Google's New Universal Analytics - Is It Worth Making the Switch?

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Universal Analytics, the new version of Google Analytics, is now available to all new users. Anyone who creates a new web property in Google Analytics will now be able to choose between the ‘simplified configuration controls’ of Universal Analytics, or the tried-and-tested interface of the newly-renamed ‘Classic Analytics’. It’s not rolling out to existing accounts yet, but a migration guide is set to be released soon. So should digital marketing professionals make the switch? Well, new features like cross-device tracking are exciting, says ClickThrough’s director of analytics and conversion Bryn Firkins, but make sure you look before you leap…

Universal Analytics sounds exciting and I’m looking forward to delving into the data once it’s all in.

But, as with all new releases, it’s best to be cautious. Don’t jump in head-first without all the facts.

The main benefits of the new Universal Analytics are hard to define at present because the data’s not in yet, but it promises to include some of the most important analytics enhancements in recent times: cross-device tracking and the ability to sync offline and online data.

These two features alone could transform the way we use Google Analytics for syncing online and offline transactions and tracking customers from one device to another – the holy grail of recent times.

However, my general rule is, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”, so if your Analytics is showing you everything you need to know, then seriously consider if moving over is of any real benefit to your company right now.

90% of Google Analytics accounts I’ve ever looked at aren’t being utilised to their maximum potential anyway, so until you’ve exhausted what Google Analytics can do for you at the moment, or if you won’t need the new features anyway, then I’d be hold back until you know you need to make the change. There also seems to be no support for the remarketing tag at present, which could cause problems if you’re currently using it. There are a few other features you may currently be using which you’d lose too.

On the flip side, if you’re currently only using Analytics as a simple hit counter (remember those?) then I’d encourage you to use the new Universal Analytics as you’ve probably got nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

If you’re a big business like Argos or Thomson, with real world shops (remember those?), then Universal Analytics is a must and promises to help connect the dots where offline and online customers merge. Just be cautious when making the change and consult your developers and stakeholders to make sure you’ll still capture the data you really need, whilst making the most of the new enhancements at the same time.

Because Universal Analytics isn’t available to existing account holders at the moment, Google recommends creating a new web property in order to make use of the new features. Starting from scratch, in other words.

So it’s a big decision. Make sure you look before you leap.


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