The team at nModal was at the Google Analytics Partner summit in October 2012 when Google first announced Universal Analytics. We were floored. The implications of this change are simply enormous.
Actually measuring offline to online conversion? Tying the use of a loyalty card in store to purchases online? Tracking a visitor across multiple channels and devices to see how interactions across touchpoints influence conversions? Measuring everything from ad effectiveness to product usage, to sales, support and retention all in one place?
This is the kind of analytics that old-school marketers dreamed of and new-school marketers expect.
The biggest change is the ability to track more than just website traffic by integrating your own datasets with Google Analytics. This opens up a whole new range of possibilities as you can now capture data from more devices, including those anchored in physical locations, and easily connect that data in Google Analytics to analyze and report on it.
What’s The Catch?
All those millions of websites that have installed Google Analytics, based on the ga.js library, will have to migrate to the new Universal Analytics which uses a new library called analytics.js, offered via the new Measurement Protocol. Replacing the old tracker and upgrading to UA is not trivial – it will involve a lot of code, and until Google releases a migration guide, your data will be in two different profiles.
Trying to marry that data together into a single report is keeping many marketers and developers on the sidelines.
But not Analytics Canvas users.
If you want to integrate the two datasets, Analytics Canvas can be used to extract data from both GA and UA, combine them, and prepare integrated reports. I won’t go into the details about setting up the new Universal Analytics. KISSmetrics has already written an in-depth post and if you’re looking for some very clear instructions I recommend you check it out.
Once you’re setup, simply use Analytics Canvas to extract data from both profiles, choose a logical cut-off point for each and combine them into a database table. From there simply build your reports off of this new table to maintain your time horizon.
Integrating Your Own Data
What’s so exciting about UA is that this simple idea of connecting data from any source allows you to use Google’s free service to capture data, analyze results and make decisions on a whole array of topics that have nothing to do with sales and marketing.
As an example, Loves Data created a video discussing how you can use UA to tie caffeine to productivity which inspired us to create an experiment that analyzes the location of the fans in our office to the temperature in each room. We’re working on it now and will write a series of posts once it’s under way.
Ready to start your own experiments and take advantage of UA? It’s now in public beta so simply log-in to Google Analytics and create a new account or property and you’ll be on your way.