Your ability to use Google Analytics as you know it today is going away on May 25th unless you take action before then as Google recently launched new data retention controls.

And while many of our bank and credit union clients have already discussed GDPR (The General Data Protection Act) with their compliance departments and legal teams to determine what action they should take, I recommend you take a few minutes right now to login to your Google Analytics account to make sure you won’t lose your data.

Go ahead and take a minute right now to login. And if you don’t have access to your Google Analytics account, forward this article to the person that does.

But before we get too far into this, because we’re dealing with regulations, please note this insight is intended to be educational and is not a substitute for legal counsel as we’re digital marketing advisors for banks and credit unions… not lawyers.

Should you take action?

You need to keep reading this article if you login to Google Analytics and see a big yellow warning box at the top of your screen that says, “We've recently launched new Data Retention controls that may affect your data starting May 25, 2018. To dismiss this message, please visit your property’s Data Retention settings under Admin > Property > Tracking Info and click 'Save'.”

The Google Analytics Data Retention controls enable you to set the amount of time before user-level and event-level data stored within Google Analytics is automatically deleted. Some might feel this setting doesn’t appear to be overly critical. And even Google shares this setting won’t “affect most standard reporting based on aggregate data.”

You will lose data if you do nothing

It is true that if Google dumps your data you'll still be able to use aggregate reports, also known as the standard ABC reports as they provide insight into audience, acquisition, behavior, and conversions.

What Google fails to mention, however, is how deleting your data will impact ad-hoc reporting. Ad hoc reports (these include features like segments, table filters, secondary dimensions, and custom reports) are supported by sample data.

And this is where the problem lies with the data retention controls settings. While deleting user data will not affect aggregated reports, you will lose the ability to run ad-hoc reports on historical data.

If you don't take action before May 25th to change your settings, you'll lose any user data that is over 26 months. And without this data, you’ll lose access to the best part of Google Analytics. Put another way, if you don't take action you won’t be able to do historical analysis with data that goes back before March 2016.

Fix the problem in five minutes

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account
  2. Click on admin
  3. Select property settings
  4. Select tracking info
  5. Choose data retention
  6. Select “Do not automatically expire” from the drop-down 
  7. Save your updated settings
  8. Smile because you just saved your Google Analytics data

Survey: Would Google Analytics training be helpful for you?

Through our ongoing digital marketing planning and strategy engagements with banks and credit unions, we see an opportunity to empower financial marketers and help them maximize their knowledge and use of Google Analytics.

We continue to find Google Analytics is only being used to review things like traffic, page views, and time onsite. Furthermore, our research for the 2017 State of Digital Growth Report found that 76% of financial institutions do not have the proper Google Analytics setup.

While I understand Google Analytics can feel very overwhelming and intimidating, it doesn’t have to. I’m confident you can learn to use Google Analytics to elevate your entire marketing department beyond being viewed as a glorified in-house Kinkos, or worse, kids that play with paint and crayons, and into a strategic leader that guides your financial institution towards continued future growth.

Would you find a Google Analytics course designed exclusively for bank and credit union marketers helpful?