Google Analytics, the most popular web traffic data collector system, has undergone many iterations over the years, all within the same platform. But as the web has evolved and gone mobile, plus with countries putting data tracking regulations in place, the popular tool has become increasingly inaccurate.
In order to solve that, Google has launched a whole new tool, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), built from the ground up on a whole new platform. It promises better predictive insights, deeper integration with Google Ads, and cross-device measurement capabilities.
Highlights of Google Analytics 4
GA4 is radically different. It has a much more accurate way of tracking visitors, where they come from, and where they go on your website. But it will take some getting used. New great features are provided, but some old ones we relied upon have gone away.
Here are some highlights of the new capabilities and changes.
- The new platform It’s built with machine learning as the main form of data measurement, providing a “more complete understanding of the customer journey across devices.”
- It’s more focused on measuring an end-to-end buyer’s journey across devices/pages/segments, as opposed to individual, isolated metrics impossible to tie together.
- It’s designed to adapt and work in an internet world with increasingly restricted cookies or identifying data.
- Account levels have changed from three levels (Account, Property, and View) to just 2; GA4 only has Account and Property levels.
- “Goals” have been replaced with “Events”
- Data Import can now include a wide range of data from non-website sources (like apps, for example) all within one property.
- Cross-domain tracking that does not require code adjustments either can be done within the UI.
- It provides a “Life Cycle Report,” which seems to be one of the biggest changes in Analytics and focuses on the user journey.
- The “templated reports for e-commerce funnels” will provide a way to display and visualize data
What Will Happen To The Data Stored in Current Analytics?
According to Google, all standard Universal Analytics properties will stop registering new activity on July 1, 2023. After that, you’ll be able to access your previously processed data in Universal Analytics for at least six months.
But you shouldn’t wait to install Google Analytics 4.
Since it’s a whole new product that works entirely differently, there will be a learning curve. You want to install it as soon as possible to get acquainted with the tool and better understand how it works. You also want to have at least 12 months of data registered in GA4 when the time comes. Set it up to gather data in the background now, so you’ll be good to go when the time comes.
How To Prepare And Transition
The best transition plan is to run both platforms in parallel. That way, you can start getting used to the new platform while keeping the current analytics you’re familiar with running intact.
In order to install GA4, you’ll need to install the new code. Once it’s activated, you’ll want to do some configuration and customization depending on what you want to track.
As far as the installation itself, the easiest way to do it is through Google Tag Manager, so you can have both tools running. This amazing tool allows you to manage all kinds of tracking from various platforms, all in one place, without adding extra code to your site. So if you haven’t already, you need to create a Google Tags Manager account and set it up ASAP.
Once your GA4 is installed, the next step is to integrate it with your Webmaster Tools and Google Data Studio, where you’ll be able to create reports with all this new information about your site visitors.
Get Help If You Need To
It goes without saying that GA4 must be installed correctly to register the data correctly. While it’s not all that difficult, setting up Google Analytics 4 has a lot of nuances. As with all new things, especially Google, the process is rather clunky.
Finding someone who understands Google Analytics and Tag Manager is important. When adding a code snippet to your website, it is important you get a developer to do this or at least someone who understands code. You most certainly don’t want someone who’ll be learning how to do it with your business.
“You can’t improve what you don’t measure”
~ Peter Drucker
If you’re not sure if your tracking is working correctly or need help with any of this, reach out and schedule a time to talk. Our tech experts will audit your current setup, make recommendations if needed, and take care of the implementation if you wish.