Upgrading to Universal Analytics: Path to successful transition | Articles

Universal Analytics is the new Google Analytics. Since April 2nd , it is out of beta and upgrade has been made available to every Google Analytics account. In this article, we will try to answer some hot questions on the topic, and to provide some tips that will ensure the best possible transition.

Why should I upgrade now?

The upgrade to Universal Analytics (UA) is currently not mandatory but it is highly recommended for two main reasons. First of all, all newly developed features in Google Analytics (GA) will be developed for Universal Analytics making the current version soon obsolete. Secondly, the switch to the UA tracking will eventually be made mandatory. This could happen sometime in the coming months.

Are there any risks?

As explained, upgrading to UA represents a clear opportunity. However, one should not underestimate the potential risk of making changes that may affect your data collection. Therefore, good planning and processes are required to avoid any data shut-down when switching to new UA tags.

Establishing a good plan

1. Implement a Tag Management System

If you were looking for the right time to use a tag management system, with UA, it is really now or never. Indeed, with all custom implementations available, you really need the power of such tool to fully embrace the power of UA.

2. Define roles and responsibilities

Before even reaching implementation questions, it is very important to remind each party’s role and responsibility at the different stage of the implementation process, from your BI agency, web development team and marketing department.

3. Map all you current properties and related GA implementations

You should really be as thorough as possible and start listing all tags/elements on which GA data is collected, among those:

  • Pageviews and their eventual virtual counterpart
  • Ecommerce
  • Events
  • Custom Var

This is very important as tracking methods of how these elements are tracked change with UA. For instance, the _gaq.push(['_trackEvent',... event tracking method needs to be replaced by a ga('send', 'event',... method. Also, in UA ecommerce report has been totally revamped by a new enhanced ecommerce report where you can track your product more deeper and get much more insight on your users’ checkout behaviour. But of course, this goes with a more intensive implementation. Finally CustomVar have been replaced by custom metrics and dimensions that will help you get additional information about your users, clients and their behavior.

4. Foresee a test environment

When upgrading to UA, you should remember that your data are not processed the exact same they used to be with classic GA. this could cause a small difference in figures.  Also if you have a heavy implementation in place, checking that data are entering properly and seem well attributed is a must-do before transferring all your properties. Therefore using a test website is highly recommended. Furthermore, UA can be test in parallel with you current classic implementation without interference.

Universal analytics is a real opportunity for every online actor.  But you should first build a complete plan when you check all boxes mentioned above to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

écrit par Stéphane Juricic


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