Do you want to continue tracking how people interact with your website from Summer 2023? Then you need to understand Google Analytics 4 – what it is, how it differs from previous versions of analytics, and why you need to switch and familiarise yourself with it sooner rather than later. Discover everything you need to know in this guide.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics is a free analytics platform that provides insights into your website traffic, engagement, and conversion. It is used by most websites in the world today and allows you to track user behaviour throughout your site.
As with all software, there are new versions, which represent small upgrades and bug fixes to a product; and new product releases, which are re-inventions of the product which address more fundamental issues with the previous version.
Google Analytics 4 is the fourth product release of Google’s Analytics platform. As they involve fresh thinking, new product releases are often not “backwards compatible”, and this is the case with GA4 – this is why you need to read on.
What’s the difference between GA4 and the last version of Analytics?
One of the key advantages of the new Google Analytics 4 properties is that it can track visitors’ activity across multiple sites and apps. Previously, you needed to use one UA property to track website data and a separate property in Analytics for Firebase to measure your mobile app usage.
Because you can now monitor users across your website, apps, and software, you get a holistic view of how your customers interact with your business. In other words, you have access to new cross-platform tracking data.
End to end Customer Journey visibility
To provide better insight into how users interact with your website and app, GA4 has made all measurements “events.” As events are not defined as simplistically as page views, this gives you endless ways to better understand user behaviour. This granularity of data gives you more information for data driven decision making.
Not only does GA4 offer better user-centric analysis tools, it also includes new predictive technology. Thanks to Google’s machine-learning know-how, you can apply these new insights to your Google Ads, remarketing, social media marketing, and, of course, your website.
New Privacy Controls
Google’s GA4 now uses AI to model missing information, giving you a more complete picture of your data as the world moves away from cookies and other personal identity data capture. As a result, you can abide by new privacy protection laws (like GDPR and CCPA) while still learning about the behaviour of your customer base.
Control and Customisation
To accommodate all of these improvements, GA4 comes with a fresh new dashboard. Given all these new data points, you will want to focus your reports on the metrics that are key for your business – GA4 lets you customize the dashboard to prioritize the KPIs you want to view. You can also integrate with Google Data Studio to generate custom visualizations.
Some of the changes in Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics reporting include:
- Group the reports you want under a “Reports: View customized data” menu.
- The additional reports include not just “Acquisition” but now also “Engagement,” “Monetization,” and “Retention” – all under a new category called “Lifecycle.“
- The search function is great – both for helping you to learn about GA4, and also for immediate answers to queries. Use it for some DIY Google Analytics 4 training!
When should I Switch to Google Analytics 4?
In March 2022, Google announced that Universal Analytics would be discontinued on July 1st, 2023. What’s more, whilst you will have access to your historical UA, the data from your UA will not be visible in your GA4 account. This is because the data in GA4 is built in a different way, so is not directly comparable with your UA data.
So, the best time to switch to Google Analytics 4 is now!
We recommend that you set up your GA4 to run parallel with UA. First, this allows you to familiarise yourself with the functions and features of the new product. It will also give you the opportunity to minimise the amount of data source consolidation you will need to do next year to enable year on year comparisons in your reporting.
Secondly, you can start feeding your account with data to enable the building of accurate and relevant machine learning insights.
For expert assistance setting up your Google Analytics 4 account correctly and quickly, contact WSI Digital Advisors today.