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5 Things You Need to Know About GA4

October 15, 2021

Should you use Google Analytics 4—and its machine learning tools—for data collection about website user data and behavior while they’re on your site? From a marketing perspective, is it helpful to do so? We’re here to help answer your analytics-based questions. We’ve put together five main things you need to know about GA4. Read on to get to know how it works, and how it compares with the older Universal Analytics format.

1. What Is Google Analytics 4?

The previous versions of Google Analytics was simply referred to as Universal Analytics, and the older dashboard had a different feel to it than the new GA4 dashboard.
If you’re not at all familiar, Google Analytics is a free analytics tool provided by Google to help you collect data and insights about who comes to your website, what they do while they’re there, and what triggers actual conversions/sales. If you have used Universal Analytics before or for a while, you are probably used to collecting data in a certain way.
Both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 help you understand the customer journey in different ways. Understanding how these data points relate to each other can help you make smart marketing decisions and invest in marketing campaigns that extend the all-important customer lifecycle.

When Did Google Analytics Come Out?

Although GA4 came out in October 2020, many ecommerce marketers are still struggling to figure out where it fits into their overall marketing strategy.

So, What’s New in Google Analytics 4?

One of the big changes is that GA4 now analyzes user behavior based on “events” rather than “sessions.” It provides a more granular insight as to each action your app and website visitors take, rather than just getting an overall view of the time span of the time a visitor lands on your site until the time they leave.
Because of the drastic changes between metrics and data models for Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4, it will take some getting used to. However, the event tracking capabilities can help gain an enhanced understanding of your website traffic.

2. How Will It Help My Reporting?

You can use Google Analytics 4 to track users and create custom events—as well as gather data on automatically collected events.
Analytics data can be used to create reports that measure ecommerce events, which enable you to develop a more effective digital marketing strategy toward campaign ROI and possible website updates.

3. Should I Switch to Google Analytics 4?                                                                             

The answer to that can be tricky, and may depend on your unique situation. If you are a long-term user of Universal Analytics, you likely have built out custom reports for regular sessions. These may be tied to other data analysis systems that you use frequently.
Tossing that out, even in favor of enhanced metrics, may be unwise, if not foolhardy.
However, the enhanced measurement events recorded by Google Analytics 4 are so rich that it could make sense to set up a Google Analytics account and run it parallel to your Universal Analytics account.
You may want to opt to continue using what you already have, but implement fresh data points via GA4 for even more perspective.

4. Which Is Better for Business: Google Analytics 4 or Universal Analytics?

At this point, there is no need to make a hard switch from one to the other. You can use both side-by-side to enhance your customer funnel analysis in new, fresh ways—and still make the most of what you’re used to.
Following this strategy gives you time to test drive GA4, learn how it measures events, and what you can glean from its data collection. This way, you can use your existing event structure while simultaneously creating custom events as needed.
We recommend you try out these two different reporting systems and compare the different kinds of insights you get from each. Google Analytics 4 has a learning curve, and going this route gives you ample time to get over any technological hurdles.

5. What Are the Benefits of Google Analytics 4?

This all said, Google Analytics 4 has its share of benefits. These are some of the few it offers:

  • Just like Universal Analytics, it’s a very data-rich and free tool. Free is always good, especially considering the amount of data you can collect.
  • You can analyze and compare both website data and app data side-by-side, which significantly expands the number (and quality) of events you can track, analyze, and act on.
  • With GA4, you now have at least 35 different event parameters you can track, instead of the sole few within Universal Analytics. This offers insights into consumer behavior like never before.
  • Enhanced real-time reporting; you can view in real time all of the events of one customer visit for efficient, streamlined, and comprehensive reporting.

There’s no doubt that Google Analytics 4 offers even more insights about your customer journeys. We recommend a gradual approach to its use for training’s sake.

If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed By All of the Changes, Don’t Worry.

We can help you glean the most insight from your available SEO and data analysis tools if you’re having trouble with them. Give us a call today to connect and to schedule a free website audit!