Analytics Everywhere | The Really Big Picture

October 30, 2013

Universal Analytics streamlines our way to a new horizon: measurement everywhere – where and when you engage your customer, when they engage your digital presence, brick-and-mortar presence, personnel and in every interaction thereafter.

Literally, let’s measure the entire customer lifecycle.

With measurement comes optimization: you can optimize for customer retention, but only if you measure it. You can identify predictors of changing customer relationships, and proactively tune the relationship; you might even automate it.

With measurement comes the ability to better serve your customer, followed by success and profit, if analyzed and optimized carefully.

True e-commerce data

Tracking transactions can happen offline now; you don’t have to wait for your users to see a confirmation page. Historically, with tracking only in the browser, we were limited to tracking the transactions where the user was actively involved.

We can now open the envelope on new types of e-commerce transactions, which don’t involve active participation of the user at time of transaction. It can happen while your users are asleep, if you need to defer it, or if it’s tied to a recurring subscription. For example, if you rely on recurring monthly subscriptions, each month your customer is making a choice to continue the subscription, but may not be taking any action on your website to demonstrate that choice. You can now automate that interaction – reflecting the continued engagement in GA without the need for a user-initiated action.

Customer Relationship events

Many businesses also have in-person or phone contact with their clients.

For example, many consumer electronics and mobile telecom companies engage their clients on the web, for managing accounts, devices, and services. They also operate brick-and-mortar stores, while using iPads and other devices to process purchases that customers make in-store, which they may have researched previously.

With traditional web tracking, this would have been linked to the sales representative, not to the customer. With Universal and back-end tracking, this interaction, and all subsequent/related events, can be tracked to the customer, and analyzed in context of their entire relationship.

Similar models can be applied to the travel industry, where client engagement often involves a lengthy research phase and phone calls with agents. The customer relationship is not entirely comprised of web interaction, and understanding the relationship should integrate all forms of engagement; this is now quite feasible.

Consider also the various parcel services; they often carry devices used to update the status of a delivery in progress. They even, to some extent, identify the recipient. Using the Universal Analytics Measurement Protocol, these parcel services could extend their data to merge web behaviors with package recipient segments, and improve their services to segments of their market which might have different needs or services. (That will soon be very easy to do; we’re about to release a library for Universal Analytics in C.)

Do you email your customers?

How would you like CTR measurement on those campaigns? We can now integrate tracking when the email is sent to the user, and in the email itself, so we can understand the impression rate of email marketing, as well as conversion. The measurement of email impressions and clicks is not new, but we can now integrate those interactions with a full picture of the subsequent web interaction!

For the technical side, there are a few key points to highlight:

Feature Browser tracking with Classic Full Stack tracking with Universal
Cookies & Identification Cookies are required to identify browsers, cost network time (bandwidth), and are less reliable. Back-end systems had to copy the same cookie values, if they would work at all. When a customer logs in, you have an ID, and you can associate every interaction back to individual users. Back-end systems will rely on the same ID from your databases, and work across all device(s) the customer uses to interact.
Better Data Browser-side tracking can skew data with behaviors like refreshing e-commerce confirmation pages, which multiplies reported transaction records. Browser-side tracking sometimes has performance hazards. Javascript integration of multiple frameworks can sometimes interfere. Network saturation (especially on mobile) may reduce tracking reliability. Pages may load partially, or incorrectly the first time, so the tracking may not run even if the user experience continues. Server-side tracking gives you tighter control to ensure sensitive tracking is handled exactly as you want it (e.g. only once per e-commerce transaction). Server-side tracking runs “in the background” on your systems, independent of users’ network and any possible conflict in the browser.
Data Privacy & Protection Browser-side tracking is visible to the user. Some kinds of tracking include private business intelligence details that you don’t want competitors seeing. Server-side tracking transmits protected data directly to Google Analytics, instead of through the user’s browser. This background tracking is isolated from the user, visible only between your systems and Google Analytics.

Tools to shape the future of your data

We think the potential of integrating Universal Analytics with all of the technology involved with your customer relationships is pretty huge. An integrated view of the whole customer relationship could significantly change your view of your business, and help you take steps to better target and address the needs of your market.

You may have noticed that we released a few libraries recently. We’re working on more still. We’ll be releasing them as soon as they’re ready (some very soon); please keep an eye on this blog. If you’ve got a platform to track and need advice, insight, or technical support, we’d love to hear from you.

Please contact us if you’re interested in tracking on a platform we haven’t yet announced. We’d be thrilled to help.