What is GA4
Many of you will be familiar with Google Analytics (GA). It’s the analytics toolkit that allows you to monitor traffic to your website, visitor behaviour, conversions and bounce rates. It provides the intelligence and data from which you can make important decisions about your website structure, layout, content and marketing strategy.
The exciting news is that the current standard is being replaced with a new version – Google Analytics 4 (GA4) which rolls out on 1st July 2023.
What is different to the existing version
The interface looks and feels very different, in fact, if you are used to the current version of analytics, you will be in for a shock!
The whole ethos, the new version is event-based rather than session-based. Everything from the start of a session, through user engagement to page view will be identified as an event. This can be confusing initially but makes sense after you have used the tool for a bit.
GA4 unifies tracking across your websites, and apps. Bounce rate is no longer available, it’s all about engagement now!
Why is it better than universal analytics (GA3)
Machine learning and data modelling plays a much larger part. The algorithms will learn from your unique data and be able to predict a whole raft of important metrics, things like the percentage of your audience that are most likely to purchase and those least likely to return to your website or app. These audiences can then be marketed and targeted in different ways. And this can all be set-up in just a few clicks.
GA4 is designed to be privacy-centric and will work with or without cookies. By using its machine learning and data modelling capabilities it can fill in data gaps as the world moves towards a cookie-less future.
Several metrics that were manually set-up are now available out of the box. These are called enhanced measurements and include metrics like outbound clicks, scrolling, video engagement and file downloads
Why should I take advantage of GA4
Necessity – Google announced that as of the first of July 2023 the current version of Google Analytics will be sunset. You must have Google analytics 4 set-up prior to this date else you will have no data to analyse!
To take advantage of the advanced machine learning insights and the raft of bespoke reporting options.
Why should I set-up GA4 now
Data collection is not retrospective, until you set up GA4 data will NOT be collected. We’d suggest you need at least 6-months data to optimise marketing decisions.
How do I set it up?
If you set-up a new Google analytics account, it will automatically be configured as GA4.
If you have an existing Google Analytics account, then this guide from Google gives you the various options.
If you use Google Tag Manager, then you will need to add a configuration tag and extra tags for all events you wish to track. More details here.
Many of you won’t be responsible for GA monitoring of your website traffic – instead this will be dealt with by your digital marketing agency who, like Granite 5, will use insights and metrics to inform the decisions they take with respect to your digital estate. If that’s the case, talk to your agency and make sure they’re ready to get GA4 rolled-out on your website immediately.
Go beyond standard, make sure you track your own key metrics, for instance, eCommerce tracking, if applicable, or other conversion types like form submissions and email clicks.
If you want to take advantage of the many advanced benefits of GA4 you need to set it up pronto!