You ever go onto your website and wonder how to track who’s coming to your site? Who’s clicking links or submitting form requests? Or wonder how user-friendly your site is?
Well, Google Analytics (GA) answers all these questions by simply being connected to your website.
For years, they’ve used Universal Analytics (UA), and recently they have been integrating a much more simple variation called Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
In July 2023, Google will no longer use Universal Analytics and only be using Google Analytics 4 (GA4), an upgraded analytics platform that enables you to measure traffic and engagement across your websites and apps. In this blog, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about GA4, including what it is, why you should update to it, what’s happening with the current Universal Analytics, and new features and key benefits in GA4.
What is GA4?
Google Analytics 4 is the latest analytics platform from Google. GA4 allows you to measure both traffic and engagement on your website along with apps that your company may use. These analytics can be used to gain a better understanding of the customer journey, and improve your overall website and digital presence, ensuring that they are properly optimized. Starting in July of 2023, GA4 will be the default and the ONLY Google Analytics tracking option.
What’s Happening to Google’s Universal Analytics?
The current version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics) will no longer be supported starting in July 2023. So, if you have a current website you’ll need to migrate over to GA4 and if you’re planning on building a website in the near future, GA4 will be your analytics platform by default.
Universal Analytics was built for a different generation, designed for desktops, sessions and cookies. This methodology is becoming obsolete as GA4 will focus on multi-platform functionality and user-centric measurement; meaning you’ll be able to understand your website’s users/visitors better.
What’s New in GA4?
There are many new features to be excited about in GA4. Let’s get into it:
Event Based Tracking
The most basic events are tracked by default in GA4 and you can easily create new events to track directly. You’ll no longer need developers every time you need an event tracked!
With GA4’s machine learning algorithms and AI technology, you’ll now be able to efficiently and accurately calculate revenue predictions, conversion probabilities and average churn rates from gathered data, allowing you to forecast more accurately than before.
Updated Reporting and Dashboards
GA4 integrates enhanced visualizations and imagery that make real-time data analysis more accessible and engaging.
Improved Privacy Controls
GA4 focuses on data privacy and provides updated privacy features that will help users comply more easily with data privacy laws, specifically with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). There could be an entirely separate blog post about the improved privacy controls within GA4. For this blog, we’ll focus on a few important privacy updates.
1. IP Anonymization
The previous version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics) collected users’ IP addresses by default. This was breaching a GDPR law since an IP address is considered personally identifiable information (PII) that is protected by the law. The IP anonymization had to be manually activated by users.
In GA4, IP anonymization is enabled by default and cannot be switched off. This means that GA4 will not store the IP addresses of users. From the GDPR perspective, this is considered the most important change in GA4, helping users to comply with the GDPR.
2. Data Storage Duration
Another important feature provided by GA4 is a much shorter data storage duration. In the previous GA version, you could choose to store collected data for up to 64 months. In GA4 you only have two options for personal data storage: 2 months or 14 months, depending on your analytical activities.
What Are the Key Benefits of GA4?
Now that we have covered some of the main new features of GA4, let’s talk about why you should care. What are the benefits of GA4?
Understanding the Customer Journey
Rather than being limited to sessions and pageviews and fragmented data, GA4 now allows you to have a complete understanding of the customer lifecycle. One of GA4’s goals is to keep the collected data in one convenient place. Now it will be easier to analyze and measure data from your website/s and app/s to help make proactive and reactive decisions without having to pull and analyze multiple reports on different pages.
A Complete Customer Journey
Data-driven attribution helps you identify how your customer came to make a purchase, and will analyze all searches, clicks, and more to help identify a complete customer journey. Historically, conversion credit goes to the last ad clicked, but the final ad may have only played a small role in converting the customer. Data-driven attribution provides unique insights into the decision-making process and will help you organize your marketing effort to deliver a greater ROI.
GA4 is an exciting update for organizations to make better-informed business decisions to help improve overall ROI. However, there will be a learning curve that comes with GA4. We recommend that you migrate from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4 sooner rather than later, so that when July 2023 comes around, you’re not scrambling and learning at the last minute.
With all the new features, GA4 can be a little intimidating when getting started. If you need any help setting up GA4, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.