Six things you need to know about Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 is the next generation of Google Analytics. This is not simply a new version; it’s a new way to track and present data. Google’s goal is to provide more predictive analytics and display those through better data visualization.

This change is in addition to Google’s Helpful Content Update.

So, why the switch? As you may have heard, we are moving toward a future where sites cannot rely on third-party cookie data for insights. GA4 uses new ways to identify your web visitors through first-party data. Users won’t be identified by categories such as name, email or phone number. Instead, users will be identified by certain demographics, geography and their intent and actions.

Google is focused on better tracking by aggregating a company’s data to give a clearer picture of its online presence. This provides insights into how users journey through platforms. The previous Google Analytics (Universal Analytics) only hinted at potential trends under the Insights section.

GA4 will provide site managers with a greater ability to detect trends and forecast. The new “View All Insights” on the homepage provides an entire insights report on metrics around your week-over-week performance, as well as what efforts drove the most conversions and revenue.

Without GA4, it will be difficult for your business to attract, grow and retain customers.  GA4 also will offer enhanced insights so you can track details such as clicks, video views, downloads, site searches and page scrolling. It will predict insights such as likely top spenders, purchases and the probability of purchase.

If you created your website before October 14, 2020, you likely are using the older Universal Analytics, so you should check your web properties to determine how GA4 affects you.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • Deadline for the switch. The old UA will stop tracking on July 1, 2023. Until then, you can continue to use and collect data but the new GA4 will not pull in metrics from the older UA property.
  • Export your historical data. Since GA4 will not import your previous data, you should begin exporting your historical reports. You will have until the end of 2023 to complete this. By having this data, you can compare it to the new insights captured by GA4.
  • Set up your new GA4 account now. The sooner you begin tracking in the new platform, the more data and insights you will have. You will not be able to migrate your old reports, so if you begin now, you will have more metrics to use and guide your efforts. Don’t forget to import your Google Ads links too.
  • Get familiar with GA4. This new first-party data tracking comes with new metrics. Instead of session-driven insights, GA4 will move to an event-driven model. Of note, a site’s bounce rate has been replaced by an engagement rate. Companies should consider their business needs as they start structuring their GA4 properties and accounts.
  • You can dig deeper. Companies will be able to analyze the customer journey and data around how they acquire users. You will also be able to monitor their engagement, retention and revenue generation. This new insight provides a more comprehensive view of the customer journey, which should translate into better return on investment.
  • No more unlimited data retention. GA4 will only retain 14 months of historical data. In contrast, UA allowed unlimited retention. This means you will have to be diligent about pulling and storing the prior year’s data.

GA4 will significantly benefit companies and improve their marketing performance, but this requires a shift from old processes and strategies. I believe those who take the time to understand the power of this new platform will reap the rewards.

These big changes are in direct response to the user’s demand for quality and privacy. Are you ready to harness their power?

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