07th March 2023

GA4 for dummies.

by Maja

Goodbye, Universal Analytics

Last year, Google announced that it would be replacing Universal Analytics (UA) with a new-and-improved service: Google Analytics 4 (GA4). In short, it’s an upgraded analytics tool that allows you to measure traffic, monitor engagement and better understand user behaviour across your website.

By 1st July 2023, everyone will have to make the switch, either by creating a GA4 property yourself or letting Google automatically create one for you – unless, of course, you decide to opt out. Alternatively, you could switch right now. Confused? Probably. Despite all the explainer articles out there, GA4 still feels like a bit of a black box. In this blog, we take a look at the timeline for GA4 and the main updates you can expect.

What are the key dates for GA4?

  • March 2023: Unless you opt out, you’ll get a shiny new GA4 property – either created by yourself or automatically by Google.
  • Until 1st July 2023: You can continue using UA as normal.
  • On 1st July 2023: UA properties will no longer process data.
  • After 1st July 2023: You’ll still have access to your UA reports for a while. Exactly how long for, nobody knows – Google is yet to confirm this (so you’d be wise to export your historical data sooner rather than later). From this date, all new data will flow only into GA4 properties.

What’s different about GA4?

  • New data: Unlike UA which uses session-based data, GA4 uses event-based data.
  • Different measurement model: UA is based on page views and hits. In simple terms, a hit is basically a cluster of user interactions. For example, a couple of pageviews and an eCommerce transaction. GA4, on the other hand, looks at events and parameters. If you’re feeling brave, you can read up on the extent to which you can compare UA and GA4 metrics, but if you boil it down, what were once ‘hits’ in UA are now events in GA4.
  • No more bounce rate: This UA metric has been replaced by “engagement rate” focusing on the number of engaged interactions. If you do find yourself missing the good old bounce rate – this will simply be the percentage of sessions that were not engaged sessions (i.e. the ones that lasted less than 10 seconds).
  • The rise of Google Tag Manager: Unlike with UA, Google Tag Manager has become pretty crucial in GA4. Why? Because all goals are now event-based and while in the past it was possible to still measure some of those without GTM in place, it won’t be the case now.

What’s new about GA4?

  • Better customisation: Expect more advanced options and a lot more of them.
  • Anomaly detection: Anomaly detection is available on most line charts. It’s a handy tool for spotting statistical differences in your data.
  • Predictive analytics: UA doesn’t lend itself to predictive analytics. You either need to pay for a separate tool or create one yourself. The good news is, GA4 is hot on predictive analytics. You can see everything from churn probability and likely top spenders to purchase probability and a whole lot more.
  • …and more!

We’re here to help you

If you’re one of our clients under Site Care, the good news is, you don’t have to figure GA4 out on your own. While Google will create your new GA4 account automatically, our expert team will audit it, making sure it’s set up correctly with all the data you need.

With every website launch, our Site Care clients get a bespoke Google Data Studio (GDS) dashboard, which we set up and maintain for them. With the new GA4 in place, we’ll make sure all your tags and events are carried over and set up correctly and updated on your GDS dashboard accordingly, allowing you to get the most out of your data.

So…

Whether we like it or not, GA4 is coming. Is that a good thing? We think so. Enhanced capabilities, more insightful data and predictive analytics as standard. It’s basically a more grown up version of UA. So while it might feel like another Google-shaped hurdle to clear right now, it’ll be worth it. And as with most new Google products, a baptism of fire is usually the best way to learn. Our two cents? Switch to GA4 now and start getting to grips with the new features. And sit back and enjoy the mass hysteria on 1st July.

 

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