Thinking of switching to GA4? Here’s what you need to know

google analytics 4

If your business has had a web presence anytime between 2005 and now, you’ve probably used Google Analytics to measure its success. The platform has allowed users to track website traffic and offers other analytical tools to help with your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and marketing strategies. But its capabilities have advanced since its early days. The latest version of Analytics is called Google Analytics 4, or GA4 for short. It will become the default platform from July 1st, 2023.

If you’ve been having any hesitations about switching to GA4, we’re here to help. It will require some planning and time but it can up your marketing strategies so it’s worth it. Let’s take a deeper dive into GA4.

What is Google Analytics 4?

GA4 is the fourth version of Google Analytics and will be the successor of Google Universal Analytics (UA). It was created to address the changes in the marketing landscape so businesses could measure their performances, and improve where they need to be, as well as to provide better protection for users and their data.

GA4 makes use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to give businesses a better understanding of their customers’ journeys across their websites and apps. This means that GA4 can seamlessly track your users’ activity across different devices.  Let’s take a look at a few key features of GA4.

Features of GA4

  • You can control your privacy and cookies

Recently, there has been a big focus on data privacy and GA4 addresses this. With the latest version, Google Analytics won’t track third-party cookies. This means that sites other than the one that you’re currently on won’t be able to place cookies on your device or track you or your activity across the internet. GA4 will only focus on first-party cookies that are put there by the website owner. 

  • Based on events instead of sessions

GA4 enables you to set up events which measure user interactions on your website or app. So if a user clicks on a video or makes a purchase on your site or app, it’ll be tracked. This allows you to be more specific with your tracking and measurements. The previous versions of Google Analytics used sessions which gave an overall measurement of your users’ experience. 

  • Has predictive capabilities

GA4 uses machine learning and AI which enriches your data. They analyse your users’ behaviour and predict their future behaviour. Why is this a handy tool? Because you can learn more about the quality of your traffic, whether they’re likely to make a purchase within the next 7 days based on their activity and your possible marketing budget.

  • Direct integrations

You can directly integrate GA4 into media platforms. This makes your data actionable so you’re not just collecting it but taking necessary actions based on it. You can link other products and share audience and conversion data which can help you target and personalise your digital marketing strategies. A few of the integrations that are available include:

  • Google Ads
  • Search Console
  • Play integration
  • BigQuery
  • Display and Video 360

Is there a difference between GA4 and UA?

Yes, there are differences between the third version of Google Analytics and the latest. The biggest difference between the two is the measurement model. As mentioned above, GA4 focuses on events, but UA focuses on sessions. The GA4 events are categorised into 4 groups namely automatically collected events, enhanced measurements, recommended events and custom events.

Once you’ve switched from UA to GA4, you’ll have to set up new properties because the structures are different from each other and so you won’t be able to import or transfer your data. Make sure you keep a record of your data from UA so you don’t lose anything.

What are the benefits of GA4?

  • Improves Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI is used to evaluate how well your investments have performed. It’s a ratio between your net income and investment cost. GA4 can help you improve your ROI by giving you insight and data to better understand your marketing strategies. When you know how to optimize your campaigns, you’ll be able to improve your ROI.

  • More value for data

Thanks to the machine learning that GA4 utilises, you get more sophisticated data about your users’ behaviour. You can use this data to optimize your campaigns because you’ll be able to see which users are more likely to purchase or convert.

  • Adjust needs

GA4 allows you to customize and choose which properties you want to use. For example, if you need to meet any data governance needs or company policies, you can adjust the structure so that any data collection, processing, reporting or attribution can be easily accessed by the required teams.

Frequently Asked Questions about Google Analytics 4

  • What are dimensions in GA4?

You can think of dimensions as specific characteristics that you want to track. For example, if you want to track user events that come from London, you can set the City dimension to London in your GA4 properties.

  • What are sessions in GA4?

These are a group of user interactions that occur during a certain time frame. But as mentioned above, GA4 doesn’t focus on sessions the same way that GAU did so you may find a difference when you make the switch to GA4. 

  • What is a metric in GA4?

These are quantitative measurements for different characteristics in your Analytics report. You can have overview metrics which indicate a summary statistic for the entire site or app such as bounce rate. Or you can have a metric in association with a dimension

Unsure about the ins and outs of Analytics and how to use it to optimize your marketing campaigns? Don’t stress, our experts can help. Get in touch with us today and we’ll help your business reach new heights.

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