Diving into GA4
In July 2023 Universal Analytics will cease to exist… 🤯
It’s an update that has left many marketers scratching their heads after we’ve come to love the insights and plain-to-read data of Google’s Universal Analytics. It is essential to move to GA4 as early as possible to get your head around the many changes that have been made to this website data tool and to download and store any historical data that might be important to your company.
Confused? Overwhelmed? Want to cry? Don’t worry, we’re here to support you with this process and answer any questions you may have about GA4 and what this change to Analytics means for your business.
We know the world of Google Analytics and all things data can be overwhelming for those of you who aren’t held in a chokehold of all things acquisition, user behaviour and conversion tracking… But we’re here to break it down for you!
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a powerful and advanced analytics tool that helps businesses and website owners track and analyse their website’s performance. It offers enhanced features and capabilities compared to its predecessor, Universal Analytics.
First off, let’s dip our fins into the differences between Universal Analytics (UA) and GA4. While UA focuses more on sessions and page views, GA4 takes a wider view of the user journey, analysing events and user interactions across devices and platforms. Additionally, GA4 allows for better cross-device tracking, giving a better picture of how users navigate your website.
GA4 comes with many new and advanced features that represent a significant improvement from Universal Analytics. Not only has GA4 introduced new measurements such as ‘Engagement Rate’ (which will replace ‘Bounce Rate’), but it has also introduced enhanced privacy and data control.
As privacy protection continues to be a hot topic, GA4 has been built with enhanced user privacy and data control in mind.
So what are some of the most important updates of GA4 in comparison to Universal Analytics?
1. Events-Based Data Model: GA4 uses an events-based data model, which emphasises what users are doing on a website instead of the pages they’re visiting. This means that every user interaction, like button clicks, video views, and form submissions, is treated as an event in GA4. This approach allows marketers to gather more detailed and actionable data about user behaviour and level of engagement.
2. Advanced Machine Learning Capabilities: AI is the trending topic for our industry and GA4 leverages advanced machine learning algorithms to provide marketers with more accurate predictive metrics, audience insights, and attribution modelling. This feature will prove useful for marketers looking to understand customer behaviour and how it’s changing over time.
3. Integration with Google Ads: With advertisers previously seeing a data discrepancy between Google Ads and Google Analytics, GA4 provides seamless integration with Google Ads, allowing marketers to view ad data in GA4 and use the insights to optimise their campaigns. With this integration, marketers can now measure their ad revenue, cost-per-acquisition, and return on ad spend in GA4.
4. Cross-Device Tracking: GA4 provides better cross-device tracking than Universal Analytics. It uses data from Google Signals to gain demographic data such as age, gender and user interests. With the new privacy updates on iOS, this feature has seen a great reception from marketers.
5. Customisation and smarter insights: The latest version is designed to allow more flexibility and customisation of data collection. With GA4’s ‘Explore Reports’ and the many tagging features of Google Tag Manager, you can easily create customised dimensions and metrics, which can be changed on the fly without the need for additional coding. This feature provides more flexibility in how businesses collect and analyse data, enabling them to obtain a more comprehensive view of user behaviour.
GA4 may seem daunting and the update to the reports has delayed quite a few businesses from making the transition. However, we’re here to help you with our step-by-step guide.
To answer your question, Google Analytics 4 is soon becoming the default version of Google Analytics and will be the only option for GA tracking from the 1st of July, 2023, so there really is no better time to make the switch than right now.
Please note: if you do not transition your website to GA4 by the 1st of July (including your audience segmentation, conversion tracking and eCommerce set-up) then your data will not be tracked.
For businesses that are used to the original Google Analytics
(if you do not have a UA account yet, please see the next section of this blog)
So, how can you transition from UA to GA4 without getting into a net of confusion? If you already have a Universal Analytics account, it’s important to first make sure that all of the necessary tags and code snippets are updated to GA4, hooking up all of the websites you want to track. This may require some debugging, so don’t be afraid to ask your favourite Fishtankers for some help casting the right line.
Once everything is properly hooked up, it’s time to dive deep into the data. Take some time to learn the new GA4 interface, and explore the different metrics and reports it offers. Gain an understanding of what the different events mean, how to create audiences based on user behaviour, and how to set up conversion tracking. It may seem like a lot to fish out at first, but the improved insights and data visualisations will make the effort worth it.
Finally, it’s important to continue to test and tweak your GA4 implementation, keeping an eye on any potential issues or discrepancies. Don’t be afraid to try new methods and experiment with different tracking parameters.
If you do not already have a Universal Analytics account we have put together this step-by-step guide to GA4 to lend you a helping fin:
Step 1: Create a Google Analytics account
The first step in setting up GA4 is to create a Google Analytics account. Go to https://analytics.google.com/ and click on ‘Start for free’ and sign in with your Gmail credentials.
Step 2: Set up a new GA4 property
Once you have successfully created your Google Analytics account, click on “Admin” in the bottom left-hand side corner of your screen. Then, click on “Create Property” under the ‘Property’ tab. Choose the ‘Web’ option and fill in your website name, URL, and select your industry category.
Step 3: Install GA4 tracking code
After setting up your property, GA4 will generate a tracking code that needs to be installed on your website. You can either copy and paste the code into the header section of your website’s HTML, use a plugin if you use a CMS such as WordPress, or use Google Tag Manager to insert the tracking code.
If you need help with this step – reach out to your marketing agency and they will be able to do this for you. At Fishtank, we offer this service to all of our web maintenance clients as part of their package.
Step 4: Verify your installation
To ensure that the GA4 tracking code is properly installed, navigate to your website and open the “Realtime” report in your GA4 account. If it shows any active users, your installation is successful.
Step 5: Customise your tracking
GA4 allows you to customise the data you want to track such as events, conversions, and user properties. To do this, click on ‘Admin’ and select ‘Data Streams.’ From there, click on the gear icon next to your property and select the ‘Edit Configuration’ option.
For eCommerce businesses and businesses with lots of custom forms and buttons that need to be tracked, setting up conversion tracking using Google Tag Manager can be a daunting task! At Fishtank we offer conversion tracking services with our expert team of Web Developers and Digital Marketers – if you need any help setting up your website conversions please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] and a friendly member of our Digital Marketing team will be in touch shortly.
Step 6: Link GA4 with your Google Ads account (if applicable)
If you are running Google Ads campaigns for your website, it’s essential to link your GA4 property with your Google Ads account. To do this, click on ‘Admin’, select ‘Data Hub,’ and navigate to the ‘Google Ads Linking’ tab. Follow the instructions to complete the linking process.
Setting up GA4 for your website is relatively straightforward. By following these steps, you can unlock the powerful analytical capabilities of GA4.
In conclusion, transitioning from UA to GA4 may seem like a nightmare you don’t want to embark on, but with a little patience and practice, you’ll be riding the waves of improved insights and data analysis in no time!
If you need any help organising your GA4 account, tracking your website conversions, or simply want us to check if you’ve set it all up right, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] and a friendly member of our Digital Marketing team will be in touch shortly.