Today’s post is by Account Manager Lisa Becker, who proudly hails from Michigan’s U.P. and may or may not have dominated last week’s matchup with the blog editor in the company fantasy football league.

google analyticsGoogle Analytics (GA) benefits from the same continuous upgrades and innovations like all properties we’ve come to associate with the Google name. If you’re a regular GA user, you’re probably already using some of the cooler new features introduced earlier this year.

Now, while these tools have been useful, the even better news is that Google is gearing up to outdo itself with an array of new GA tools.  These features allow you to customize and segment data in more useful ways than ever before and to integrate offline data for a more holistic view of performance. Let’s take a peek into a few of them.

 

1. Universal Analytics – Currently in limited Beta, this is really the meat of the new Analytics tools. Without getting into too much technical mumbo-jumbo, Universal Analytics (UA) is essentially an expansion that allows enterprise-scale businesses (i.e. those with tech resources) to upload marketing data from any variety of sources and manage it in Google Analytics. This should certainly provide a more holistic view of marketing efforts and help businesses better understand customer interaction across channels.

The building blocks of UA are the improved .js tracking code, which utilizes Javascript to track users as opposed to cookies, and the new measurement protocol API, which allows developers to send raw user interaction data to GA using HTTP. This will allow for a greater degree of customization in defining and tracking custom dimensions and metrics, and it will simplify the process of data sharing across platforms.  UA will be especially important for non-ecommerce businesses, which will be able to track offline conversions utilizing the measurement protocol. Likewise, ecommerce businesses will more easily be able to track back visitors who first browse online and later make in-store purchases.

 

2.     Advanced Attribution Modeling – Previously only available to Google Analytics Premium customers, advanced attribution modeling will soon become available for all. This feature takes the current multi-channel funnel in Google Analytics to the next level by allowing individual conversions to be split and attributed to any number of different channels such as paid advertising, organic search, social media, and email marketing, amongst others.

Advanced modeling will shed more light on a user’s path to conversion and how different media channels work together to foster desirable actions. It might be especially useful for businesses that use social media to help in the conversion process. There will be the option to use the built-in models or to create and customize your very own suited to your needs. This feature is currently only available through public whitelist.


3.    
Cost Data Import – GA has recently introduced, in public beta, the missing piece of the ROI puzzle: the ability to analyze return across all digital channels. Now, not only is Google Analytics able to import data directly from AdWords and AdSense, but it has also graduated to automating the import of cost data from virtually any other search engine marketing platform, affiliate, social media channel, or email marketing program. To set it up now, navigate to the Admin console and create a new custom data source and import the data into GA utilizing the API or a third-party tool such as NEXT Analytics.


4.    
User Interface 2.0 – Whether you love or hate the current GA interface, the new interface promises to be even more intuitive. It’ll also feature even more useful reporting such as “visitor”-based reports providing recency, frequency, and monetary value data that even include customer lifetime value (LTV) reports.  This is incredibly useful data in understanding customer retention and determining ideal CPA targets in order to maximize ROI. These reports provide further usable information than the current session-based reports. The launch date for the new interface is yet to be announced but in all likelihood will be sometime in 2013.


5.    
Mobile App Analytics – Given the ever-growing importance of mobile in the consumer landscape, GA has introduced a new set of reports in public beta called Mobile App Analytics. These new reports focus on further drilldown of mobile data and are without a doubt a vast improvement over the limited mobile reporting options introduced in GA earlier this year.

The new mobile app analytics solution utilizes new SDKs for Android and iOS that are more powerful yet easier to implement with noticeable improvements in data quality and utility – including acquisition and user metrics, user engagement metrics, and outcome metrics such as in-app purchases and app versioning metrics.

Other improvements include a more accurate and up-to-date mobile device library, support for social interaction tracking, and the introduction of custom-defined dimensions.

 

In summation, the new Google Analytics tools are the next step in personalization and will allow businesses to segment data in different ways and gather/import new data to glean further insights. This infographic does a particularly excellent job of breaking down several of the new features.

How do you plan to use the new Google Analytics features? Questions, comments, and feedback welcome.

Lisa Becker, Account Manager

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