Understand the Migration to Google Analytics Universal: Flowchart and Video

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The flowchart maps out the steps required for Google Analytics Universal migration.

Google announced yesterday that Google Analytics Universal has launched out of beta. What does this mean?

For most Google Analytics users, this means that you can now enable the Demographics and Interests reports and use remarketing segments, functionalities heretofore reserved for Google Analytics Classic.

More generally, it means that you need to start thinking about your migration to Google Analytics Universal if you haven’t already. While Google Analytics Classic (ga.js tracking code) is supposed to be supported for up to two more years, new features will be available only in Universal (analytics.js tracking code), so don’t delay in planning the switch from the version of Google Analytics that is now officially deprecated.

That said, much of the discussion around Universal has centered around new features such as the Measurement Protocol and cross-device tracking. While these are welcome additions, you first need to focus on the basics of transferring your properties to Universal and making the necessary coding changes. To this end, the E-Nor team has put together a flowchart and video to help with your migration.

The switch to Universal doesn’t have to be complicated. The flowchart and video should help to clarify the overall process and highlight the special technical considerations.

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Conversion Rate Down? – Check the Path Length Report

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The Path Length report can provide another perspective on your conversion rates.

A lower goal or Ecommerce conversion rate relative to the same period last year may not necessarily indicate that your site’s performance has slipped: it may just mean that visitors are visiting a greater number of times before converting.

As with the other Multi-Channel Funnel reports, the Path Length report provides an additional perspective on your conversions. In the case of Path Length, you can see how many visits are required for visitors to convert.

Because conversion rate is based on visits and not unique visitors, a greater number of visits before conversion would lower conversion rate, perhaps even if the overall number of conversions has increased. The opposite could also be true: if visitors are converting in fewer visits, but fewer conversions are occurring overall, conversion rate could actually increase, since there would be fewer total visits before conversion.

Thus, when we’re looking at conversion rates, it’s helpful to also consider path length and, of course, total conversions.

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Apply Advanced Segments to Goal Reports for More Meaningful (and Higher) Conversion Rates

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With an advanced segment applied, goal and Ecommerce conversion rates are more meaningful (and higher).

If you only expect one type of visitor to your site – such as a visitor who has or has not logged in, a visitor from a specific geographical area, or a visitor who has accessed a certain page – to complete a certain goal or an Ecommerce transaction, you should apply an advanced segment to your goal reports for more meaningful (and higher) conversion rates.

For example, let’s say that your website consists of two main sections: news and content on the one hand, and an online store on the other. If you don’t necessarily expect visitors on the news side to complete transactions in the store, you should create an advanced segment based on visitors who have viewed at least one page in the store and apply that segment to your goal and Ecommerce reports.

As is illustrated in the screen shot, the conversion rate for the segment will be higher (and more meaningful) than for all traffic, and variations in conversion rate over time will have greater amplitude and therefore be easier to detect.

This illustrates a general principle in Web analytics: the more specificity you apply to your analytics in terms visitor segmentation, the more you’ll be able to make meaningful observations and take concrete action to improve your website.

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Goal Conversion Rate Is Based on Total Visits, Not Unique Visitors

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Conversion Rate can be somewhat ambiguous as a metric.

A conversion rate of 2.62% for the main goal of your website does not indicate that 2.62% of people converted. Rather, it means that 2.62% of total visits included a goal completion.

The implication is therefore that your conversion rate could be decreasing while the actual performance of your website for that goal is improving. If more visits are required for a goal completion but the goal completion is ultimately taking place, your website is doing its job.

A less ambiguous metric is goal completions. This is an absolute number that requires little interpretation (although we always need to keep in mind that a significant number of website visits could result in phone and brick-and-mortar conversions).

Does this mean that we should ignore conversion rate? Surely not, but we do need to remember how it’s calculated.

In future posts, we’ll look at ways you can further analyze and better understand your goal conversion rates.

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Google Analytics “Hit”: Definition and Limits

Although pageviews are central to Google Analytics, the calculation of interaction metrics and limits in Google Analytics is based on a broader set of interactions.

A Google Analytics hit is defined as a pageview, a virtual pageview, an event, a social action, or an Ecommerce transaction. Unlike regular pageviews, the other types of interactions are not generated by the default Google Analytics tracking code but instead require special coding.

For calculating time metrics and bounce, Google Analytics treats all hits equally. For this reason, if a virtual pageview (from a PDF download, for example) or an event (from a video play) occurs during a single-page visit, that visit is not counted as a bounce (unless, in the case of the event, you have coded the event as non-interaction).

Google Analytics bases interaction limits on hits and not exclusively on pageviews. Google Analytics can capture up to 500 hits per visit and 10 million hits per month. (The monthly hit limit for Google Analytics Premium increases to 1 billion.)

Note that hit in Google Analytics differs from the general hit of Web server parlance, which instead refers to a request for any file from the Web server, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or an image. (It also differs from the layperson’s usage of hit as a visit to your website.)

Although hit does not appear anywhere in the Google Analytics interface, it’s an important concept for Google Analytics practitioners.

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Multi-Channel Funnel Reports Show Conversion Attribution Chain

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The Top Conversion Paths report displays conversion attribution history.

In a recent post, we saw that the Goals reports in Google Analytics attribute conversions entirely to the last click or to the last direct visit that didn’t follow a more specific source.

The Multi-Channel Funnel reports, however, do preserve the entire attribution history leading up to conversions. Also, they do not overwrite (direct)/(none) as (source)/(medium) for a visit if a more specific source (such a referral, an organic visit, or a campaign) generated a previous visit. In this way, the Multi-Channel Funnel reports can more accurately reflect the chain of sources that drove conversions.

As with any sort of visit-to-visit tracking, the Multi-Channel Funnel reports depend on browser cookies. If the visitor deletes cookies, attribution history is lost, and Google Analytics starts a new attribution record on that visitor’s next visit.

By default, the channels defined in the Multi-Channel Funnels report may be too general. In an upcoming post, we’ll discuss how to create custom channels for more actionable insights.

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Goal Overview Report Displays Most Recent Source/Medium

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The Goal Overview report displays the source/medium for the converting visits, which may or may not be the same as for the original visits.

A previous post illustrated the principle of last-click attribution: in most reports, including Goal Overview, applies the source/medium of the most recent visit. (The exception is (direct)/(none), which does not overwrite a more specific source/medium from a previous visit.)

This means that Google Analytics would ascribe all credit for a conversion to Google organic if that was the source/medium of the converting visit, even if two visits by that same visitor prior to conversion were driven by Google AdWords and an email campaign.

In an upcoming post, we’ll review the Multi-Channel Funnel reports for a more complete picture of the sources that are generating conversions on your site.

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View Smartphone Search Metrics in Google Webmaster Tools

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Switch to the Mobile filter in the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report to view phone searches.

Following up on a previous post that recommended Google Webmaster Tools as a useful complement to Google Analytics, today we apply the Mobile filter to the GWT Search Queries report to display metrics for Google searches that originated on smartphones and feature phones.

By changing the Search Queries report from the default Web filter, you can display impressions, clicks, clickthrough rate, and average position for your keywords as they appeared in Google search engine results on phones.

Note that GWT data imported into to Google Analytics Search Engine Optimization reports is unfiltered; neither the Web nor the Mobile filter is applied.

Special thanks to Cindy Krum of MobileMoxie for her assistance with today’s post.

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Google Analytics Account Limit Raised from 25 to 100

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You can now create as many as 100 Google Analytics accounts per Google login.

Our friends at Google Analytics recently raised the number of accounts your can create, per Google login, from 25 to 100. This should be welcome news for agencies and anyone else who needs to implement Google Analytics for a multitude of websites.

If you still have to go beyond this limit, you can always ask a third party (such as the owner of the website that you need to track) to create the Google Analytics account under his/her login and then just provide you with full administrative access. If you’re granted all four access levels (Manage Users, Edit, Collaborate, and Read & Analyze), you’ll have identical privileges to the account creator.

You can also create another Google login, which would allow you set up an additional 100 Google Analytics accounts, but it’s not considered best practice to fragment your Google Analytics accounts among multiple logins.

Also, we should remember that you don’t need to set up a completely separate account to track a new website; in many cases, just setting up a new property is fully appropriate. The theoretical limit for properties is 50 per Google Analytics account, since the limit for views is 50, and each property has at least one view. In practice, however, you won’t accommodate 50 properties/websites in a single Google Analytics account, since you’ll want to maintain several views (still referred to as profiles in the linked post) for each property.

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Psychology and Design for Conversion Rate Optimization: Bobby Hewitt on Marketing Optimization Podcast

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Bobby Hewitt explores many aspects of conversion optimization in this podcast episode.

In a recent episode of the Marketing Optimization podcast, Bobby Hewitt, CEO and owner of Creative Thirst, offers a range of insights on conversion rate optimization for your website.

Bobby’s unique yet multi-faceted perspectives on testing and conversion rate optimization provide food for thought and many actionable takeaways.

The Marketing Optimization podcast is a very useful resource – since I came across it a little while back, it has been a mainstay in the lineup on my iPhone.

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