Over the years, marketers and business owners have relied on Universal Analytics (UA) as their primary platform to gain insights into user behavior and measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.
UA offers a range of powerful features, allowing users to:
- Utilize a single user ID to track all user activities.
- Configure analytics in various ways to suit their needs.
- Implement different tracking codes for deeper user insights.
- Access offline data for a comprehensive view.
- Create custom metrics tailored to their specific requirements.
Despite its many advantages, UA has limitations, particularly its heavy focus on the desktop web environment, which restricts its effectiveness in today’s multi-platform digital landscape. To address the evolving needs of users and shifting measurement standards, Google introduced Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a more robust tool designed to adapt to the changing ecosystem.
In this article, we delve into the details of the GA4 upgrade, aiming to answer two critical questions: “What is GA4?” and “Should you transition to Google Analytics 4?” To accomplish this, we will explore the differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics and outline the reasons why transitioning to GA4 is a wise choice.
What Is GA4?
GA4 represents a cross-platform analytics solution that empowers users to measure and track data from websites and apps. It serves as the latest iteration of Google’s popular analytics platform, offering enhanced capabilities to take control of digital marketing campaigns.
GA4 was developed to address the limitations of UA, which was predominantly rooted in the desktop web environment. As users increasingly engage across multiple platforms, marketers require a more versatile solution to measure these experiences and gain deeper insights into user behavior.
As a next-generation measurement tool, GA4 provides unified tracking capabilities for both apps and websites within a single Google Analytics integration. It revolutionizes how data is stored and processed compared to previous versions, enabling new methods of measurement and traffic analysis. Additionally, GA4 introduces advanced reporting features, offering comprehensive insights into user interactions with your website and app.
Google Analytics 4 Vs Universal Analytics
When comparing Google Analytics 4 to Universal Analytics, it’s crucial to understand that GA4 isn’t merely a rebranding of the old platform; it represents a complete overhaul and introduces numerous new features to enhance the analytics experience.
Here are some key differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics:
Event-Based Tracking Provides More Valuable Insights
With GA4, the platform shifts from tracking sessions and pageviews to tracking events, enabling a broader range of user actions to be monitored. This approach offers context on user interactions with your website or app, such as tracking when a user completes reading a blog (via a scroll event) or checks out a product (via a click event). Furthermore, you can create custom events to track additional interactions.
Enhanced Search Bar Offers Quick, Detailed Insights
The search bar in GA4 goes beyond providing access to pre-generated reports; it offers powerful functionality that delivers specific information based on various search queries. For example, you can inquire about the net difference in page visits over time, and the answer is presented directly in the search results without the need for additional clicks. Additionally, the search bar provides access to Google Support documentation, aiding users in completing tasks efficiently.
Expanded Customization Options
While Universal Analytics allows customization of certain elements, GA4 takes customization to a higher level. It enables the creation of complex events that track highly specific actions within a single GA4 property. For instance, if you integrate Google Ads, you can track the number of users who make a purchase after clicking on your ad and reading a blog. Moreover, GA4 permits the customization of dashboards with up to 50 custom insights, delivering essential information about user behavior.
Integration with Other Apps
GA4’s event-based tracking capabilities make it possible to monitor all the metrics that matter for a single GA4 property. Integration with various apps enhances data utilization, such as Google Ads integration for campaign performance insights (impressions, clicks, conversions), data export to Google BigQuery for further analysis, and the ability to use Structured Query Language (SQL) queries to extract deeper insights.
Machine Learning Analytics for Predictive Insight
GA4 goes beyond Universal Analytics by incorporating machine learning analytics to provide predictive insights into user behavior. It leverages data from user behavior, device usage, location, demographics, and other sources to train models and generate predictions about future user actions. These predictive capabilities continue to expand as GA4 evolves.
Upgrading to Google Analytics 4: A Necessity
You might be wondering whether you should make the transition to GA4 or stick with Universal Analytics. The truth is, transitioning to GA4 is not a matter of “if” but “when.” Google strongly recommends the switch, as Universal Analytics will lose support, and all data will be inaccessible on July 1, 2023 (or July 1, 2024, for Analytics 360 users).
Some might question the point of migrating to GA4 if historical data can’t be transferred. However, initiating the GA4 setup is crucial to start building historical data for your new property, ensuring you don’t miss out on valuable insights as the platform evolves.
How to Get Started With GA4
To begin with GA4, ensure you have editor or administrator privileges, and then choose one of the following options:
1. Set Up Data Collection for the First Time
- Log in to your Google account or create one if you don’t have it.
- Visit the Google Analytics home page and click “Start measuring” to create your account.
- Fill out the necessary details to create your Analytics account.
- Create your first Google Analytics 4 property by entering a name, reporting time zone, and currency.
- Select your industry category, business size, and purpose for using Google Analytics.
- Accept the Terms of Service and Data Processing Amendment to complete the property creation.
Once your property is set up, you can add a data stream to specify the data source (iOS app, Android app, or Web).
2. Add Google Analytics 4 to a Website With Existing Universal Analytics
- Log in to your Google Analytics account.
- Access the Admin section.
- Under Property, select the UA property that collects your website’s traffic data.
- Click “GA4 Setup Assistant” and follow the instructions to create a new GA4 property or connect it to your existing UA tagging.
3. Add Google Analytics 4 to a Website Builder Platform or CMS
- Different website builder platforms and content management systems (CMS) have specific instructions for GA4 installation. Refer to Google’s Help page for platform-specific guidance.
Optimizing Your Digital Marketing Strategy With GA4
GA4 isn’t just a data collection and reporting tool; it’s a tool for optimizing your digital marketing strategy to achieve maximum results. Here are some essential tips for optimizing your strategy with GA4:
Create Triggers Based on Key Audience Milestones
Utilize GA4’s audience segmentation based on specific triggers like sign-ups, searches, content streaming, tutorial completion, wishlists, and cart abandonment. These triggers provide valuable insights into user interactions and the customer journey, helping you refine your marketing efforts.
Enable Enhanced Measurement
Activate enhanced measurement to automatically track events like form interactions, file downloads, video views, and more. This feature provides valuable data for understanding user engagement.
Track microconversions, which are smaller user engagements that occur before a primary conversion, such as viewing a product page or adding items to a cart. Assign monetary values to these microconversions to gauge their impact on your bottom line.
Custom Reporting for Deeper Insights
Leverage GA4’s enhanced reporting capabilities, including predefined report collections tailored to your business’s needs. Customize these reports, adjust dimensions, apply filters, and optimize date ranges to gain deeper insights into user behavior.
Improve Your Reporting With Google Analytics Experts
Transitioning to Google Analytics 4 and making the most of its capabilities can be a complex task. Consider enlisting the expertise of Google Analytics experts, like Leadshouse, a leading digital marketing agency and service provider.
Leadshouse offers Google Analytics setup services to help you seamlessly migrate to GA4 and unlock its full potential. Our Google Analytics consulting services can assist you in building data-driven digital marketing campaigns that enhance your reach and conversion rates.
Take the opportunity to optimize your digital marketing strategy with Leadshouse’s Google Analytics consulting services. Schedule a consultation today to learn how we can help your business thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape!