In the world of marketing, data is king. And Google Analytics is markedly one of the most powerful tools available for collecting and analyzing data. From tracking website traffic and acquisition channels to measuring campaign performance, Google Analytics is an essential tool for any business looking to understand its customers better and optimize its marketing efforts.
That’s why we are here to give you a heads-up on a pretty substantial shift that’s coming on July 1, 2023, when Universal Analytics will officially stop tracking data. This will inevitably change the landscape of data analysis for you and your business – so keep reading to learn how to best prepare!
What is Google Analytics 4?
If you haven’t heard, Google Analytics 4 is the biggest update to the Google Analytics platform since its launch in 2005. Introduced out of beta in October 2020, GA4 is primarily focused on providing comprehensive insights into the entire customer journey – from acquisition to involvement, revenue, and retention. GA4 uses a machine learning-based data model to provide more accurate and granular data to measure user engagement and conversions, and supports enhanced data privacy features.
So, why is Google Analytics 4 making its big debut this coming July? And why do you need to know about it?
Notably, restrictions implemented by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – that prioritize the consumer’s privacy – have pushed Google to level up and develop their analytical tools to be more compliant with data privacy regulations. With this new version of Google Analytics, users will now have the ability to control their data and opt out of tracking, giving them more control over how their data is used.
Aside from new privacy restrictions, Google found that their current analytic tools were failing to provide a comprehensive outlook on customer engagement, given that online experiences are largely cross-platform. With GA4, businesses will have a more sophisticated, comprehensive way to measure app and website performance across platforms. GA4 illuminates more accurate insights into customer behavior and provides more detailed data about user engagement, which will help marketers better understand the behavior of their customers and optimize their marketing strategies to better meet their goals.
Some of GA4’s new reporting features include:
- Cross-Device Reporting: GA4 will allow businesses to track users’ behavior across multiple devices. This is crucial for understanding how users interact with a website or app and allows businesses to tailor their content and messaging accordingly.
- Automated Insights: This one is big. GA4 provides automated insights that allow businesses to quickly identify trends and potential areas for improvement. This can be used to optimize campaigns, target specific audiences, and create more effective content.
- Enhanced Ecommerce Reporting: This GA4 feature allows businesses to track sales and consumer behavior, as well as identify potential areas for optimization.
- Engagement Time: Bounce rate is being replaced by engagement time in GA4. Bounce rate measures the percentage of users who leave a website after viewing only one page, indicating that they did not find what they were looking for. On the other hand, engagement time measures the amount of time users spend interacting with a website or app, indicating how interested they are in the content—a much more helpful metric. Engagement time also takes into account interactions with different pages on a website, providing a more accurate picture of user behavior.
- Google Tag Manager: GA4 is making it easier to create events and leverage Google tag manager for analytics and Google ads. Notably, UA needed a strong technical background for submissions and other tracking, where GA4 does not.
Universal Analytics VS. Google Analytics: How to Prepare
Plain and simple: UA was not designed for the analytical needs we have today. And with the introduction of GA4 on July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer be available. This means it will not receive incoming data from your business’s website, making it even more imperative that you prepare for this transition to GA4 as soon as possible to ensure continuity in reporting and access to as much historical data as you’d like.
It’s important to note that UA data will not stay around forever – so make sure you backup your traffic data for offline referencing. By doing so, you will be able to take full advantage of the new features and capabilities that GA4 has to offer, which will ultimately help you make more informed decisions and improve overall business performance.
If you require support setting up your GA4, please contact us today.