How and Why to Switch to Google Analytics 4
If you’re a user of Google Analytics, it is time to embrace (and get excited about) the next stage of its evolution. Say hello to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the new and improved version that replaces Universal Analytics (UA) and brings a bunch of technical enhancements.
Moving to GA4 has to be done quickly as Google officially retires UA on July 1st. After that date, Google will stop processing UA, which means your web traffic measurements and site reporting updates will be disrupted, and you’ll lose all of your previous data.
So, what’s so great about Google Analytics 4 anyway? Well, it aims to give you greater control and monitoring capabilities for your campaigns across different platforms and channels. With these improvements, you’ll be able to easily gather accurate data and measure the performance of your website.
Let’s dive into what Google Analytics 4 is all about:
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is the latest service offered by Google that enables the easy measurement of traffic and engagement across your applications and websites. It provides comprehensive data from the customer journey lifecycle, including engagement and retention activities. Google attributes one of the main reasons for the upgrade to keep up with the rapid changes in consumer behavior and online privacy policies.
What Improvements Can You Expect?
A major difference between UA and GA4 lies in the way they monitor site data. GA4 gives you with more flexibility in monitoring data from multiple touch points, which is important as more users access Google from various devices.
In terms of differences in dashboard layouts, Universal Analytics measures screen views in separate mobile-specific properties while Google Analytics 4 displays both web and app data in one property. GA4 limits filtering options, which could affect the data contained in a compared view. Also, while UA didn’t allow customizable report pages, GA4 now supports customized data card arrangements for easier reference and management.
Here are some features you’ll find in Google Analytics 4:
Instead of relying on page views and sessions like UA, GA4 derives information from event-based parameters. It includes custom, automatically collected, enhanced measurement, and recommended events. This shift emphasizes user activity, helping you understand buyer journeys across different digital properties and make better marketing decisions.
Event tracking Automation
GA4 introduces an automated event-monitoring feature that doesn’t require additional tagging or coding. You can easily automate tracking for events like file downloads and outbound clicks.
A Robust Engagement Metric
GA4 replaces UA’s bounce rate with an engagement rate metric. This metric helps you determine the engagement rates, user engagement time, and engaged sessions per user on your site and app. It improves visitor monitoring by focusing on single-page visits where visitors leave without taking action.
GA4 allows you to generate reports on multi-device and multi-channel data streams. You can group data stream sources and view aggregate data and data per stream. This means you’ll have more reliable cross-platform and cross-device data monitoring.
GA4 includes a built-in DebugView report that shows real-time events and user properties. You can easily navigate through specific data logs organized by seconds and minutes.
Streamlined Data Retention Practices
UA offered several timeframe options for retaining user-specific data of inactive users before automated deletion. One of these options included “do not automatically expire.”
Unlike UA, GA4 simplifies data retention by limiting it to two options: two months and 14-month periods. This helps prevent privacy issues in site management.
Seamless Integration With Google Ads
GA4 seamlessly syncs with Google Ads, giving you a transparent and in-depth view of your customer’s entire lifecycle. By linking these technologies, you can improve your ad remarketing efforts and import cross-device conversions with Google Signals.
Machine Learning Technology
Google Analytics 4 leverages machine learning technology to provide predictive metrics for your campaigns. Advanced algorithms help you discover the latest visitor trends and insights, and even offer strategic recommendations to optimize visitor engagement and conversions.
So where do we go from here?
Of course, Google has published lots of resources to help you get set up, but here are the most straightforward how-tos that will get you up and running today:
- If you already have UA installed and just need to upgrade, this article is for you
- If you don’t have any Google Analytics running on your site and want to get started, use this article
- If you’re more of a visual learner and would like a video tutorial, we’ve got you (or rather, Google’s got you) watch below: