Google Analytics is a staple for businesses to understand how users progress through and interact with their website. It offers key insights on what website updates are necessary to meet user needs. Recently, Google launched Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to replace Universal Analytics, which will no longer be available after July 1, 2023.
The new Google Analytics comes with significant changes. GA4 will not only have a fresh look and feel, but data collection will also be centered around events rather than sessions. These changes give users a more in-depth analysis of data and the ability to customize the data collected to their exact needs. It’s important to start getting familiar with GA4 to make the transition as easy as possible on your team.
Here are key updates you need to know to ensure you are getting the most out of GA4.
Instead of user interactions being segregated to page views and events, GA4 will now be tracking users across apps and websites by sending events that allow for more granular tracking.
Google has also simplified certain parts of the installation by adding default tracking events (Enhanced Measurement.) Gone are the days of adding special tracking via Google Tag Manager or on-page code to capture common interactions. When you install the GA4 snippet, you will have items such as page views, scrolls, outbound clicks, and more tracked by default.
Events in GA4 are different from what they were in Universal Analytics. Previously, you were limited to a handful of information to send with hits. Now you have parameters.
New Parameters, More Data
Prior versions of Google Analytics were strict in what you could send to what type of hit. GA4 uses parameters to tie any data you want to events. The benefit of parameters is that you can better aggregate your data in a meaningful way.
For example, if you have tracking multiple form submissions you can create one event that encompasses all forms on site. The submission event can contain form names, user types, a date/time stamp, as well as any tracking information passed from products such as salesforce.
Better User Privacy
Privacy is a big topic these days. Google has made major changes to the way users are tracked via GA4 to protect user data and where the data is processed. Additionally, since there has been an increased use of blocking technologies in browsers, Google Analytics 4 incorporates machine learning to bulk up data to allow a better understanding of trends.
No More Views
Google Analytics data used to be segmented into views which meant you had to filter the amount of data accessible in each view and categorize your data sets. With GA4’s event-based model, views are no longer necessary. The use of events and parameters makes it possible to filter and segment the specific data you need on the event level.
Sparse Default Reports
Google has cut down on the number of default reports that are available out of the box. Currently, there are only a few default reports, with the addition of a “Library” containing report templates that can be used as a base for any new reports.
The decrease in default reports will make it harder for less technical marketers to pull reports via GA4’s front end. Google Analytics 4 removed a lot of their reporting overhead, which is pushing users to outside data visualization software such as Google Data Studio and Tableau. The software allows you to do much more with your data than what is built-in to GA4.
With data visualization software, you can build dynamic reports to highlight the specific data you and your stakeholders need. The shift will allow marketers and other stakeholders to better visualize, interpret, and communicate the data Google Analytics is pulling.
Overall, GA4 will give marketers the tools to better understand their users and gain deeper insights through data collection. It allows for more customization in what data is being collected so that users can pull only the data they need. July 2023 will be here before we know it, so it’s critical to start understanding how GA4 works and begin collecting data and KPIs through the latest version to ensure you don’t miss out on what you need when the switch comes.
Ready to start your Google Analytics 4 transition? Contact us to learn more about how we can prepare you for GA4.