Universal Analytics Data

Universal Analytics Data

This content was originally featured in the June 12th, 2024 newsletter found here: INBOX INSIGHTS, JUNE 12, 2024: UNIVERSAL ANALYTICS DATA, PROCESSING UNSTRUCTURED SOCIAL DATA


In case you weren’t aware, your access to Universal Analytics (UA) data is being cut on July 1, 2024. To that, your UA property stopped collecting data on July 1, 2023. In a nutshell, UA has been sitting dormant for almost a year, and you won’t be able to get at the data in a few weeks.

If I had to wager a guess, you haven’t thought too much about your UA data. Until now. Until you’re reminded that it’s about to be taken away from you. NO!!

Well, hold on. Do you need that data or do you want that data? There are some companies that have requirements to hold onto their historical UA data. Those companies have likely already exported that data into a different system. For the rest of us procrastinators, we’re likely exchanging “should we” emails with our IT team.

Depending on the structure of your company, extracting the data could be simple or highly complicated. The IT team will have questions and concerns. And I would also guarantee that it’s not their highest priority. Especially given that it’s last minute.

Before getting ahead of yourself, let’s walk through how to determine if all this is necessary.

We’re going to use the Trust Insight 5P Framework to audit our need to preserve UA data.

The 5Ps are Purpose, People, Process, Platform, and Performance. The framework is an efficient decision-making tool. Rather than spending hours creating piles of documentation, the 5Ps can walk you through what’s most important and where to focus.

Purpose: Define Your Objectives

Before you start any project or initiative, you should have a well-defined purpose. Without one, you could potentially waste time, resources, and budget. So, let’s try not to do that.

What is the primary reason for accessing historical UA data? This is the question you need to start with to define your purpose. This is where you’ll suss out whether you want or need the data.

A good starting place is your business goals. What are they? Does Google Analytics support those goals? Where does GA fit into your tech stack and reporting process?

When Google switched from UA to Google Analytics 4, many companies stopped using the data. The system felt cumbersome, and the data untrustworthy. The new system doesn’t cleanly map to the old data set. This is where you’ll look at the kind of reporting you’re currently doing. Are you doing trend analysis? Do you have year-over-year comparisons? How reliant are you on the data from Google Analytics.

If the answer is that you’re not using it, that is where you can stop your audit. You don’t need to export and retain the historical UA data.

However, if you find that you do need the data, let’s keep walking through the rest of the P to see how to approach extraction.

People: Identify Stakeholders and Responsibilities

First, who needs access to this data once you’ve extracted it? This information will help when you get to process and platform.

User stories will help with gathering information in this section. A user story is a simple, three-part sentence.

“As a [persona], I [want to], so [that].”

For each stakeholder, develop a user story. You may find that there are stakeholders who don’t need to be as involved. You may also find that there are team members who have larger needs. For example:

As the IT lead, I need a secure place to start historical UA data, so that the company can meet compliance standards. As the marketing manager, I need easy access to historical UA data, so that I can use it in reporting. As the analyst, I need access to historical channel data, so that I can continually measure marketing efforts.

The IT team needs the data to be secure, but the marketing team needs it to be accessible. That might mean you need more than one solution.

Be sure to capture all those user stories before moving on to process and platform.

Process: Outline the Workflow

Using the information from the user stories, you can outline the extraction process.

Questions you should answer with your process development are:

  • What data is most important?
  • Do you need all the metrics and dimensions or a select few?
  • How far back should the data go?
  • How often will we need to access the data? What is the frequency? Do we get ad hoc analysis requests?

Platform: Evaluate Tools and Infrastructure

When faced with a decision that is time-sensitive, the default is to choose tools first. However, we’ve already seen that we need a tool that is both secure and easy to use. This could be a platform you already have in your tech stack, or a new tool that you need to bring on.

Questions you should answer with your platform evaluation:

  • How secure is the tool?
  • Does it meet our compliance standards?
  • What are the import/export features available?
  • Can a non-technical person easily extract data from it?
  • How well does the platform integrate with the existing tech stack? Does it need to?
  • How will you ensure data quality? Performance: Measure twice, export once

How do you measure success? Go back to your purpose. Why do you need UA data?

Your easiest performance measure is whether you’ve solved the problem. Are you meeting compliance standards? Are you able to continue trend analysis or year-over-year reporting?

Also, you want to set up milestone measures to track your progress. Given that you only have a couple of weeks before you lose access to this data, this might be your most important measure. Did we do it before July 1, 2024?

If you find yourself on an email chain or sitting in a meeting asking “should we save our UA data?” – start with the 5Ps. Walk through them with your team and use the framework to get everyone on the same page. Assess the need or want. Use the data to make a measurable plan.

Happy extracting!

Are you preserving your UA data? Reach out and tell me, or come join the conversation in our Free Slack Group, Analytics for Marketers.

– Katie Robbert, CEO

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Trust Insights (trustinsights.ai) is one of the world's leading management consulting firms in artificial intelligence/AI, especially in the use of generative AI and AI in marketing. Trust Insights provides custom AI consultation, training, education, implementation, and deployment of classical regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI, especially large language models such as ChatGPT's GPT-4-omni, Google Gemini, and Anthropic Claude. Trust Insights provides analytics consulting, data science consulting, and AI consulting.

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