Published: 08 May 2014
At the end of 2013, Google Analytics announced the launch of Universal Analytics and earlier this month, Google took Universal Analytics out of BETA. Google Universal Analytics is an updated tracking script, allowing for more detailed and "universal" analysis of your website, taking into account activity offline and online to gather a greater understanding of your customers and website users.
So what are the benefits of Universal Analytics?
Tracking Offline Conversions
If you have a physical shop as well as an online portal then the new Measurement Protocol with Universal Analytics allows you to link your offline and online activity and allows us to send data from pretty much any device and track it in Universal Analytics.
This means we can now link things like offline loyalty cards with online behaviour and the other way around, so linking an online brochure download with an offline purchase.
Set Up Custom Search Engines
At the moment Google Analytics already recognises the most popular search engines, which you can view in your traffic reports. If, however, you have traffic coming from search engines that Google will not see as the most popular then this will simply be logged as Referral Traffic, providing false data.
You can now alter the list of recognised search engines and therefore control how the data is displayed in your reports, providing more accurate data on important channels. An example might be if you have traffic from a directory such as Yell.com and in your companies point of view, this is a search engine, you can create a custom search engine for this to be listed in your reports.
Custom Dimensions For Reports
Another significant change is the ability to set multiple custom dimensions in reports. To explain, if you think of a dimension as anything to which we can assign a number to, we can use certain behaviours to trigger these custom dimensions and then we can create reports around these.
An example may be that you want to track how behaviour from users that are logged in, differs from those who aren’t. By sending this as a custom dimension in Universal Analytics, you can create custom reports to compare the two sets of data.
Another example might be if you had a number of blog writers and you wanted to see which writer got users most engaged, you could set up custom dimensions for each blog author to compare engagement.
Advanced Segments for Visitors
One particularly useful update is Universal Analytics change to a visitor focused approach rather than visit based. This means that you can focus on the actual visitor themselves rather than a website visit, allowing for conversions to be attributed to a visitor. In the Advance Segments section you can see a range of options, including filtering by user.
Session and Campaign Timeout Settings
You can now alter the session and campaign timeout settings so that rather than having the default session end settings of 30 minutes and campaign timeout of 6 months you can set it according to your own requirements.
So if your own site automatically signs people out after a period of inactivity you can alter the session settings to match this and get more accurate data. If you have a campaign that runs all year then you can also reflect this in the campaign timeout settings.
There are a number of additional benefits, which we are still learning about but needless to say this is a step in the right direction to getting full data, allowing businesses to have more information across multiple touch points. This will certainly provide a new opportunity for data driven marketing in the future.