Measuring Multiple Devices With Google Universal Analytics

Cuddling with multiple devices
Photo by Jeremy Keith

When the tracking code for Google Analytics was first developed years ago, the web was relatively simple thing. Using a laptop or desktop computer, you opened up a browser, and started “surfing” the Internet. If you were a web developer, site administrator, or someone who was just curious about who was visiting your site, you just needed to install the tracking code on your site, and wait for the data.

For the past five years, at least, your web data, no matter how well analyzed, has given you at best a partial view of who’s visiting your site. Not only are your visitors showing up from smart phones, tablets, laptops, and work computers, they’re often using multiple devices to access your site in a single day. Perhaps someone browses your site on their Android, but buys your produces on their laptop. Or they research hosting options on their work computer, but commit to a hosting plan on their tablet. With Google Analytics, it was difficult, if not impossible, to weave together site visit data generated by the same person.

But with Google Universal Analytics, which is now in public beta, it is finally possible to learn more about your visitors who come to your site from multiple devices. By using the new Measurement Protocol, which collects user data across devices, and, if you’d like, offline sources, like call centers and in-store sales, you will be able to create a clearer picture of who your users are and how to turn them into customers.

For resellers, you can use the new Measurement Protocol in a number of ways, including:

    • Determine where your sales actually originate. For example, imagine that your hosting services are featured in a local blog. Someone reads about your service on their iPhone and clicks through to your site. Later that day, they look for your site on Google and click on the paid advertisement that shows up in the search results. Under Google Analytics, only this last site visit would have shown up, leading you to believe that your users primarily find your site on their own. But, with Google UA, you’re able to see how a visitor went from a quick scan of your site on their iPhone to purchasing a hosting plan on their home computer.
    • Expand your services to your customers. If you provide hosting plans to people in your town or city, you can help your clients incorporate offline data with the data they’re already collecting online. For example, if your client uses a store loyalty card, you can incorporate that data into their analytics, so they can see how many customers also visit their website. A restaurant can test out the efficacy of using social media “check-in” specials by correlating data collected online with in-store experiences.
    • Improve and test your responsive design. Now that responsive design is all the fashion, a/b testing requires collecting data across the various platforms your visitors use to access your site. For example, if your mobile visitors are largely browsers, rather than buyers, you can adjust your site with their needs in mind. Likewise, if you learn that your shopping cart needs to be optimized for laptops, you can test with that focus in mind.

While Google UA has many features, its new Measurement Protocol is a game changer. By tracking your users across many devices, both online and offline, you’ll miss fewer sales opportunities and help yourself, and your customers, get maximize their returns.

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