is configured within GTM for a variety of different tracking tags, including:
- Google Analytics
- Google Adwords
- Google Consumer Surveys
- Google Trusted Stores
In fact, a Universal Analytics upgrade can be implemented within Google Tag Manager!
Dangers of Migration
For less complex sites the switch from Classic Analytics to Universal Analytics can possibly be done in house. However, for larger sites with lots of content and/or ecommerce, migration may not be so straight forward. If done incorrectly, you can potentially ruin your GA reports by accidentally doubling your data, or by missing certain bits of data all together.
The same challenges can occur when you are migrating from an old website to a new one. Transitioning your GA account without losing any data from your old site requires some understanding in how the GA back-end code operates. Migrating sites can be even more complex if you also want to upgrade your GA to the new code at the same time.
Harlen O’Keeffe is Google Analytics IQ certified, so we have the know-how to help you overcome any of these challenges.
We specialise in:
- GA upgrade to Universal Analytics (including upgrade of tracking code for goals/product-sales/events etc.
- GA account migration to new website.
- GA custom reporting set-up.
- Google Tag Manger implementation.
- Advanced GA tracking.
Get in touch today to arrange an initial consultation with one of our analytics experts!
Author: Joshua Harlen