You’ve probably heard at least something about Google Analytics 4 – or the short version of GA4 – but what does it mean to you and your business?
Here’s a quick trip through GA4 and its key features with some helpful advice on how to prepare yourself before transitioning from the current Universal Analytics GA3 over to GA4.
First and foremost, GA4 is Google Analytics with some serious oomph.
As the next generation in Analytics, it uses event-based data (data that shows the behaviour of users) rather than session-based data (where every click, pageview, transaction, etc., is tracked only during a set period of activity or “Session” ) from both websites and apps.
What does that really mean?
By collecting data from both those sources, you get a better and more thorough understanding of the all-important customer journey.
GA4 has a special focus on each unique user who interacts with the website or app as one of Active users (even if a person is active multiple times in a day, they are only recorded once) and no longer uses the Total users in reports (all users, even duplicates).
While the term ‘Users’ is the same in both Universal Analytics and GA4, that new focus on active ones means that GA4 reporting is significantly more accurate.
It is the cross-device insights that are some of the strongest advantages of GA4.
By being able to measure each customer journey across both website and mobile apps, you will get a better understanding of that journey and be able to improve the user experience.
You can also identify the number of users who begin the buying journey on a mobile app before visiting your website to complete their purchase.
With the improved set of metrics, GA4 tracks user engagement with your website or app more accurately than the ‘page views’ and ‘bounce rate’ of the GA3 metrics.
These metrics include any interactions with your site or app in the form of:
- Engaged Sessions (where a user has made more than one pageview or performed an action such as filling in a contact form)
- Engaged Sessions per user
- Engagement Rate (the percentage of each engaged session)
- Average Engagement Time
There is the built-in ‘enhanced measurement’ feature which can save you time and money. This feature allows you to track certain events automatically without the need or cost for additional coding or tagging.
Is GA4 an important step?
The most important thing to know is that GA4 is more than an upgrade. It is a total re-platforming. It gives you ownership of data like never before.
You will now have data stored in a way that gives you better access to it and is no longer on Google servers or behind Google Analytics interface.
That is a powerful thing.
Does this mean that it will all come at a large cost?
The good news is GA4 will still be FREE up to a certain tier (*up to a million hits recorded per month).
The difference is that the storage of data will only last for 13 months, after which time you’ll need to have it safely stored outside of the platform. This will incur storage costs, but these are not cost prohibitive and it’s important to remember it’s worth having data that is more accurate than ever before and is much easier to access.
A clearer view of your customers
The problem with the previous version of analytics was in having marketing data that was messy, confusing and simply didn’t line up. There was no clear way to market effectively with different streams of data reporting individual data performance.
GA4 fixes that and allows you to streamline your marketing while giving you significantly clearer insights.
There will be no reason to shed a tear about saying goodbye to GA3, but you have until the 1st of July of 2023 before it stops collecting data.
Reports will still be available through to January 2024, but then it’s curtains and GA3 will be shut down forever.
Remember, you will get a better snapshot of your customers and what is really going on with your online efforts with GA4. It’s not all smooth sailing though.
User defined goals like contact, email, and eCommerce tracking can be brought into GA4, but it’s not seamless. That is a worry!
Unless you enlist the help of experts.
That’s why it pays to talk to the Mad Scientist team. We can help you perform to your best by taking a forensic look at what is really happening online for your business.
We’re here when you need us. Get in touch.