As of July 1st 2023, GA4 was made the default version of Google Analytics and will be the sole option for analytics tracking.
If you need to ask yourself, ‘should I switch to GA4?’ then you’ve probably answered your own question. But if you’re wondering what GA4 is and why you need it, read on.
Introduction to GA4
Google Analytics is a free service that allows you to track any traffic and engagement that happens across your website and apps. GA4 is the new property that is available and will be replacing the former type of Universal Analytics. It was developed to better focus on customer privacy due to the recent implementation of privacy laws such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GA4 is the most advanced property out there as it allows privacy-first tracking, AI-driven predictive analytics, and cross-channel data measurement.
Google Analytics 4 v Universal Analytics
Universal Analytics (GA3) was the third major release of Google Analytics and has been the default workspace version for the better part of a decade since its implementation in 2012. With the introduction of mobile apps, machine learning and new legislation such as GDPR, this version was not designed for today’s analytical needs and expectations.
The major difference between the two versions is that GA4 will allow you to track analytics on both websites and applications, whereas Universal Analytics GA3 only allows you to track on websites. The measurement model is also different between the two, with GA4 using a new model that allows measurement of events and parameters all with an array of new metrics.
Making the Switch to GA4
With the introduction of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), many marketers and website owners wonder whether they should switch. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits and considerations of migrating to GA4 to help you make an informed decision.
- Simplified Goals and Events
With Google Analytics GA4 you are furnished with a suite of pre-made actions and events which previously required manual setup on Universal Analytics GA3. These pre-made actions and events include clicks, scroll behaviour, transactions, file downloads and user are first visits. Form submissions and e-commerce goals may not automatically be setup; however, the process has been simplified, now requiring much less time to implement than previous iterations of Google Analytics.
- Enhanced User Journey Tracking
One of the major advantages of GA4 is its improved user journey-tracking capabilities. Unlike its predecessor, Universal Analytics, GA4 adopts an event-based model that focuses on user interactions rather than page views.
This approach provides a more comprehensive view of user engagement across multiple devices and platforms. By capturing events like clicks, video plays, and downloads, GA4 offers valuable insights into how users interact with your website, enabling you to optimise the user experience and drive conversions.
- Cross-Device and Cross-Platform Tracking
In today’s mobile-centric world, tracking user behaviour across devices and platforms is crucial for understanding the customer journey.
GA4 addresses this challenge by offering enhanced cross-device and cross-platform tracking. It allows you to gain insights into how users move between devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and desktops. As well as track interactions across various platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and even offline events.
This holistic view enables you to tailor your marketing efforts and create seamless experiences for your audience.
- Machine Learning Capabilities
GA4 leverages the power of machine learning to provide valuable insights and predictions. It incorporates advanced analysis techniques, such as predictive modelling and anomaly detection, to help you identify trends, uncover hidden opportunities, and make data-driven decisions.
The machine learning capabilities of GA4 can assist in understanding user behaviour, predicting customer lifetime value, and optimising marketing campaigns for better results.
These features make GA4 a valuable tool for businesses seeking to leverage the power of data-driven marketing.
While GA4 offers several benefits, there are some considerations to keep in mind before making the switch:
- The Learning Curve
Migrating to GA4 involves a learning curve, as it introduces a new interface and data model.
Users familiar with Universal Analytics may require some time to adjust to the changes and learn the new features and functionalities. Adequate training and resources may be necessary to maximise the potential of GA4.
- Limited Reporting Features
As a relatively new platform, GA4 currently has limited reporting features compared to Universal Analytics.
Some of the familiar reports and features available in the previous version may not be readily accessible in GA4. However, Google continues to develop and expand GA4’s capabilities, and more features are expected to be added over time.
How to get started with Google Analytics 4
There are three ways to get started if you are an editor or administrator:
- Option 1: Set up Analytics data collection for the first time
Do this if you’re new to Analytics and ready to collect data for your website and/or app.
- Option 2: Add Google Analytics 4 to a site with Universal Analytics (Analytics “classic”)
The GA4 Setup Assistant will add a Google Analytics 4 property alongside your existing Universal Analytics property. Your Universal Analytics property will continue to collect data. You can access both using the property selector in the Admin area.
- Option 3: Add Google Analytics 4 to a website builder platform or CMS (content management system)
Do this if you use a CMS-hosted (Content Management System) website, e.g. a website created using Wix, WordPress, WooCommerce, Shopify, HubSpot, etc.
So should you switch the GA4?
Switching to GA4 can offer valuable insights and improved tracking capabilities for businesses looking to enhance their online analytics.
The enhanced user journey tracking, cross-device and cross-platform tracking, and machine learning capabilities makes GA4 a powerful tool for data-driven decision-making. However, it is important to consider the learning curve and the current limitations of GA4’s reporting features. Ultimately, the decision to switch to GA4 should be based on your business goals, resource availability, and the value it can bring to your analytics strategy.
Remember, staying updated with the latest analytics trends and platforms is essential in today’s digital world. GA4 presents an opportunity to leverage advanced analytics for a deeper understanding of your audience and better business outcomes.
Ready to unlock the full potential of your online analytics? Join us and make the switch to GA4 today.
Need some help? Our team is always on hand to help. Contact us today!