30 Sep

The Safe Way to Upgrade to Universal Analytics

Don't miss the Universal Analytics Train

Don’t miss the Universal Analytics Train

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:

  1. 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.
  2.  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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Once you are satisfied with the Universal Analytics property’s performance, it’s time to say good bye to your Classic Google Analytics.
  6. Make sure the Classic Property has been transferred to the Universal Analytics platform. Your goals, filters and settings will remain intact.
  7. Insert the Universal Analytics tracking (from the Classic property) across your website
  8. Remove both the Universal Analytics test property code and the Classic Google Analytics code from your website.
  9. 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.

27 Sep

Small Business guide to upgrading to Universal Analytics

It's time to move from Classic to Universal Analytics

Upgrade to Google Universal Analytics

If you have been using Google Analytics since before April 2014, you need this article.

In April 2014, Google introduced a completely new version of Google Analytics: Universal Analytics. It’s a much better product with some valuable new features that make it easier to do things like:

  • follow your customers’ journeys with cross-device tracking
  • see traffic from Canadian search engines
  • see the contributions PDF files, videos, and other calls-to-action are making to your goals
  • track ecommerce activities

Phasing Out the Old Product

Google announced that “Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics. All accounts will soon be required to use Universal Analytics.” Google.

“The New Operating Standard”?

That’s code for “we won’t be adding any new features to Classic Google Analytics.” Upgrade now or you’ll get left behind at the next feature release, which could be anytime. Google has promised your old (Classic) Google Analytics will remain compatible with the new Universal Analytics until March 2016. But why wait? Things aren’t going to get any better. And you’re missing out on some great new capabilities.

How to make the move to Universal Analytics

It’s been my experience that customers take one of two approaches to their upgrade. One is a quick move, or cold Turkey where the upgrade is pretty quick.  The other is more of a project.  Here’s an article on how to determine which approach is best for you.

Google describes the upgrade as a simple two step process: (1) Transfer the property and (2) Insert the new tracking code. You won’t benefit from Universal Analytics’ additional functionality until you complete both steps.

Step 1 Transfer your Property

To transfer your property (website data), you need to move all of your existing Google Analytics data from the Classic Google Analytics platform to the Universal Analytics platform. Don’t worry about this transfer; your existing data is safe and compatible with Universal Analytics.

Google has already transferred many of my customers’ data automatically, often unbeknownst to them. In a few cases we were ahead of Google and initiated the transfer ourselves.

How do I know if my site data has been transferred?

To find out if your website property has been transferred to Universal Analytics go to the Administration section right at the top of the Property column. You’ll see one of these two (self-explanatory messages):


This message will appear at the top of your Google Analytics property setting if your property has been transferred to Google Universal Analytics

Figure 1:This message will appear at the top of your Google Analytics property setting if your property has been transferred to Google Universal Analytics


Message you will get if your property has not been transferred to Universal Analytics

Figure 2: Message you will get if your property has not been transferred to Universal Analytics


If the message in Figure 1 looks like yours “Transfer complete”, Google has already transferred your data and you are ready for Step 2 (Insert the New Tacking Code).

If you see the message “Transfer not started”, you can either start the transfer manually (once you hit that button, there’s no turning back) or wait for Google to do it for you.

Step 2 – Your Action Item:  Insert the New Tracking Code

For this step you actually have to go into your website’s HTML code and insert your new Universal Analytics tracking code – the big yellow area shown below:

Google Universal Analytics Tracking Code.

Figure 3:  Universal Analytics Tracking Code.

You need to swap out the old code with the new code on every page you want tracked. For WordPress sites, just swap the codes from the Header.php file (a UA plug-in). For SharePoint sites, it’s in your Master file.

Technical warning: If you don’t understand that last sentence (Header php file, Master file, etc.), get a professional to insert the code for you.

Upgrade Complete

Once you’ve inserted the new Universal Analytics tracking code in your web pages, your upgrade is complete. You’re ready to take advantage of the new Universal Analytics features.

The Perfect Time to Make Google Analytics Really Useful — SET IT UP

Instead of passively looking at your page views and the traffic statistics available with Google’s default settings, take action. By configuring some goals, filters and settings you’ll actually be able to make decisions about which traffic sources trigger the most conversions, and which pages are most valuable (not popular) to your website visitors.

Spend a few minutes creating some goals, settings, and filters. You’ll be glad you did.


Time To Upgrade Image:  Thank you to www.koozi.com.

29 Aug

10 Google Analytics Settings to Look For in a WordPress Plug-in

WordPress Plugin IconThe default settings in Google Analytics do not provide data you can really take action with.  After all what actions can you realistically take with page view and traffic source statistics?  Google Analytics is software, and like most software to be valuable it must be configured. Thankfully for WordPress users there are a wide variety of plug-ins available to help you configure a few of Google Analytics’ settings.  Here are a few of my favorite settings”:

Site Search (a personal favorite)

Read More

18 Aug

Google Analytics – Training You Will Use

Training Certificate

Google Aanlytics Training certificate

e-Nor has announced it’s 2015 Google Analytics training schedule.  When it comes to picking Google Analytics training we have a lot of choices from online to instructor lead.  Here is my review of an Instructor lead training I took in October 2013.

I know this training is good because I have applied what I learned.  But most importantly I have the confidence to work well beyond Google Analytics default settings and make real decisions with the data.

What makes this training so good?

Lots of training offers to coach and help you after the course is over, but such promises are often empty because of last minute cancellations, unreturned emails, and the general run around trying to get help.

That’s not the case here with Instructor Eric Fettman, who manages the Blog Google Analytics Tip of the Day and e-Nor the Silicon Valley marketing consulting firm who manages the course.

Post Training Follow-up and Consultations are for Real

It’s been almost a full year since I took the training and I have had at nine one-on-on follow-up Skype sessions with the instructor Eric Fettman.  Development planning and coaching is one of the course features – but these guys mean it.  They follow through and really help you apply what you learned.

Training With a Bias to Action on Data

The core philosophy of this course was: marketing data is useless without action.  So in addition to showing demonstrating how to find data, there is a lot of discussion about how to use the information for active website management.  These discussions had the most impact on me:

Google Analytics Implementation

One of the best outcomes of this training for me is confidence with the GA installation and set-up of accounts, properties and views.  Even better, I now have the knowledge to speak intelligently to website developers about how to implement correct GA code and what information will be tracked.

Measuring Against Goals

This training emphasizes the proper use of goals in Google Analytics including how to set them and then develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure performance in achieving each goal.  For example, by monetizing all of your goals it is much easier to identify each webpage’s contribution to a goal.  Even non-monetary goals like generating a sales lead can be applied this principal.  Just put a $1.00 value on the goal and GA will report how each pages contributes its achievement.

How to Make Things Happen Because of the Data

Google Analytics produces a lot of data and reports that can be used to cause adjustments in web design.   I learned new techniques to quickly find information within Google Analytics and structure the information into a useful report.   Even more valuable were the discussions about what actions to take based on the data.

For example using:

  • Site search for keyword research.
  • Advanced segments, table filters and view filters to identify missed opportunities.
  • Secondary dimensions and weighted sorts for comparisons to solve problems.
  • …. A whole lot more.

Extra Resources to Augment Website Marketing

The course also covers how to integrate some Google tools that augment Google Analytics:  Web Master, Tag Assistant, Tag Manager, and one of my favourites, Google URL Builder.

Now They’ve Added A Workbook

Eric has created and refined an interactive format where participants work with the course leader to complete a workbook instead of staring at a bunch of PowerPoint slides. The workbook method is beneficial as it allows course participants the hands on experience in working through the analytics process with the guidance of the instructor.  I was fortunate to give feedback on a draft version of the workbook and, yes, it is excellent at showing you how to apply the principals you learn.  When I did the training last year in Washington DC, we had the PowerPoint version, but I envy those who get the workbook version.


If you are looking for Google Analytics training, seriously consider attending one of Eric Fettman’s analytics training courses.  You will find Eric to be an engaging, patient and knowledgeable instructor who understands how marketers need to use Google Analytics for website performance.

The training is planned across North America.  If you can get yourself a seat there it’s worth the money and time.

10 Jun

Review of Digital Strategy Conference 2013

digital_strategy_logoThe Ottawa Digital Strategy Conference presented a terrific tool for assessing digital marketing strengths and weaknesses, the dStrategy Media Digital Maturity ModelTM. 

dStrategy Media Digital Maturity Model

It’s an impressively simple model that provides an easy grading system and comprehensive framework around six dimensions: 



Human Resources The people and the skills required to deliver a digital strategy. 
Technology Resources Tools available to manage digital strategies such as CRM, Email, analytics / measurement, and marketing automation
Data Strategy Reflects all the ways data is captured, stored, managed and used in decision making.
Content Strategy A comprehensive process to create, manage, deliver, share, and archive content in reliable ways.
Channel Strategy How your digital presence is presented to target buyers through paid, owned and earned media.
Social Business Strategy The tools and ability to collaborate online and transparently with customers, prospects, employees, and partners.

Each dimension has criteria for being graded on a scale from zero to high. We spent most of the first day applying those criteria to case studies and to our own work environments.

The next two days guest speakers took us through their lessons and expertise on the dimensions.

Notes from some of the speakers:

Keynote:  Making Digital Human

  • Nancy Richardson (@asiandragonlady), VP Digital & Brand at Lu Lu Lemon

Nancy presented five leadership principals for a successful digital marketing strategy:

  1. Hold Space – Do something. 
  2. Focus, prioritize and stay the course – when you say yes to everything, your yes has no meaning
  3. Communicate fearlessly to build trust – new ideas are greater than safety
  4. Think of everyone as a storyteller – our people are our story
  5. Create a vision and pull it forward – What if you weren’t afraid of failing?

Our Brave new World:  Branding in the Digital World

  • Ross Hugessen (@rhugessen), Vice President & Client Insight Leader, Ipsos

The digital world is changing how people interact with brands – they can choose a close, a distant or no relationship at all.  We are in an era of pull marketing and as such need to measure behaviours such as views, click through by site, search, URL visits and social posts.

Creating a Marketing Automation Blue Print Case Study

  • Pierce UJJainwalla (@marketing_101), Marketing Automation Consultant, Revenue Pulse and Peter Hrabinsky, VP Marketing, Revenue Automate.com

Marketing automation enables progressive profiling which allows businesses to send messages to people based on their behaviours – what they download, or view.  This personalized experience also enables multiple campaigns, nurturing streams, lead scoring and the attribution of revenue directly to each marketing program. 

Data Strategy:  Preparing for Performance Measurement and Digital Analytics

  • Christopher Berry (@cjpberry), Chief Science Officer, Authentic

Chris began by saying “It is a choice to have a data strategy or compete on gut feel”.  He went on to show us what it takes for good performance measurement and analytics;

A good data strategy pulls from three different categories of skills:

  1. Technical – Those who use tool sets such as Google Analytics
  2. Analytical – those able to derive meaning from the data extracted from the tools
  3. Strategic – those who can align business objectives

It is almost impossible to find all three in the same person.

When setting your objectives there are two important questions that shape the objectives needed to define a data strategy:

  • Whose behaviour are you trying to shape?
  • What behaviour are you trying to cause?
  • Rahel Anne Bailie (@rahelab), President, Intentional Design.ca

What is Content Strategy?

“Content is the primary way that people understand our products” Therefore our content must be treated like a business asset – inventoried and tracked for its effectiveness.  In other words be sure (through the data strategy) that all content:

  • Enhances the user’s experience
  • Is easy to find because the website is designed for users.
  • Rob Woodbridge (@RobWoodbridge), Founder, Untether TV and Brian Flanagan (@bflanagan), Sr. Director, Product and Retail Canada and LATAM, Expedica Canada.

Thinking outside the box – Establishing a Mobile Strategy

The title is interesting considering the thesis of the presentation was “Mobile is NOT a Strategy!  Mobile Can be an Important Channel”.  To be successful with a mobile channel answer these questions:

  • Where are your customers?
  • Do your customers have smartphones (%)?
  • What do they do in on their mobile devices?
  • Is your infrastructure able to support Mobile? 

What is Social Strategy?

  • Delaney Turner (@dturnerblogs), Social Business Strategist, IBM Canada Ltd.

Social media becomes social business when it’s engaging, transparent and nimble:

  • Engaging – two way conversation
  • Transparent – information flows freely
  • Nimble – there is quick adaption to change.

16 Apr

Track your marketing results with this free tool

Do you have data on your marketing activities like your newsletter links, banner advertisements, paid links, social media?  A technique called “tagging” each call to action link enables tracking of these results.  Google Analytics URL Builder (it’s free) makes tags for you and then puts the results in Google Analytics.

What is a “Tag”?

A “tag” HTML code that places a unique identifier on a link.   Every time that tag is clicked it is counted because of the tag.  Every tag needs to contain identifying properties; source / referrer, medium, and campaign.

To understand a tag’s value take how to build them take a look at the post How to Move Beyond Open and Click Through Rates.

HTML coding NOT required with Google’s free URL Builder

You don’t have to know HTML to create your own tags.  Google Analytics URL Builder is a free tool that creates a custom tag to track results for marketing activities like display / banner ads, newsletter links, email blasts, affiliate links, tweets and more.    It’s a great way to get accurate and objective feedback on what was done well and what needs improvement.

How to make your own tags with Google Analytics URL Builder

Let’s assume you place an advertisement in an online publication and that ad contains a link back to your website.  To track the advertisement’s performance attach a unique tag to the link that takes viewers of your ad back to your website.   Take these steps:

  • Go to Google Analytics URL Builder
  • Fill in the blanks; campaign source, medium and name are mandatory
  • Click the button “create URL”
  • Immediately below you are presented with your tag that is pasted into your advertisement.

Here is a sample of what a link with a tag for my website might look like:

Track Marketing campaigns in Google Analytics with UTM Codes

Google URL Builder makes the tag for you!


All your results are in Google Analytics

For those with Google Analytics Accounts the clicks on each tag are identified under “traffic sources” > Search > Campaigns. All activity where a tagged link was used is captured in this single, which place which makes for easy comparisons.

I have a tag on my email signature so I know if email recipients are using it to access the website.  Figure 2 shows how it is displayed in Google Analytics.






Let me know how about your tagging experiences.

15 Apr

Better Marketing decisions – GA’s advanced segmentation and profile

Web analytics tools make it easy for B2B marketers to get distracted, overwhelmed and then not do anything meaningful with the valuable data.  Google Analytics offers two powerful tools, Profiles and Advanced Segmentation that help you focus meaningful data and removing extraneous data.  In fact Profiles and Advanced Segments are complimentary features of Google Analytics that make it easier to view data.

A profile is something you set and forget because it “cleans data” based on criteria on a go forward, “permanent” (until you change the profile criteria) basis.  For example many companies exclude their employee website traffic from their so they set-up a profile that excludes their employee traffic and then use that profile for their analysis.

On the other hand advanced segmentation is an ad-hoc drill down tool for deeper investigations.   For example, looking at traffic from a specific geography, that used a keyword, viewed more than two pages and converted into a sales lead.  In this case you would segment your data using the Advanced Segments feature in Google Analytics.

Profiles and Advanced Segmentation have a lot of similarities.  For example both;

  • Can be customized to pull exactly the data you need.
  • Set rules that define what data you can see; for example, visitors from a specific geography, keyword traffic, page performance and bounce rates, etc.

Although similar, there are important differences identified in Table 1 between a profile and Advanced Segment.

Table 1 – Difference between Google Analytics Profile and Advanced Segmentation

Advanced    Segments

Filtered    Profiles

May be applied to historical data Applied only going forward data
Available across all accounts and profiles Applied to specific web property
Compare up to 4 advanced segments side by side in reports Can be viewed only one at a time.
Easier ad-hoc creation for both uses and administrators Need some planning to create because it impacts data on a go forward   basis.
Temporary Permanently affect or restrict data that appears;  example;    profile only shows cpc data
Restricts user access until the filtering is removed or they log out. Restrict user access to a data subset



Brian Clifton, Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (p. 288-89);   Third Edition, 2012.

Google Analytics Help.


15 Mar

B2B website content and lead generation – It is a team sport

A company hired me after they blew the entire marketing budget and had less than 20 leads to show for it.  The CEO asked me what was wrong. When I replied that the website content and marketing message needed alignment asked “what’s that have to do with lead generation?”  Here’s how I showed him the importance of alignment.

The website analytics clearly showed a spike in website visitors following each lead generation campaign.  In fact the traffic spikes so closely mirrored lead generation activities I was able to tell the CEO when they exhibited at tradeshows, ran an advertisement, sent an email blast, used social media, and just about any other lead generation activity.

Lead generation campaigns brought more website traffic

It was clear that each lead generation campaign was causing a spike in website traffic, but the company’s website was sabotaging the efforts.  The website message was a couple of years old and the message had not been updated to reflect the new market and buyer needs.

Website analytics lead to fact based decisions

The web analytics validated that the website message was not aligned with the messages being delivered in lead generation activities like advertising and email blasts.  Using the web analytics it was easy to make fact based decisions on new content and navigation for the website.

On the other hand, if we did not have web analytics we might have proceeded with my “guess” that the problem was message alignment.  But what if that was not the problem?  What if it was something far deeper…. How would anyone know?

Ensure message alignment

Most of your lead generation activities will send people to your website (even if that’s not what you want them to do – they will just google your company name), where they will determine if your content helps them.  Need proof: look at your website analytics after executing your lead generation activities.

Many businesses follow a “set and forget” approach to their website – that is the website rarely updated.  Meanwhile they constantly evolve their marketing activity messages.  It’s an easy thing to do when we are really busy.

Message alignment – it’s a team sport

Website data such as keywords, page abandons, and more can demonstrate which messages are working and which ones are collecting digital dust.  The good keywords can be applied to lead generation efforts.  Likewise the successful marketing campaigns can be great tests for potential new website messaging.

What’s your experience with the alignment of lead generation programs and the message message on your website?