Summary: Want to know how Google Analytics 4 differs from other versions and why you need to switch? Discover everything you need to know inside this guide.
Do you want to continue tracking how people interact with your website? Then you need to understand Google Analytics 4: what it is, how it differs from other versions of the product, and why you need to switch. Discover everything you need to know inside this guide.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics is an 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 behavior on every page of your site.
Just like any piece of software, Google Analytics has been updated as users’ needs have changed since its launch in 2005. From the era of Classic Google Analytics (GA1), updates led to GA2 and GA3; both referred to as Universal Analytics (UA). GA4 is the fourth and latest version, launched in 2020. But it’s not just another version of Google Analytics; it is actually a new product entirely – one meant to solve problems that have arisen since UA was released.
How Does Google Analytics 4 differ from Universal Analytics?
Track Website and Mobile Apps Together
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 separate property in Analytics for Firebase to measure your mobile app usage. This new edition of Google Analytics could be called “GA4 – formerly known as Google App+Web,” as it was called during its beta phase!
Because you can now monitor users across a website, apps, and software, you get a holistic view of how your customers interact with your business. In other words, cross-platform tracking lets you analyze your audience throughout the customer life cycle.
Ability to Track the Entire Customer Journey
To provide better insight into how users interact with your website and app, GA4 has made all measurements “events.” Now, because events track user interactions that cannot be examined as page views within a session, this gives you endless ways to better understand user behavior. Flexibility and data granularity leads to better-informed decisions and strategies.
Machine Learning Predicts Behavior
Not only does GA4 offer greater user-centric analysis tools, but it also includes predictive metrics. Thanks to Google’s machine-learning expertise, you can apply this enriched data to Google Ads, remarketing, social media marketing, and, yes, your website.
Overcomes Consent Management and Cookieless Tracking Challenges
Using AI to model missing information ensures you still benefit from valuable insights – even as the globe moves away from cookies and other identifying data. As a result, you can abide by new privacy protection laws (like the GDPR and CCPA) while still learning about your complete customer base.
Offers More Control and Customisation
With all these new possibilities, you will probably want to narrow down what you measure. GA4 lets you customize the dashboard to prioritize metrics important to your business. You can also integrate with Google Data Studio to generate custom visualizations.
View Data and Reports in a Fresh Way
To accommodate all these improvements, GA4 comes with a fresh new dashboard. Although getting comfortable with a new interface is always a bit of a pain, the changes promise to be worth it.
Some of the changes in Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics 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 aptly under “Lifecycle.“
- The search function provides the most valuable assistance – both while learning the new model and also for immediate answers to queries. Use it for some DIY Google Analytics 4 training – or speak to your local WSI digital marketing agency.
When Should I Switch to Google Analytics 4?
In March this year, Google announced that Universal Analytics would be discontinued on July 1st, 2023. What’s more, all your historical Universal Analytics data will be deleted in 2023.
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 while it is possible. First, this allows you to familiarise yourself with the functions and features of the new product.
Secondly, you can start populating your account with data for accurate and relevant machine learning insights.
For expert assistance setting up your Google Analytics 4 account correctly and fast, contact WSI today.
About the Author
Rick spent 20 years in the insurance industry in finance, primarily developing reporting platforms for B & C stakeholders. His ability to speak to consumers of data (managers and analysts) and translate their needs to programmers led him to start his own digital marketing agency in 2004 to develop data driven solutions for business owners.
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