To keep our Google Analytics current, we all have to upgrade to the new Universal Analytics. Not upgrading will leave us behind as no new features are being added the old version.
We should all want to upgrade because as so many on the have pointed out Universal Analytics is just a better product. From my experience there are two approaches to the upgrade and which one you choose depends how heavily you are invested.
Two Universal Analytics Upgrade Approaches
My experience upgrading customers to Universal Analytics have been all pretty smooth. There are two types of clients that approach me for assistance on their upgrades. Those that are:
- Lightly invested in Google Analytics – these customers have not set up or configured their Google Analytics. Historically they have been passively observing their page views and traffic statistics like a spectator at a sporting event. That attitude is changing and they want to become more involved with their data and wants help getting started.
- Heavily invested in Google Analytics before the upgrade – they have custom code, goals, and rely on their Google Analytics to make business decisions.
Each group needs a different approach to their Universal Analytics upgrade:
Cold Turkey Upgrade to Universal Analytics
This is for the “Lightly invested” in Google Analytics. The Cold Turkey approach just replaces the code and just like that you’re on the full Universal Analytics platform. It’s complete in just a few hours.
These customers generally do not know very much about what is in their Google Analytics so any changes in data presentation will go largely unnoticed. They want to get the upgrade done, and then turn over a new leaf and bring data into their decision making.
Here’s a guide that will make it easy to upgrade your Google Analytics using the “Cold Turkey” approach.
Parallel Property Upgrade to Universal Analytics
This approach is for those heavily invested in their Google Analytics. The Parallel Property approach is the exact opposite of the Cold Turkey. It’s a project that needs to be managed over a few months so there can be careful evaluation of what is changing in the data so they can adjust to the “new normal”.
What is the “New Normal”?
Moving to Universal Analytics is a permanent change, there is no turning back. Things will be different under Universal Analytics because it collects data differently than the old Google Analytics and your organization may need time to understand and adjust to the new realities.
Initially the differences between the old versions and Universal Analytics may be <10%, but over a few months you will see everything even out.
How do to the Parallel property approach
- The first step is to create a new property within your Google Analytics account. Call this property “Universal Analytics Test”. Google will automatically assign the property a Universal Analytics tracking code that will have to be inserted onto every page of your website right before or right after the Classic Google Analytics tracking code.
- Configure the new property with the same goals, filters and settings as your Classic Google Analytics property. Comparison of the old and the new will be easier when both properties have identical configurations.
- If you have custom code for tracking PDFs, videos, outbound links, or any other on page asset, seriously consider installing Google Tag Manager. Tag Manger will save you having to create new custom Universal Analytics tracking codes for each of those assets.
- Let a month or pass by so traffic can accumulate in the Universal Analytics property. When there is sufficient data, compare the two and investigate differences as you see fit.
- Once you are satisfied with the Universal Analytics property’s performance, it’s time to say good bye to your Classic Google Analytics.
- Make sure the Classic Property has been transferred to the Universal Analytics platform. Your goals, filters and settings will remain intact.
- Insert the Universal Analytics tracking (from the Classic property) across your website
- Remove both the Universal Analytics test property code and the Classic Google Analytics code from your website.
- Remove any custom code associated with Classic Google Analytics – ecommerce, remarketing, etc. and replace with Universal Analytics versions of those tags.
An extra word about Universal Analytics Enhance Ecommerce Tracking Code
Universal Analytics has two versions of e-commerce. One that offers the same functionality as the Classic version; this code can be place on your e-commerce pages alongside your existing e-commerce code. There is also an Enhanced version of e-commerce for Universal Analytics only. The enhanced version tracks a lot more about customers’ pre purchase journey such as promotions. Be careful not to install the Enhanced version of e-commerce tracking alongside the Classic or even the standard Universal Analytics e-commerce tracking. The Enhance e-commerce tracking code does not play well with others.
If you have invested heavily in your Classic Google Analytics with goals, custom tracking, filters take the slow and steady approach over to Universal Analytics, create a parallel property.
If you have minimal investment and have been using the default settings in Classic Google Analytics and not regularly using it for decisions take the fast route to Universal Analytics – go Cold Turkey, but take the time to set-up your Universal Analytics with goals, filters and settings.