What You Need to Know About GA4
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has replaced Google’s Universal Analytics (UA), with all UA properties having ceased processing data as of July 1st, 2023. How is GA4 different? How will the change impact your website metrics reporting, and why does it matter? Here’s what you need to know.
As the next generation of Google Analytics, GA4 simultaneously delivers cross–platform user journey tracking and enhanced user privacy. In layman’s terms, this means that you can now track user behavior in one location as they move between your website and apps and measure traffic and engagement through various marketing funnel touchpoints.
What’s more, GA4 no longer relies on third-party cookies or IP addresses to gather information about consumers, using AI predictive technology to fill in data gaps instead — a major win for user privacy.
The bottom line: despite changing the way it collects data, the increased opportunities for customization and advanced knowledge of consumer journeys mean GA4 is transforming the way organizations understand their online audiences.
What are the benefits of Google Analytics 4 over Universal Analytics?
1. IP Anonymization
Built-in IP anonymization means that GA4 will no longer store users’ IP addresses. To many consumers, this is one of the platform’s most significant changes. Privacy-first policies have long been emerging as a new normal in the tech industry. Instead of storing user information, GA4 creates audiences and offers analytics that are based on overall user behavior without providing specific information about user demographics. This means more safety for users and ultimately, more creative and valuable metrics.
2. Cross-Platform Tracking
GA4 allows for the measurement of web and app data in one spot. With the new system, it is now possible to track cross-platform customer journeys — so you can watch as users move between your app and your website without setting up additional software to track app behavior.
3. Event Customization and Tracking
The introduction of “events” allows for the tracking of specific behaviors instead of simple website hits. This means that analytics can be tailored to provide only the most relevant information for your organization. Interested in seeing how many people are clicking the “Learn More” button? Looking for how many people from Phoenix, Arizona downloaded a file? Event tracking prioritizes these behaviors and feeds into the creation of Google Ad audiences — a major improvement that allows marketers to nail down niche audiences, improve ad targeting and produce more quality leads.
4. Debug Tests
Debug reports test events and provide immediate feedback, promoting efficiency like never before. Where debugs formerly took 24 hours or more to populate information, it is now possible to test that events are functioning properly in real time, and quickly troubleshoot if necessary. This cuts down on time spent ensuring that tracking is correct to allow for more opportunity to narrow down specific target audiences.
5. Predictive Measurement
GA4 takes advantage of AI learning to find buyers using predictive measurement. Google’s predictive metrics identify users whose actions on the website are most likely to lead to a conversion and suggest target audiences based on these users. It can predict the probability that a site visitor will make a purchase, whether or not they are likely to revisit the website and how much revenue will be acquired during a certain time frame.
6. A Fresh Start
Perhaps most importantly, the transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 is valuable because it provides a blank slate. Starting from scratch is an opportunity to hone in on what matters most to an organization, allowing for more agile decision-making.
Learn More About Your Audiences with Google Analytics 4
While Google has automatically migrated any existing UA properties to GA4 if it was not yet set up separately, Google-generated GA4 properties are created with only basic features. It is important to manually customize GA4 settings and tracking parameters to meet your organization’s unique needs and verify that its most meaningful metrics are processing data.
A properly set-up Google Analytics property will help portray a better understanding of a site’s audience. Tracking how users move through a website confirms the effectiveness of SEO practices and highlights where they are falling short based on user engagement with site content.
So, you have this new perspective of your websites’ users, but why is that important? By interpreting website visitor behavior, organizations are able to:
- Understand the interests and behaviors of audiences at various stages of the marketing funnel
- Pinpoint more accurate target audiences
- Inform digital ad strategy and content creation
- Optimize SEO strategy
- Improve the value and efficiency of analytic reporting
This new era of reporting is an exciting improvement to organizations’ perspectives of their website visitors and consumers. By taking full advantage of the insights gleaned from this new generation of Google Analytics, your organization will be armed with valuable knowledge to create better content and develop digital marketing strategies tailored to support your unique business goals.
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