Mailbag Monday The best way to extract UA data

Mailbag Monday: The best way to extract Universal Analytics data?

Katie and Chris answer your marketing, data, and AI questions every Monday.


This week, Beth asked, “What would be the best way to extract Universal Analytics data in order to have it after Google Analytics 4 take place?”


Mailbag Monday: The best way to extract Universal Analytics data?

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AI-generated transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:00
Welcome to this episode of mailbag Monday where Chris and I are answering all of your questions about data marketing, analytics, artificial intelligence, whatever. This week, Beth asks, What would be the best way to extract the data from Universal Analytics? In order to have it after Google Analytics 4 takes place? I feel like this is a fairly common question right now, Chris,

Christopher Penn 0:23
it’s definitely a very common question. And there’s different answers, depending on your budget, your skill level, and your tactical team. The first, easiest way to do it with the minimum amount of pain, there are actually paid services, there are companies that will do that for anywhere from 100 to 1000 bucks, depending on how much data you have, like, for example, porting my blog, with 17 years of data would be the maximum price. But that was that is probably the the easiest, but maybe not the best solution.

Katie Robbert 1:04
See, I’m surprised you didn’t start with defining your requirements, because the first question I would ask is, do you need 17 years worth of data? Do you need all of that data? And so before even getting into the how of it the process, I would start to take a look at the purpose? So I would, unsurprisingly, bring up the five fees. And so by porting over 17 years worth of data, what is the question you’re trying to answer? And so, you know, I would be looking at, or I would be asking you rather, all of this data, what do you look at how much of it is actually important? And, you know, is there? Is it more efficient? Is it faster? Is it less expensive? To just bring over some of the data, only the data that you look at? Or, you know, have you? Have you captured enough data in Google Analytics 4, that you actually don’t need? The Universal Analytics data? Is it just, you know, a comfort thing? Is it a safety net? But do you really need it? So that would be where I would start?

Christopher Penn 2:11
Yeah, I mean, I’m a digital packrat. So like, Yes, I mean, it’ll, I have no idea what I’m gonna do with any of it. But I’m gonna keep every little every scrap of it just because, I mean, I buy new hard drives every three years. Because the amount of data I can just carry over from year to year keeps getting bigger, not necessarily going to do anything with it. But I have it in case I need it. So if you operate on the, you know, the assumptions that you there’s specific data you do need, then yes, you can do that. And then that changes how you’re going to approach things. If you again, if you use a paid service, you’re getting all of it, right, because they’re not going to do it piecemeal, just gonna get the whole thing. Likewise, if you use, there’s open source software like matomo, that you can set up on a server that you own, and install the Google Analytics import, and it too, will vacuum up all the data that is available and make it available to you. So that’s a second option, that’s a more technical option. But it’s also, in some ways, an easier option for some people, because with the backup, you just get a database file. And then you have to see if you know what to do with this thing. With things like matomo, you get a matomo instance. It’s like a Google Analytics instance, where you can then go back and explore your old data and and, you know, be like me, and it’s like, Oh, what was I doing in April of 2012? Like, okay, that would be, that’d be the second option. And then the third option, which really goes to what you’re saying, Katie is selecting the data that you want, that you know, you that you know, you will need, and then using the API to extract that data, and then store it offline, store it somewhere else.

Katie Robbert 3:57
I can say I think about our data, and I know that there’s data points that Universal Analytics collects for us. And we’ve been collecting it for five years that we’ve never looked at. And so that’s where you really have to make those decisions of, well, I haven’t looked at it in five years. Am I going to start looking at it now? And of course, you know, to your point, Chris, I mean, for those that are, you know, the digital packrats there’s that? Well, I might, I think I might need it’s the same thing with cleaning out your closet, like, I haven’t worn that dress. I don’t wear dresses anymore in 10 years, why am I still holding on to it? Well, I just there might be a reason. Like, no, you gotta let it go. So I would say I am well suited to help people clean out their closets and throw things away because that’s one of my favorite things to do. But and so I’d say definitely audit your metrics and see, do you absolutely you can bucket them into must have nice to have and don’t need and that might be an easier way to start to organize it and then choosing an option like matomo sounds like it might be the The most user friendly way to go.

Christopher Penn 5:02
Exactly, especially if you need access to the old data. One other thing to consider course, which which goes in parts of the five P’s, particularly on process is if you are operating in a regulated industry, you may have regulatory requirements. So yeah, you have to keep that data, whether or not you want it.

Katie Robbert 5:21
Yeah, that’s, if you haven’t figured that piece out yet, now’s a great time to do it. Because we are, as of this recording just about 60 days out of Google Analytics 4 becoming the platform of record for Google. So data collection in Universal Analytics will stop in roughly about 60 days. So if you don’t know if you need to keep the data, now, it’s probably a good time to find that out.

Christopher Penn 5:47
Exactly. So yeah, those will be the there it is Beth’s question, there is no best way there’s a best way for your specific needs.

Katie Robbert 5:57
I think that’s true of a lot of things. The best practices is always dependent on your particular situation.

Christopher Penn 6:04
Exactly. So that’s the answer to your question. If you’ve got a question that you want us to answer, go, go to trust You can ask the question right on our contact form, or pop into our free slack group go to trust for marketers, where you have over 3000 other marketers asking and answering each other’s questions every single day. And if you want to get caught up on past questions, you can always catch the week’s recap, and our weekly newsletter, go to trust And you’ll be able to catch up on all the content that we’ve created in the past week. And if you if you’re a digital packrat like me, you’ll save those issues, and you’ll have the entire year’s worth of content. So thanks for tuning in. We’ll talk to you next time.

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