The What, the Why, and the How of User ID Tracking

03 Apr 2019 | vividreal

The User ID Tracking feature of Google Analytics is essential to track the activities of a single user across multiple devices and platforms. Granular details of registered users can also be garnered through this. The default identification used by Analytics is by assigning each user a Client ID which is based on the device used.

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The What

Principally, Google Analytics tracks records such as the location, page views, devices, conversions, and other statistics that help you better analyze the performance of your website. This gives insights on how to improve user experience and be more beneficial for your business.

The User ID tracking feature concentrates all this information on a single user and ties his/her various activities together, thus eradicating false statistics.

If a single person accesses your website via a smartphone and then through a tablet but converted on a desktop, the basic analytics statistics show these activities to be from 3 distinct users. But with User ID tracking, Analytics comprehends the data to be from a single user.

A con is that only a small number of users tend to log in through all the devices they use and Analytics cannot tie their activities together in this scenario. Therefore, the data collected is not completely error-free.

The Why

Some options for leveraging the maximum out of User ID tracking nestles in its following applications:

  • News websites could pinpoint a certain user’s location and the genre that he/she is interested in and provide relevant content.
  • An e-commerce website could accurately track the user who viewed and purchased a specific item even if he/she had done so through multiple devices.
  • High-value clients can be determined easily.
  • Tracking the activity of each individual user is simplified.

The How

It is inevitable for your website to have certain features in order to enable ID Tracking. Any kind of unique ID provided to the user across all the platforms of your system through a login or email address tracking option (through subscriptions) is necessary for the website to be eligible for User ID Tracking.  

In order to set up User ID Tracking, perform the following steps:

  • Enter the Admin view in your Google Analytics account.
  • Select Tracking Info under the Property section.
  • Click on User-ID to enable the feature.
  • After enabling the feature, create a User ID view to segregate data from registered users and others.
  • Further, create a Custom Dimension in order to track the user ID.
  • Website configuration to send the relevant data to Google Analytics is also important. This can be done by modifying your tracking code. As the User ID, use the same value used by your identification system and then pass it into a JavaScript variable. Include the “userID” attribute in your property definition function and you are all ready to go.
  • The benefit of session unification is also provided by Analytics. Turning ON session unification will prompt Analytics to track the user’s activity before being assigned a User ID which means it will track begin tracking the User before he/she logs in.

Though these perks tower aside, there exist a few blights tied to this. User-sided actions such as cookie deletion, JavaScript halting and using borrowed or public devices will form blemishes in the data.

The best practice is to make out a pattern from the data and analyze the trends rather than trying to comprehend absolute numbers. To enable ethical exploitation of user data, there are certain guidelines provided under Google’s User ID Policy which has to be adhered to. 

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