We have all been using Google’s Universal Analytics platform to help our businesses measure their website and marketing performance for years.
But that’s about to change as Google introduces a new analytical platform, GA4, starting July 1st, 2023.
On that date, your Universal Analytics account will no longer process new data. So, it’s a good time to make the switch to GA4.
The purpose of GA4 remains the same as its predecessor. To help you understand your website performance and how users find and interact with your marketing efforts.
So, what is GA4 like? What more do you get?
Google positions GA4 as a tool to help improve marketing Return on Investment (ROI) in the long run.
What makes GA4 different is how it collects and handles data.
GA4 brings website and mobile app data together so people who use both can better understand their audiences.
GA4 offers a lot of new reports with metrics that tell you whether or not you are hitting your marketing goals.
The big changes
One of the main things that has changed in GA4 is you’ll be looking at ‘users’ and ‘events’, rather than ‘sessions’. Everything in Universal Analytics was ‘sessions’, for example, page sessions and length of sessions and so on. Now each interaction, each thing that someone does on your website is an event.
An event allows you to measure a distinct user interaction on a website or app. For example, loading a page, clicking a link, and completing a purchase are all interactions you can measure with events
With GA4, you can:
- get overviews of how users landed on your website.
- view the different actions people have taken after they’ve reached your website.
- review general demographic and device information about your audience.
GA4 also enables you to create more-targeted audience segments for your marketing campaigns based on events, which isn’t an option with Universal Analytics.
This means you’ll be able to hone in on users and their interactions without having to divide the data by platform type or device. You can also add in the concept of time and analyse things such as the time users spent between the different customer journey stages.
Whenever you publish a new audience segment, it’s automatically shared to your Google Ads account, which manes it very easy to run campaigns with precision-targeted audiences.
If you have an ecommerce business, you have access to plenty of great insights too.
And there’s more…
Outside the report section of your account, you can view advertising specific data, visualize the metrics you’ve gathered, and dive deeper into your performance with AI.
Because it’s AI-driven, GA4 helps you better predict audiences that have a higher chance of converting.
On your analytics dashboard, you will see a snapshot, a little bit of everything in terms of your data.
Then under that, you can view site information in real time.
This is great if you’re opening the cart to a new offer, if you have a product launch, or if you just released a YouTube video and want to see the traffic you can watch it in real time.
In the Life Cycle/Acquisition report you can see how people are getting to your site, whether it’s organic search, paid search, or social video referral.
Then you have the Engagement report which gives an insight into how long users spend on your website or app. This enables you to pinpoint which pages and screens were the most visited and had the most triggered events.
In the Engagement report you can change the time frame you’re looking at. You could check engagement during the last month, quarter or year. Seeing what content users are interested in can help you plan next year’s content.
The Explore tab shows you explorations or graphs of your content.
With Path exploration data, you can view how peoples’ journeys as they click through the pages on your site.
New data attribution means you’ll be able to evaluate the value of each ad click, as you track customer interactions with your paid ads.
And then you have the Monetization and Retention reports.
Monetization reports provide information on the revenue you generate from the items, ads, and subscriptions on your website or mobile app.
The Retention topic helps you understand how frequently, and for how long, users engage with your website or app after their first visit. It also helps you see how valuable users are, based on the additional revenue you generate after their first visit.
GA4 business benefits
By transitioning to GA4, you’ll be able to start collecting historical data and tracking metrics relevant to your business in a way that provides a new, deeper understanding of your audience’s data and behaviour.
If your ad strategy is cross-channel and cross-platform, the only way to get a holistic view of traffic and performance centralised in one place is Google Analytics 4.
There are definitely more in-depth features to look at, but if you’re new to GA4, you should think about getting advice.
So how do I transition to GA4?
If you have a Universal Land Oaks account already, you can go into your admin settings and use a GA4 Set-up Assistant to get the job done.
If you don’t have any sort of analytics account, you need to add the analytics tag to your website. The tag is a little piece of code that makes it possible for data to go from your website to GA4.
Depending on your setup, you may add the tag directly to your website and put some details into a content management system or use Google Tag Manager to get things implemented.
And always remember, the experts at IHM are always on hand.