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Do You Need to Switch to Google Analytics 4? (Yes, and here’s why.)

Google Analytics is a tool to monitor website performance and identify areas for improvement for the entirety of the customer journey.

It’s official: You must switch to Google Analytics 4 by July 2023.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics (GA) is Google’s web analytics platform that enables you to track and analyze your website traffic.

 

With the data from Google Analytics, you can see and try to figure out:

  • How many users are visiting your website
  • What channels are website visitors coming from? Organic? Social? Paid ads?
  • How long are people spending on each page?
  • Which pages are performing the best, which ones are the worst? Why?
  • What are the demographics of your visitors?
  • …and so much more
This platform is where many digital marketing metrics and terms originate, such as Bounce Rate, Sessions, Time on Page, etc. You will be able to compare these data metrics by day, Month-Over-Month, or Year-Over-Year. So if you have a website, you should have Google Analytics already in place!

 

Google Analytics is an essential digital marketing tool when it comes to website optimization. Through data insights, you will be able to:

  • Optimize your content
  • Identify website issues to improve user experience
  • Understand your customers better
Think about your target audience’s journey from top-of-the-funnel to the end: how you can optimize your website to deliver a consistent user experience and drive more traffic and sales?

 

Consistently reviewing Google Analytics and making optimizations is how you build a high-converting website people will want to visit again and again.

Now, let’s move on to the main question of the day in the next section!

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a new kind of property in Google Analytics. It was previously known in its beta phase as “App + Web”, but is now the default version of Google Analytics (GA).

The original Google Analytics as we know it is called Universal Analytics, and it only supports tracking websites.

On the other hand, Google Analytics 4 tracks both website and app data. That means on the GA4 platform, you will see different reports unique from Universal Analytics.

Google shared this clip on getting started with GA4:

Here is a video walkthrough of the Google Analytics 4 User Interface:

Now, when you create a new property on Google Analytics, by default, the option would be to create GA4 only as seen here:
If you click on Advanced Options, you could still create a Universal Analytics property. However, you can see Google states that they do not recommend users use Universal Analytics.
In the next section, we’ll talk about what differentiates Google Analytics 4 from its former version.

What’s New with Google Analytics 4?

The creation of GA4 is Google’s shift to a “privacy-first” approach to cross-channel data tracking. The goal is to focus on the user and their journey.

With GA4, marketers will be able to track users across your website, software, and app.

Predictive Data & Metrics

Powered by Google’s AI machine learning, GA4 will leverage artificial intelligence to fill in the gaps and connect the dots of user behavior and website data without relying on traffic hits on each webpage (cookie tracking).

 

What if you could predict which users have the highest chance of making a purchase next month? What if you could also predict how much revenue they would purchase?

With GA4, it will provide predictive metrics so marketers can give them a “push” to convert! These metrics include: purchase probability, revenue prediction, and churn probability.

These are some examples:

  • A user who was active in the last 28 days who will buy in the next 7 days
  • Expected revenue in the next 28 days from a user who has been active in the last 28 days
  • How likely a user (who was previously active in the last 7 days) will become inactive in the next 7 days

The more data you have of user behavior on your website and app, the better the predictive audience analysis will be.

You’ll be able to utilize these metrics and create segments of predictive audiences. Say hello to highly-targeted campaigns, even with the inevitable future of no more cookie tracking.

 

Events

A primary metric for GA4 is events. When users interact with your website or app, events are triggered and tracked. This could be page views, button clicks or form submissions, etc.

A lot of these events are collected by default. There are Automatically Collected Events and also “enhanced measure events”, which can be collected if you enable the option. This can be done through the Admin Page within the GA4 property.

On the other hand, if you need to track more advanced data, you could add code to track custom events. Google Analytics offers a guide on how to modify or create events with the user interface.

For advanced data, Analytics Help categorizes them into Recommended Events and Custom Events.

Recommended Events would be implemented on the user’s end, but possess pre-defined names and parameters set by Google. You can look at the whole list of Recommended Events for all properties, online sales, and games by Google here.

Custom Events are named and implemented on the user end. Note, it’s important to double-check if any other events already track what you want, or you might end up with duplicate data!

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics give you insight into how long users spend on your website or app. By tracking it, you will be able to pinpoint which pages and screens were the most visited and had the most triggered events.

An engaged session lasts for at least 10 seconds and has at least one conversion event or involves two page views.

You’ll be able to figure out which pages are performing well and have content holding users’ attention. You can then look at your pages with low engagement and make optimizations.

Direct Integration to Big Query

Direct integration was previously only available to Google Analytics 360. Google Analytics 360 is the enterprise tool version of GA, which enables advanced tools such as data-driven attribution and BigQuery exports.

BigQuery is a fully-managed enterprise data warehouse that helps manage and analyze data. It allows marketers to turn big data into valuable insights for their business. It also features built-in machine learning functionalities.

Having this tool now integrated into GA4 will give you an edge to decipher data!

This video gives you a quick summary:

Unsampled Data & Reports

Another feature that was previously only available for Google Analytics 360 is unsampled data.

Now, any business with a GA4 property will get unsampled data without needing an enterprise account.

Google Analytics samples your reports based on the number of sessions you have.

You might see a disclaimer at the top of your report that says something like, “This report is based on X sessions”. This means the report is based on sampled data. Sampling happens automatically if a report is collecting more than 500,000 sessions.

The reason for this is that Google processes A LOT of data every day. To process data quickly and achieve the best they can with accuracy and speed, they randomly sample a portion of your traffic data.

Here’s a visual example of sampling from Supermetrics:

This means that samples don’t necessarily represent the full picture. For example, you ran two campaigns side to side: A and B. Campaign A achieved a 7% conversion rate, whereas Campaign B had an 11% conversion rate. You might easily conclude that Campaign B was the winner. However, the sampling used by Google Analytics might mean that it doesn’t represent the whole story, and there might not be an actual difference between the two campaigns.

Now, with Google Analytics 4, your data and reports will be unsampled by default.

 

Expended Segmentations

GA4 enables you to create more-targeted audience segments for your marketing campaigns. You can now create segments based on events, which isn’t an option for UA. This means you’ll be able to hone in on users and their interactions without having to divide it up by platform type or device. You can add in the concept of time and analyze things like the time users spent between the different customer journey stages.

Whenever you publish a new audience segment, it is automatically shared to your Google Ads account, which means running campaigns with precision-targeted audiences is as easy as 1-2-3.

Benefits of Google Analytics 4?

Now that you get an idea of how Google Analytics 4 works, let’s talk about some of the benefits of implementing it.

Google positions it as a tool to help improve marketing Return on Investment (ROI) in the long run. They say that GA4 enables marketers to uncover actionable insights that are privacy-safe for the entire customer journey.

  • GA4 will reveal a more holistic view of your entire customer life cycle. You won’t have to depend on paid cross-channel attribution.
  • GA4 will bridge the data between app and website.
  • You can track user data with or without identifiers or cookies (which is good because third-party cookies will be phasing out soon), even if you have gaps in your data.
  • You’ll be able to collect more granular and correct information as it won’t depend on Cookies like Universal Analytics.
  • Because it’s AI-driven, it helps you better predict audiences that have a higher chance of converting.
  • New data attribution means you’ll be able to evaluate the value of each ad click as you track customer interactions with your paid ads.
  • You’ll be able to get deeper insights into your users and their journey.

How Do I Set Up Google Analytics 4?

If you want to try out GA4, here are the ways to set them up on different are 3 different ways to set it up. For all options, you will need to have Editor-level access to your Google Analytics account.

Option A. Adding GA4 to a site that already has Analytics

  1. Click on GA4 Set-Up Assistant
  2. Create a GA4 property that collects data simultaneously as your existing Universal Analytics property
  3. Your original property is left unchanged and will continue to collect data.
  4. You will be able to access it through the Admin panel or property selector.

Option B. Set up GA4 and Universal Analytics on a new site

  1. You will set up a GA4 property that will collect data alongside Universal Analytics
  2. It will establish a connection between the two properties
  3. You will be able to migrate configuration settings from your Universal Analytics property to your GA4 later on

Set up a new site on a Google Analytics 4 property. Do this if you are ready to rely on Google Analytics 4 reporting.

See here for Google’s step-by-step guide.

Do I Need to Switch to Google Analytics 4?

The answer is: yes.

Google is retiring the older version of Google Analytics in July 2023.

Marketers, don’t drag your feet any longer. It’s happening sooner than you think. The sooner you get it set up, the more time you’ll have to get familiarized with its capabilities and interface.

Plus, you’ll be able to start collecting historical data and tracking metrics relevant to your business in the new form. That way, you’ll get a deeper understanding of your audience’s data and behavior.

If your ad strategy is cross-channel and cross-platform, the only way to get a holistic view of traffic and performance centralized in one place is Google Analytics 4.

How Do I Get Started with Google Analytics 4?

Here at War Room, we aim to be the frontrunner for industry trends and algorithm updates.

Our team has proactively educated ourselves on the benefits of GA4 in the past year. We are now happy to announce our services for this transitional implementation.

A. Google Analytics 4 Setup

Our team can help you properly set up and implement your new or existing Google Analytics account in this service.

This includes:

  • Tracking IDs
  • View & Data Streams
  • Event Tracking set-ups, and automation
  • User and event data retention
  • eCommerce tracking
  • Cross-device & cross-platform tracking
  • Attribution modeling
  • Custom Dimensions and Report set-up and more
Additional Add Ons Include:
  • Enhanced e-commerce tracking
  • Google Tag Manager (GTM) Server Setup
  • GA4 Web
  • GA4 Server Container
You can pick and choose which option best fits your business needs!

B. Google Analytics 4 Set Up & Implementation

Does your business have a website and an app? In this option, we will help you create a GA4 account from scratch and set it up so you can begin eCommerce data tracking.

C. Google Analytics 4 eCommerce Migration & Set-Up & Tracking

This package includes migrating eCommerce data from Universal Analytics to GA4. We’ll export your data and migrate it accurately into your existing GA4 account!

We also provide enhanced eCommerce tracking. Connect with us to learn more.

D. Google Analytics Setup and Configuration

We will set up your Google Analytics account and take care of the configuration. True data integrity starts here.

Check out our Advertising Institute for our latest digital marketing resources.
Or, fill out the form below, and let’s discuss how we can support you with advertising and data!

Get Google Analytics 4 Set Up Properly

…and start collecting valuable audience data to advance your campaign performance!
Connect with one of our experts today and learn how we can help.

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