Millions of businesses around the world rely on Google Analytics to better understand their online visitors and create optimal experiences for them. So it’s no surprise that when Google announced its latest iteration of analytics, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), marketers and business owners alike had some big questions.
While it was developed as a replacement for their current platform, Universal Analytics, users haven’t had to change over just yet. However, in March this year, Google announced that from July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will cease to exist and GA4 will be the only option going forward.
But don’t worry, there’s no need to freak out (well maybe have a little one!). This blog is here to fill you in on everything you need to know about the new GA4 and what to do next.
What is GA4 and why the switch?
Google Analytics is a tool that is used by almost 30 million websites in an effort to understand user behaviour and create the optimal user experience.
It has been evolving since its genesis. With the rise of mobile applications, shifts in consumer behaviour and the constant introduction of new privacy laws, this transition in the way we collect and review data is possibly quite timely and warranted.
Google Analytics 4 offers a more complete cross-channel view of the customer by combining the insights we all know and love from Universal Analytics, with the data model of Firebase, to deliver seamless insights and data-informed decision making.
For those that are new to the whole Google Analytics game, let’s break this down for you.
It all starts with a Google Analytics Property
To add a website to a Google Analytics account, you would need to create a property. A property is where your company’s online data goes to get processed by Google Analytics. Basically – it’s where the stuff happens in Google Analytics.
In Universal Analytics, a company with multiple platforms in which they want to track, e.g. an app and a website, would have just one account but with two distinct properties tracking each platform. With GA4, however, a business would only need one single property which would track the data for everything.
How does GA4 measure users?
Data gets into Universal Analytics from “cookie-based” tracking. A website with UA will send a cookie into the user’s web browser, allowing the platform to monitor and record web activity on the site in question during that user’s session on the site. This measurement approach is called the session-based model.
In GA4 properties, businesses can still see session data, but analytics collects and stores user interactions with your website or app as events. Events provide insight on what’s happening in your website or app, such as page views, button clicks, user actions or system events.
Events collect and send pieces of information that more fully specify the action the user took and also add further context to the event or user. This information could include things like value of purchase, the title of the page a user visited, or the geographic location of the user. Click here to read more about GA4 events.
So what happens to all my data on UA when GA4 comes in permanently?
As mentioned above, come July 1, 2023, UA will stop collecting data and businesses will have to start using GA4 to track data.
Unfortunately, the data cannot be transferred over. So if you leave it until the cutoff date before you start using GA4, you won’t have any historical data to compare it to.
Start tracking with GA4 now
Don’t worry, there is a solution! We recommend installing GA4 now and running it alongside your current UA so that come July 1 2023, you will have almost a full year’s worth of data as a benchmark.
Not to mention, GA4 is a lot more than just an upgrade to UA, it’s basically a whole new version, so it will take some time to get used to. If you start using it now, you’ll be an expert by next year!
A word of caution, we do not recommend just using GA4 right now. Whilst it does have some amazing new features, there are many things that are not quite ready for everyday use. Many tools aren’t ready to be integrated with GA4.
We are recommending that you run concurrent analytics whilst Google rolls out a few more tweaks. Plus it gives us a chance to get across all the details and then conduct a few workshops for you as well. It is VERY different.
How we can help you
Here at Adventure Digital we have already installed the new GA4 properties into all of our retainer client’s websites and are using both the current version and the new version to track how their sites are performing. And we can do the same for you.
For a one-off fee of $195 (+ GST) per account, we would:
- Create and configure a new GA4 property
- Install it into your existing website
- Connect it with your existing Google Universal Analytics account
- Connect it to Google Search Console
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, get in touch today, we’d love to help you on this journey!