Have you found yourself hovering over the ‘Upgrade’ feature in Google Analytics? Conversion and analytics manager Richard Chapman is here to explain why the best time to upgrade to Universal Analytics is right now.

Universal Analytics came out of beta at the start of April, and there are some pretty cool new features, as well as all the good stuff you are used to.

I’ve had lots of clients ask me whether it’s time to upgrade, and the short answer is a resounding ‘yes!’

As with any new piece of tech, people are bound to harbour reservations. But if you spend a few minutes looking through the benefits below, you may well feel ready to hit the upgrade button.

Start the clocks… now!

Benefits of the Universal Analytics Upgrade

  • COOL NEW FEATURE 1 – CROSS DEVICE TRACKING WITH USER ID
Source: Chris Hartman at Flickr

Source: Chris Hartman at Flickr

For me, the biggest benefit of Universal Analytics is the implementation of cross-device tracking for signed-in users. This finally closes the information gap between desktops, mobiles and other devices. It works by assigning a unique User ID to a website visitor when they’re signed in to their account. Any useful behavioural data is then tied to this User ID, so one user can be tracked across multiple sessions and multiple devices.

  •  COOL NEW FEATURE 2 – IMPROVED DATA COLLECTION
Source: Mack Male at Flickr

Source: Mack Male at Flickr

Universal Analytics comes with three new methods for data collection, and these are all easy to implement and customisable to suit your needs. These three methods are designed, respectively, for websites, mobiles and miscellaneous devices like games consoles. It’s also much easier to track data across domains.

  •  COOL NEW FEATURE 3 – MORE TOOLS AND ANALYSIS
Source: Daren at Flickr

Source: Daren at Flickr

There’s a whole heap on new analysis options with Google’s new Analytics platform. For example, you can create custom metrics and dimensions that are unique to your business. These allow you to answer questions like ‘whose content is engaging users?’, or even ‘do my customers prefer blue products?’. You can now also exclude search queries (such as brand terms) and referrals (such as those from a third-party shopping cart) from your account Admin page, without making changes to your tracking code.

These new features are just the beginning. Google will undoubtedly include many more exciting new tools and functions as technology develops, and these will only be available to Universal Analytics users. Google won’t be introducing any new features to classic Analytics.

Don’t Be Scared

The most common question from our clients on upgrading is ‘will I lose data?’.

No, you won’t.

Source: hobvias sudoneighm at Flickr

Source: hobvias sudoneighm at Flickr

All historic data is carried through during the upgrade process, and there are no gaps in tracking. Your current classic Analytics code will continue to send data to your properties – but you won’t get all the new, cool, shiny features until you swap your tracking code to the new Universal version.

We waited until now to upgrade because some classic GA features were not available in Universal. But now they are! Remarketing, audience reporting and full integration with Tag Manager are all now possible.

All Google Analytics properties will soon be automatically moved over to Universal Analytics. So why wait? The word from Google is:

“Properties that aren’t transferred will be auto-transferred to Universal Analytics in the future”

If all this sounds complicated or a bit overwhelming – don’t worry! – we are here to help to guide you through this process.

And whilst you’re upgrading, why not give your whole SEO strategy a makeover? Download our free eBook via the link below to learn 101 quick tips to boost your digital marketing.

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About the author:

RAR Nominated Finalist 2017 for Conversion Optimisation, Rich has more than seven years’ digital marketing experience. He has worked across a broad range of sectors with notable brands such as Halfords Autocentres, Scottish Power, Peugeot and Biffa. Rich specialises in Conversion Rate Optimisation & Analytics, and is Google Analytics (GAiQ) and IDM Digital Marketing certified.