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The New Google Analytics 4 (GA4) – How Will It Help Your Business?

The New Google Analytics 4 – What Is It And How Will It Improve Your Online Business?

Google Analytics 4 was launched in October 2020 and is the fourth version of Google Analytics. It’s not quite a continuation of the previous version, Universal Analytics, as it is essentially an expanded and rebranded Google App + Web Analytics all-in-one, which came out in beta last year.

Why the change?

In a survey carried out by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Google in March 2020, marketers said that improving their use of analytics is a top priority and that existing solutions make it difficult to get a complete view of the customer and derive insights from their data. The survey’s key findings detailed:

  • Less than half of companies (43%) have unified cross-platform analytics capabilities, meaning that web and app customer interactions cannot be measured in one single solution. This leaves the customer journey disconnected, and prevents complete and accurate insights from being recorded.
  • Decision makers value privacy features above other analytics platform capabilities – they seek to protect consumer data and preserve trust.
  • The main use and benefit of digital analytics is for companies to understand and optimise customer experience. Data needs to be effectively leveraged to improve website user experience and customer retention.

With the survey’s findings in mind and Google’s own desire to continually improve its products, the new Google Analytics 4 solution aims to:

  • Allow real-time event tracking without the need for additional fiddly code. Event tracking now includes page scrolls and video plays.

Automated enhanced event tracking

  • Extensively integrate with Google Ads and all other Google products. Marketers can create more granular audiences that, once deployed, will achieve more relevant and helpful marketing experiences.
  • Provide a seamless cross-device tracking and measurement solution so you can understand the holistic impact of your marketing efforts. Customers’ app and web interactions can now show combined conversions from YouTube video views alongside conversions from Google and non-Google paid channels, and organic channels like Google Search, email and social.
  • Share smarter insights to improve marketing decisions, using machine learning to automatically surface helpful insights, trends and complete understanding of users across all devices and platforms.
  • Be privacy-centric by design while filling in the gaps left by the loss of cookies and user tracking.
  • Explain customers’ ever-changing behaviour across their entire lifecycle, from acquisition to conversion and retention. Reporting has been reorganised and simplified so marketers can tap into marketing insights based on the part of the customer journey they’re interested in.
  • Ultimately, to produce a better ROI from marketing in the long-term.
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YouTube Engaged-view conversions in Analytics reports

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A more advanced solution with prediction and action in mind

With GA4’s advanced machine learning, marketers are able to anticipate their customers’ behaviour like never before, identifying and predicting business-critical insights such as customer churn risk and potential revenue from a specific customer group.

Churn probability in the Analysis mode

Google Analytics 4 Q&As

We’ve discussed the many benefits of deploying Google’s new GA4 but there are many questions that still need addressing. Our quick-fire Q&A guide should hopefully shed some light on some of these.

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Is Google Analytics 4 suitable for you and should you implement it?

The only requirement is for you to have a website so the very likely answer is ‘yes’! Whether you have already implemented Google Analytics or Universal Analytics on your website, or are yet to add Analytics code to your website, you can go ahead and either create a Google Analytics 4 property from your existing GA/UA account or create a Google Analytics 4 account and profile from scratch.

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How do you upgrade an existing Google Analytics or Universal Analytics?

When you access your Analytics account, you will see the following message:

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Head over to your ‘Admin’ and then ‘Upgrade to GA4’ to get started setting up your GA4 property.

Note: this walkthrough is only suitable if your UA code has been hardcoded on your site. If you have implemented code via Google Tag Manager (GTM) you will need to create a new GTM GA4 tag and add your tracking measurement ID.

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Select ‘Get Started‘ and follow each step:

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(!) Error message: Can’t enable data collection using existing tags

If you use a website builder/CMS (e.g. Wix, etc) or your website is tagged with analytics.js (instead of gtag.js), the ‘Upgrade to GA4’ wizard could not reuse your existing tagging. You’ll need to add the Analytics tag yourself to begin seeing data in your new Google Analytics 4 property.

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Be sure to finish your GA4 property setup by reviewing and completing the settings and features available in ‘Setup Assistant’ for more comprehensive data and measurement capabilities. These include:

  • Configure Enhanced Measurement
  • Link Google Ads
  • Setup conversions, etc.

Just to name a few!

If you have not yet added any Analytics code to your website, you will automatically be directed to the GA4 setup. Once there, you have the option to create a standalone GA4 account, or you can create a GA4 account with a Universal Analytics account simultaneously. This option may be preferred by website owners or agencies well versed with earlier web management option while still getting to grips with GA4’s new user interface and capabilities. Simpy select ‘Show advanced options’ to implement both properties.

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Creating Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics properties

What does the GA4 interface look like, and what are the main differences?

You’ll need to spend a bit of time to master the new Google Analytics 4 navigation, groupings and features. ‘Audience’, ‘Acquisition’, ‘Behaviour’ and ‘Conversion’ have been replaced by groupings ‘Life Cycle’, ‘User’, ‘Events’, ‘Explore’ and ‘Configure’. These are designed to prioritise where your user fits within the consumer decision journey (CDJ) and impact how you’ll explore and measure user behaviour.

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Are there any downsides to the latest version of Google Analytics?

Aside from possibly feeling overwhelmed by the new user-interface and metrics, other options and reporting features may take some time to get used to. Changes have also been made to how traffic is measured, reporting and how goals are tracked. Once you upgrade, you may need to reconfigure your reporting and setup some of your goals again.

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Should I get rid of the older version?

As some features are still in beta, there may be some issues and bugs yet to be encountered and patched. We recommend that if you do upgrade, maintain your existing Google Analytics or Universal Analytics. You can then see which version works best for your business while upskilling yourself with GA4 knowledge. If you are adding new Analytics code to a site then consider opting into Universal Analytics, especially if you’re used to the previous version.

With many features yet to be rolled out, keeping your existing Analytics will help you reliably measure and report on your website and/or app in the meantime.

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Will previous versions of Google Analytics and Universal Analytics be sunset?

Don’t worry, the expiration date won’t be looming anytime soon! There’s no definite sunset date, but we believe that GA and UA users will have around 5 years before their versions become obsolete. Sunsetting these versions would mean that a high percentage of Analytics users would be forced to change their entire tracking implementation and data model.

Need a bit more help?

If you would like further information or guidance on Google’s new GA4, or you need help to upgrade or implement this product, then please get in touch by completing our ‘contact us’ form below. A member of our team will be happy to help!

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