What do I need to know about Google Analytics 4?

Are you using Google Analytics to track your website’s performance? If so, you might have heard that big changes are coming. In July 2023, Universal Analytics, the current version of Google Analytics, will retire, making way for Google Analytics 4. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you understand what you need to know about the new version.

Google Analytics 4 is similar to Universal Analytics in the data it tracks, but it is slightly different in how it reports the data. GA4 is focused on two main things: machine learning (AI) and data visualisation. In GA4, you will find more predictive analytics and insights, as well as more graphs and charts.

What is Google Analytics 4?

As you may already know, Google Analytics is a tool that can track and measure traffic and performance on your site. A script is added to your website, which tracks visitor activity in the Google Analytics dashboard. If you are using WordPress to power your site, you can easily integrate Google Analytics using one of many WordPress analytics plugins. 

Google Analytics 4 is designed to help businesses measure multiple data types while meeting the increasing demand for user privacy. It enables website owners to see user journeys across their sites and apps. Additionally, GA4 helps you predict new insights with machine learning technology. We’ll take a closer look at some of these features in the next section.

New features in Google Analytics 4

GA4 can help you track your goals more efficiently. These may include increasing the number of sales, app installations, or generating leads. Let’s take a look at some of the new features of GA4!

A new data model

GA4 collects data through events, which are unique actions users take on your website or app. These events can be page views, transactions, social interactions, and more. This new approach helps you get detailed information about how users interact with your website without compromising their privacy.

AI-powered insights and predictions

GA4 uses machine learning technology to give business owners valuable customer insights. These insights can help you plan your marketing campaigns more effectively and predict outcomes like churn rates, potential conversions, and sales. You can use this information to target the right audience at the ideal time and promote your products to them.

A complete view of the customer lifecycle

GA4 provides a comprehensive view of your customer lifecycle, from the moment they visit your website to the point they become a paying customer. You can see which channels are driving traffic to your website (acquisition), the actions users take on your website (engagement), and whether they return after converting (retention). This information helps you understand how users engage with your website across different devices and channels.

More control over user data

GA4 is a tool that helps businesses keep track of their website traffic and user behaviour. It has features that allow for better control of user data and protection against spam.

With the phasing out of third-party cookies, GA4 emphasises the use of first-party data. This helps website owners obtain user consent for analytics and ads and makes handling user data removal requests easier.

Spam referrals are a common problem that can disrupt accurate data collection. However, GA4 has addressed this issue by introducing a secret key that only allows hits with this key to send data to a GA4 property. This key is only accessible to the website owner and not available publicly, preventing spammers from sending fake data.

Do I have to upgrade to Google Analytics 4?

Yes, you should upgrade to GA4. Universal Analytics will stop working after July 1, 2023, so if you don’t upgrade, you won’t have any data from that date onward. Upgrading to GA4 has many benefits, such as prioritising user privacy and complying with international data protection regulations. You can add GA4 to your existing account and use both until Universal Analytics becomes obsolete in 2023. It’s recommended to upgrade as soon as possible so you have time to familiarise yourself with its features.

What is the Difference Between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics?

The most obvious difference between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics is that GA4 enables you to report on website and application activity. There are several other differences, including:

A new dashboard

The first change you are likely to notice is the entirely new dashboard. It is more streamlined, and many of the reports you are used to are gone or have been moved. The navigation bar to the right includes buttons for home, reports, explore, advertising, configure, and library.

Click here for a walkthrough of the new dashboard.

All measurements are events in Google Analytics 4

In the past, Google Analytics used to focus on measuring page views as the primary metric. However, with the release of Google Analytics 4, all measurements are now events. This means that instead of seeing generalised data, you can now better understand how users interact with your app or website by analysing their specific interactions.

For example, instead of just seeing how many pages a user viewed, you can now see how long they spent engaging with certain elements on your site or app. This provides a more in-depth understanding of user behaviour and can help you make more informed decisions about improving your user experience.

Google Analytics 4 also includes new metrics measuring user engagement, such as engaged sessions, engagement rate, and engagement time. These metrics will help you track your customers’ journey more effectively, which is vital for improving customer satisfaction and retention.

While this change may require some learning on your part, it ultimately means you will have access to more detailed data to help you make better decisions about your website or app.

Gain access to predictive insights with Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 provides predictive insights to help businesses make data-driven decisions at a larger scale. Instead of just looking at past audience behaviours, companies can now use AI-powered metrics to predict things like the probability of a purchase, the likelihood of churn, and revenue predictions. For example, by creating audiences based on predicted behaviours, businesses can improve their retargeting campaigns and target users likely to purchase in the next 7 days or spend more than $500 in one purchase.

These predictive insights can also improve website performance by allowing businesses to create custom funnels for different audiences based on their behaviours and needs, which will continue to get better with more data collection.

Google Analytics 4 gives marketers more control

GA4 is a tool for marketers that lets them control and customise their dashboard to see the reports that matter most to their business. With GA4, you can create custom visualisations of your collected data using Google Data Studio.

GA4 also allows you to create custom segments based on specific events on your website or application, giving you a more accurate picture of customer interactions. For instance, you can create segments that track conversion events in a particular location. These features help you get a more detailed view of your users and their behaviours.

Cross-platform tracking

Cross-platform tracking means monitoring user behaviour across multiple platforms, such as apps and websites. It was difficult to track users across different platforms in the past, but the new Google Analytics 4, can track both app and web data in one place.

By assigning unique user IDs during login, GA4 allows marketers to see the entire customer journey, from how they found the product to how they engaged with it and how they eventually became loyal customers. This information helps marketers to understand user behaviour across different platforms and can be used to create more accurate customer models.

A note for Wolf IQ clients

As a Wolf IQ Website Care Plan client, you don’t need to worry about a thing! We’re here to ensure your website’s migration to Google Analytics 4 is smooth and stress-free. Best of all, it won’t cost you a penny! So sit back, relax, and let us take care of everything.

Are you interested in our website care plans? We will ensure your website runs at peak levels and is often in better condition than when it was first launched. Your website will be safe, fast, and working FOR your business. Click here to learn more!

Written by Andrea Sevilla

Andrea is our Marketing Consultant & Copywriter who works with our clients to craft content for their websites, blog articles, promotional materials and more!

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