Setting up Google Analytics 4 is it worth the hassle?
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Setting up Google Analytics 4 is it worth the hassle?

Posted on 8 March 2023
Setting up Google Analytics 4 is it worth the hassle?

There is no secret that Google just loves doing regular updates, and the frequency is crazy.  Some of the new features, algorithms and processes are good and others create a lot of work to keep your presence on Google heading in the right direction. 

One of the biggest right now is... Google on July 1, 2023 will retire the current version of Google Analytics (known as Universal Analytics), and replace it with their new service, Google Analytics 4 (also known as GA4). It's essential to note that GA4 is not merely an updated version of the current Google Analytics platform that has been collecting and organising data for the past ten years. It is a brand-new system that provides greater flexibility to measure user experience and marketing performance data across your website, albeit with a different interface than what you are accustomed to.

If you haven't already set up your Google Analytics 4 (GA4), you need to do it before July 1, 2023

So let us guide you through the new analytics tool and show you why you should embrace the change, not avoid it.

Why should every business have set up Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that allows website owners to track and analyse user behaviour. It provides valuable insights that help businesses (and their marketing partners) make data-driven decisions and improve their online presence. However, the traditional version of Google Analytics has been around for quite some time, and with the changing needs of businesses and advancements in technology, it was time for an upgrade. Enter Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

GA4 is the latest version of Google Analytics that offers a more advanced and comprehensive way of tracking website activity. It’s designed to provide businesses with a deeper understanding of user behaviour and helps them make better-informed decisions to improve their website’s performance.

Whether you are ready to analyse your data right now or in the future.  Setting it up now is essential so you are tracking data now, and it will be in there when you need it!

So, why did Google introduce GA4, and when is it changing?

The primary reason Google introduced GA4 is to keep up with the changing digital landscape. As technology advances and user behaviour evolves, the traditional version of Google Analytics may no longer provide accurate insights into website activity. GA4 addresses this by providing a more comprehensive view of user behaviour across multiple platforms and devices.

Additionally, GA4 offers more advanced machine learning capabilities, which can help businesses gain insights into user behaviour that were not previously possible. The new version also offers improved data privacy measures, allowing businesses to collect and analyse user data in a more responsible and transparent way.

What are the differences between UA and GA4?

  1. Property "Views" are not part of GA4 One of the most significant changes in GA4 is the removal of account "views," which allowed users to create multiple filtered and customised reports of their analytics property. In GA4, all data manipulation is done on the property level. This streamlines the data into a single reporting property with up to three data stream types: website, iOS app, and Android app. As a result, third-party vendors who created their views of your data within Universal Analytics (UA) can no longer do so in GA4. This means that businesses will need to work with their vendors to ensure that they're pushing their intended events and actions to the GA4 property for consistent reporting. It is also recommended to confirm if the vendors adhere to the ASC specifications to ensure receiving the most reliable and consistent data.

  2. GA4 introduces an event-based measurement model Unlike UA, which is based on tracking independent session data, GA4 aims to provide a complete view of the customer lifecycle with an event-based measurement model. As a result, the data between UA and GA4 will not match due to the different models. GA4 will begin to look at users and audiences for shopping behaviours rather than sessions, allowing businesses to be more aware of their customers' actions and behaviours, such as clicks and page interactions.

  3. Old metrics with new definitions While businesses have relied on certain metrics such as Bounce Rate and Conversion Rate in UA to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing and website experience, some of these key performance indicators (KPIs) have new definitions or are not a part of GA4. For example, in UA, Bounce Rate was defined as the percentage of single-page sessions without interaction, while in GA4, it's the percentage of non-engaged sessions. Bounce Rate is now defined as the inverse of Engagement Rate, one of the new metrics in GA4. To provide a clear picture of the key objectives, GA4 has introduced new metrics such as Engaged sessions, Engagement rate, Events per session, and Avg. engagement time per session.

  4. New event categories in GA4 GA4 has introduced new event categories that simplify event tracking compared to UA. Events in GA4 are defined using an event name with parameters to identify custom dimensions and metrics associated with the event. There are four types of events in GA4: Automatically Collected Events, Enhanced Measurement Events, Recommended Events, and Custom Events. Custom Events are the most important and powerful events to set up as they provide insight into how every engagement within your digital ecosystem affects your website's overall experience. With Custom Events, you can track engagement with your inventory, media, messaging platform, digital retailing experience, and anything on your website. It is critical to work with third-party vendors to ensure proper events are created within the GA4 property to track engagement with those tools.

  5. Go deeper with fewer reports in GA4 Unlike UA, which has many predefined reports for various user activities, GA4 offers only three standard Acquisition reports. Instead of a long list of predefined reports that try to cover everything, GA4 allows businesses to go deeper with more detailed and specific reports that align with their business objectives. GA4 also offers Analysis Hub, which provides access to more complex reports and data exploration tools. By allowing businesses to focus on their specific goals, GA4 reduces the complexity of data analysis and provides more valuable insights.

If you'd like us to set up GA4 for you, contact your local Bloomtools Consultant or if you're got the time and feeling savvy keep reading for some helpful steps.

How To Migrate From Universal Analytics to GA4

Migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4 necessitates meticulous planning and execution to ensure a seamless transition. Below are the essential tasks you must undertake for a flawless migration:

  • Create a GA4 Property:  Use the GA4 Setup Assistant tool available in the Admin/Property section of your current Universal Analytics property to create a GA4 property and make the process easier.
  • Set Up Data Streams: You need to configure data streams to collect data from your website, mobile app, or other digital platforms in GA4. Ensure the data streams are appropriately set up to capture the required data.
  • Install GA4 On Your Website: Install the GA4 tracking code on your website (recommended through GTM so your website keeps GA and GA4 running till the end of June) and ensure it is accurately set up to track the desired events.
  • Set Up Events and Conversions: Create a list of the events, conversions, and audiences you need to track in GA4 and configure them accordingly.
  • Update Reporting: Since GA4 utilises a new reporting interface, you must update your reporting processes and workflows accordingly.
  • Update Integrations: If you have any third-party integrations that rely on Universal Analytics, you must update them to work with GA4.
  • Test and Validate: Test your GA4 setup to ensure that it accurately captures data and meets your reporting requirements. Validate the data by comparing it with your Universal Analytics data.
  • Train Your Team: Provide training to your team on the new GA4 interface, reporting capabilities, and event tracking model to ensure they are adept in using it.
  • Download your Universal (the older Google Analytics) reports for future reference

What are the challenges

While GA4 can be an exciting new tool, it may take some time for you to adapt and learn how to use it effectively. New updates can also lead to compatibility issues with existing tools or workflows, and improper data migration could result in the loss of valuable insights.

To make the most of GA4, you should stay informed about new features and best practices, invest time in learning how to use the tool effectively, and be prepared to adapt their workflows and strategies. By being aware of the potential challenges, you can maximise the benefits of GA4 and make informed data-driven decisions.

In conclusion

Google Analytics 4 is a powerful tool for tracking and analysing user behaviour on your website. With comprehensive data collection, advanced machine learning capabilities, event-driven data, improved data privacy, and easy integration with other Google products, GA4 provides businesses with valuable insights to make data-driven decisions and optimise their online presence.

If you’re not already using GA4, it’s time to make the switch and start leveraging its advanced features.

If you would like some help from the Bloomtools team, get in contact with your local Bloomtools consultant and let us set this up for you.  GA4 - Set up packages avaliable

Tracey VoyceAuthor:Tracey Voyce
About: With more than 30 years business management experience, Tracey Voyce is the CEO of Bloomtools. Tracey has owned and managed many businesses and spent several years training and motivating coaches at the world’s largest business coaching franchise.
Connect via:LinkedIn
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