Bye Bye Google Analytics; Hello Google Universal Analytics

Bye Bye Google Analytics; Hello  Google Universal Analytics

As a leading e-commerce developers we regularly face an awkward question from clients.

How to track ecommerce conversions on Google Analytics when the purchase cycle is long and happens through multiple devices?

Here is more explanation:

We establish small and large size e-commerce portals; mostly for high value items like gems, Jewelry and Diamonds. Most of  our clients do Bing and Google ad-word promotions. The problem is how to track conversions.  Purchase cycles are as long as 2 to 6 Months.

In a typical case a prospective buyer gets the lead from an ad-word (or we don’t know from where) selects a jewelry , sends the link to friends or to himself.. Link is reviewed on multiple devices and purchased in about 3-6 months from some device; may be a tab, desktop, mobile, Ipad.  Google’s Conversion cookie is live for 30 days that too on the same device. Rarely the conversion gets accurately tracked by Analytics Ecommerce feature.

To summarize: Google’s Entire Analytics works on client side cookies . The customer device (desktop ,tab, iphone) changes frequently with advent of one user multiple device concept.


How do I track the conversion rates? How should I know if my campaign is a success or failure? Am I burning too much cash  on ad-words?

How to find answers?

The problem is tricky and complicated So we posted the question on multiple Industry forums like Quora , stackoverflow ,Linkedin and  Analytics forums.

Here are some  interesting responses

Response -1: Prevent  overwriting campaign data through ga.js hack

If you want Google Analytics to keep the first referrer as the source of a conversion after the visitor has returned through other channels, you can use the "&utm_nooverride=1" value: Google Groups

Our Take: It is relevant with tagged campaign on a single device doesn't  offer a solution to one user multiple device issue. Also messes up your regular organic analytics results.

Response -2: Multichannel reports in Analytics

You can pull a multichannel report, such as first click / last click conversions and track down the conversion journey. Bad news are that unless you manage to save the email of this user on the first interaction the moment it changes device it will be seen a fresh new user.

Our Take : Multi Channel is a great feature rolled out by Google to drill into the conversion path. It uses funnel analogy to identify the path traversed by a buyer. You may check out the video here to understand how it works

However the solution will not work for multiple devices. Also not possible to pick an identifiable variable of a client like her “e-mail” until she processes a purchase.

Response 3: Cookie hack and get account suspended

You can save uniquely identifiable information in one of the custom variables but that will be against the terms ( - look at section 7 – Privacy.

Our Take : Technically a hack approach but legally a bad one. This is directly hacking into Google cookies.. For example you manage to plant the customer e-mail or ip into custom variable and try to track buyer. Even if you are able to do it ; some browsers may block writing to third party cookie .Your Google Analytics account may get suspended.  Will fail in https protocol, will fail on multiple device. Anyway “Don’t try this at home “approach.

Response 4: Ask the customer Where You heard about us?

I own jewelry store and if the jewelry sales are like ours you interact with the client. Build trust and ask. They will tell you. Add key concepts in your ads because some times they remembered the words not the place where they hear it.

Our Take : simple but good approach. More “human” less machine” approach. Simply ask the client where he got the reference and input in your CRM software. Or present a mandatory field in the check out option with drop down on “where you heard about us?” It will give you a good idea on which campaign to credit for conversion.

Response 5: A combination of offline Online approach

For low volume, high ticket transactions this method should work. Store your leads in a CRM, do most of your follow-ups and conversations using the CRM system. Track the initiating traffic source using this.  

Any further visits by a user to the site can only be determined if you are capturing the contact details in further interactions as well. Capture the traffic source in these interactions as well.

When the purchase comes through, you can see the complete timeline of that visitor (first visit - when he/she generated the lead, next visits - when he/she got back using the contact form, purchase). The crucial thing for this to work is one common field which is captured in all the interactions which is unique to a visitor. That is the email id.

Our Take : Good solution but manual and off-analytics through CRM

Response 6: Tagged discount coupon with campaign URL

You offer a $10.00 discount or meaningful amount, people will use the coupon and you will have ad tracking information.

Our Take: street smart solution similar to tagged campaign. Will work if user strictly maintains the URL with unique coupon code for purchase.

Google Universal Analytics

Looks like someone must have already haggled Google with this question (before I did ..Joking). How to track conversions if they happen through multiple devices?

Well  here come  panacea from Google : Google Universal Analytics.


We are one of those lucky chosen once by Google testing Universal Analytics for Developers closed door preview.

Its radical and next generation. You must un-learn the analytics as you know it and re-learn it again.

Here are some highlights

1)      No client side cookies (except anonymous identifier) all tracking will be done on server end.

2)      Offline Conversion Import: Using the Measurement Protocol you’ll now be able to send offline conversions to Google Analytics. For example, if a user converts via phone you’ll be able to track that conversion in Google Analytics.

3)      For More information check out Justin Cutroni blog on  

We at TransPacific Software work very hard to provide solution to our client’s ecommerce needs with cutting edge technology Do e-mail me on [email protected]  Prashant Telang CEO