I spoke in my Christmas video about Universal Analytics and touched on it at the 4Ps Data Debateyet I didn’t really explain what it was or how it could benefit a business. If I had to sum up Universal Analytics in five words I would probably say it is “Tracking a full customer journey”.

If you are a traditional Google Analytics user, you probably know you are able to see how traffic arrives on your site, what pages are viewed, what countries and devices and how visitors interact with your site through events and social tracking. If you are a retailer you can see what someone may have bought. This is all well and good but analytics makes one assumption – all of this happens within a visit context.

What do I mean by this? I mean that Analytics focuses around a visit, thus if the customer goes in to a store, uses another PC or device then they are seen as another visitor.  Universal Analytics is focused around the customer and uses a consistent Customer ID to track the customer when they interact (be it online or offline).

So how does this work? I am going to re-use the LunaMetrics example using Tesco and christmas jumpers.

Like many people I have a Tesco clubcard. So, as its Christmas its highly likely Tesco mail me a list of festive offers in the post.

As I’m not home much I don’t read this until a week later on the train on the way to work. I see Christmas jumpers have quadruple clubcard points and so on my phone I open the Tesco mobile site using the vanity URL, login but don’t buy anything as I arrive to 4Ps HQ. Later in the day after being inspired by Steph in her Christmas jumper, I go onto the Tesco website (which I’ve ticked to remind myself) and try and find a similar jumper but I’m just not sure.

On the way home, I go back onto the mobile site to check whether my local store stocks Christmas jumpers it does so I visit on the way home purchasing my very own jumper and take advantage of the quadruple clubcard points off.

Traditionally, using Google Analytics, I wouldn’t see the offline conversion and my journey would appear as two seperate people:

1. A visitor to the mobile site and a clubcard holder look at Christmas jumpers and you’d see I returned later in the day to find my local store.

2. A second direct visitor also a clubcard holder look at Christmas jumpers.

In Universal Analytics this journey would be able to be joined up as one customer (rather than separate ones) showing my full conversion path:

1. I load the mobile phone application to view Christmas jumpers

Journey: Offline Mailer (as it had a trackable vanity URL) -> Mobile Site Visit

2. I get to work, see Steph in her Christmas jumper and search for a jumper.

Journey: Offfline Mailer -> Mobile Site Visit -> Desktop Site Visit

3. I then look to find my store

Journey: Offfline Mailer -> Mobile Site Visit -> Desktop Site Visit -> Mobile Site Visit

4. I then go instore to purchase

Journey: Offfline Mailer -> Mobile Site Visit -> Desktop Site Visit -> Mobile Site Visit -> Offline purchase

Now, this does make some assumptions, for example I am logged in but we as users are becoming used to signing in to access services – we have to do this on our iPhone or Android handsets in order to use them for example.

What perhaps is the key take home here is strategy. Brands need to consider how customers engage with them both online (mobile, tablet, desktop) and offline. If you want to track customers using Universal Analytics how will you identify them and are you doing so in the right places? Is their a tangible benefit to a customer signing in? Is it always clear what that benefit is?

Those of you who attended the Data Debate should remember that we live in a world of increasing data and those who are successful manage this in an open, trustworthy and transparent way.

This video is part of the 4Ps Marketing 12 Days of Digital Facebook App – providing you with insights into what our experts believe is to come in Digital Marketing in 2013.

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