Why You Should Upgrade to Google Universal Analytics

universal analytics

Let’s get this question out of the way now. Should you upgrade to Google’s new Universal Analytics? Yes. In fact, you have most likely already been upgraded to Universal Analytics. But, just because Google updated your account for you, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything else or that you are getting the most out of your new Universal Analytics account.


Right now, Google Universal Analytics is in the third phase of its rollout. It is out of beta and most accounts are automatically being upgraded. In fact, you can’t even choose the old version of the analytics when setting up a new account anymore. When Universal Analytics first got out of beta, it was still missing an important feature for many companies. That was display advertising features that allow you to create retargeting lists. Now, display features are fully integrated into Universal Analytics (UA), meaning there is nothing holding back a new account from going with UA. However, this doesn’t mean that just because your account is upgraded that there still aren’t things to watch out for when upgrading.

Things To Watch Out For

Right now, if the code on your site uses ga.js, urchin.js, or the WAP versions of the code, you will need to update the code when Google reaches phase four of the Universal Analytics upgrade. Within two years of launching phase four, those versions of the code will be deprecated. And, it isn’t just the script that will be deprecated. If you currently have custom variables or user defined variables that you are using to track data, you will have to turn them into custom dimensions to still be able to use them, as they will be deprecated as well.

This would also mean that in the future, if you are using the old way of doing event tracking, it will also have to be updated to the new version of the event tracking code. So, if your code isn’t updated yet, why go through all the trouble now instead of waiting two years?

Why Finish Upgrading?

analytics-property-settingsGoogle’s reason for upgrading wasn’t just for them to waste your time. They released some features that, if you take the time to implement them, will enable you to measure things you never knew could before. The new platform will allow you to:

  • Collect Data From Anything
  • Create Custom Dimensions and Custom Metrics
  • Establish User IDs
  • Utilize Enhanced Ecommerce

Collect Data From Anything

Google now has three ways to collect data: analytics.js for websites, mobile SDK’s for iOS and Android, and – to me the most exciting – the measurement protocol for digital devices. So now you can track your websites, your apps, and your coffee machine if you wanted to, inside Google Analytics. People are already putting the measurement protocol to work so they can count in-store foot traffic, monitor temperatures, and more. The possibilities are really endless, especially because of the next new feature.

Custom Dimensions and Custom Metrics

Custom dimensions and custom metrics are really the souped up version of the old custom variables. To give you an idea of how powerful these new dimensions can be, let’s say when a person signs up for your service that happens to be a Yelp-like service, you ask them a series of questions. You might ask them a question that has a custom dimension that you call favorite restaurant type. The answers to these questions might be Mexican food, sandwich shops, etc. You then might ask a follow-up question of how many times a month they eat out. This gives you a new custom metric of amount eat out per month or AEOM. So, now you can look at your data to segment out different users to see how they use your site. For example, you could segment people who like sandwich shops that eat out 5 times a week. This could help you know how to better target content on your site. The possibilities are endless, especially when adding this to your mobile apps. If you added this tracking to your mobile game, you could find out all sorts of ways customers are playing the game.

User IDs

Since more customers are using mobile apps and customers are switching between phones, tablets, and other devices, you could never really know how many unique and active users you had per month with traditional analytics. Now by creating a custom ID that you assign to your users, you can track a user who uses their phone, tablet, and laptop to access your site as one user. This gives you more insight than ever into how your customers are using your service. It means no more double or triple counting users. Your data just got way cleaner.

Enhanced Ecommerce

With enhanced ecommerce reports, don’t just find out what users purchased on your site and how much revenue that brought in. Find out how they ended up purchasing. You will get reports such as what customers are adding to their carts and what they are removing from their carts. You will even know when they initiate checkout and when they are receiving refunds. If ecommerce is important to your site, look deeper into this here as there is so much more to look at.

Here’s a video of how PriceGrabber is utilizing Google Universal Analytics:

What are you waiting for? Take advantage of the new data you have access to so you can give your customers an even better experience across devices.

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