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What Google’s Universal Analytics means for your data

Today, the average person connects to the internet in numerous ways, whether that be via smartphone, desktop or tablet device, and Google believes it has found a way to track this activity across multiple devices and channels.

Universal Analytics aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of user behaviourial data for businesses. Google’s existing analytics tool is the market leader but Universal Analytics takes it to another level, allowing businesses to pull together data from various sources, and work from a user-friendly interface to analyse exactly where online profitability lies, even if the customer transacts in-store or over the phone.

Robin Jowett, CEO of Lens10 is at the Google Analytics Summit in the US, witnessing firsthand Google’s launch of Universal Analytics. Google’s existing analytics tool is used by over 10 million websites worldwide to track visitor activity. As one of only five Australian certified partners for Google Analytics, Lens10 will be working with local businesses to gain early access to this new functionality from Google.

But what are the implications for Australian businesses using Google Analytics?

One of the biggest challenges for Australian businesses has been the ability to track customers and the profitably of offline and online channels together. Traditionally, the online channel sat as ancillary to the bricks and mortar store. However, Universal Analytics is making it possible to streamline all of the data under one umbrella, and is helping businesses move away from the traditional and overwhelmingly laborious Excel spreadsheet mode that requires more time, resource and management.

Today, Google Analytics reports website visits by device, and a user visiting via mobile, tablet and desktop can be counted as multiple visits. The move to tracking users across multiple devices, online and offline is important because customers are undertaking a more complex purchasing journey, consulting twice as many sources as they were a year ago.

Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study reports the number of sources used by customers for an everyday shopping occasion has almost doubled, from 5.2 to 10.4 sources. The same study shows the length of a customer’s purchase journey varies greatly by category; looking at a spontaneous category like restaurants, thoughtful behavioural patterns are evident with people taking between several hours and several days to make a purchase decision.

For Australian businesses, the majority who are already using Google Analytics, Universal Analytics flags a pathway to effectively report the commercial returns of their online investment, even if customers transact in-store or via a call centre.

Until now, Google Analytics has been unable to analyse return on investment across all digital channels but a new Cost Data Import tool has been created that allows for the import of cost data from any digital source, including paid search providers, display providers, affiliates, email, social and even organic traffic.

The new Universal Analytics reporting capabilities provide the commercial ability to go beyond traditional website visits and calculate the actual return on investment. The ability to import separate datasets allows for a comparison view of performance from Google and non-Google programs. This will be rolled out over the next month and aims to show the relationships between various marketing channels that drive conversions.

Integrating all channels is also extremely useful for companies that deal with lead generation. Take retail for example, where tracking can now happen from a number of transactional sources – online, in-store or over the phone to name a few, and provides a comprehensive ROI picture. The average consumer today will access the internet across multiple devices and the user journey across these various devices is becoming more complex, but Universal Analytics presents a simple solution to track this activity.

Universal Analytics means businesses can push aggregated information without passing on sensitive information like names, credit card details or any other personably identifiable information. Businesses are working in much tighter privacy conditions, yet the commercial benefits of being able to report easily and effectively, while showing the return on investment can be achieved whilst adhering to privacy guidelines.

Universal Analytics has great potential for its users, offering the ability to track multiple devices and multiple data sources in a streamlined environment with return on investment analysis at the forefront. For more information on taking full advantage of Universal Analytics, contact Lens10.

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Michelle McGrath

Michelle McGrath

Michelle McGrath is the Director of Lens10, a web analytics consultancy providing strategic advice and operational support for web analytics. Lens10 is a Google Analytics™ Certified Partner. Michelle is also the Marketing Director at Comparison, where she looks after search engine optimisation, online marketing, content optimisation and web analytics to help her clients compete in the fast growing Australian online market.

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