Google launched Google Analytics in 2005 and it’s been an unmatched success in mining web statistics. The service has evolved gradually over the years, but the need for a more up to date service – in step with current technology – has been pressing. To keep at the top of their field and offer their customers more, Google has been busy working on Universal Analytics.
What is Universal Analytics?
Universal Analytics features three new tracking codes (one each for websites, mobile apps and other digital devices) to deal with the contemporary scenarios presented by emerging technologies e.g. multi-screen and multi-device outlets present more complex data which Google Analytics isn’t capable of analyzing. The main drive of Universal Analytics is that it allows website owners to understand more about their visitors rather than just their visitors’ browsing sessions. October 2012 saw the release of a private beta version for select customers to test and the full public launch of the beta came in March 2013. Once satisfied with the testing, Google launched the full product on April 2nd 2014.
Universal Analytics contains the following features which are not present in Google Analytics: customized dimensions and metrics, online/offline data sync, multi-platform tracking, simplified configuration controls and access to new feature releases for Universal Analytics. These new features provide a more in-depth analysis of visitor behavior, allow you to track traffic across multiple devices and focus your attentions on customer’s needs more efficiently.
Missing until now
Not all the Universal Analytics features were available in beta:
- Remarketing lists was one feature which was sorely missed as they allow tailored ad campaigns to target interests shown by visitors on previous visits e.g. a user who placed a product in their shopping cart may not have ended up purchasing it, so a wise idea would be to target them with a coupon for free shipping – this can be served to the consumer by an ad on the Google Display Network.
- Cross device tracking which allocates users an individual ID to allow tracking of their journey across multiple devices was also missing.
- Audience reporting features such as indicators of age, gender, location and affinity categories also didn’t make the beta.
As of April 2nd 2014, all these features are now present.
Remarketing lists are highly efficient in tracking down lost revenue and finalizing conversions, so we’ll take a quick look at how you can implement these with Universal Analytics.
The first thing to do is to update your tracking code to activate display advertising. This quick edit simplifies the remarketing process and allows you to build a wide range of remarketing lists without the need for further, laborious coding.
Remarketing lists can be created in a simple to use interface via one of four predefined segments or a custom segment set by you to identify potential candidates:
- Google can use Smart Lists to analyze conversion data to identify a segment of users
- A segment which covers all visitors to your site
- Users who have satisfied particular conversion goals e.g. placing an item in their shopping cart can make up another segment.
- A segment of visitors who accessed specific areas of your site
- Custom pre-defined segment e.g. visitors from a certain city, users of a certain browser etc.
When these segments have been identified, the user that comprise the segment can then be targeted with bespoke remarketing ads to improve conversion rates. Remarketing lists can be aligned with specific AdWords accounts and the list is updated with suitable candidates when they access your site. Remarketing lists created in Universal Analytics operate exactly the same as remarketing lists created in AdWords, but can reach a broader audience.
The Google Display Network doesn’t just serve the resulting ads up by magic though. They need to be activated by the presence of at least 100 unique cookies. A unique cookie is added to the remarketing list each time a user – who matches one of your pre-defined segments – visits your site. Therefore, it’s essential to get suitable candidates to your site asap and tailor remarketing lists to start the remarketing process.
Universal Analytics is now live, with all its promised features, and this means that migration from Google Analytics is likely to pick up. Universal Analytics offers tempting new streams of information and data relating to website visitors. Using this knowledge gives website owners a greater understanding of their customer base which can be seamlessly built into remarketing lists, so if you’re looking to up your conversion rates, head to Universal Analytics.