As an agency, you know how important it is to have access to the most cutting-edge tools and technology for monitoring and analyzing website traffic. With the upcoming retirement of Universal Analytics, it is essential to understand the transition to Google Analytics 4 and how it can enhance your data analysis capabilities.
Understanding Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4, formerly known as “App + Web,” is a new property introduced by Google in October 2020. It is designed to provide a better view of the customer journey, allowing marketers to gather data on customer engagement, monetization, and retention even after the initial acquisition. This upgrade was driven by shifts in consumer behavior and changes in online privacy policies, as highlighted in Google’s announcement.
According to research conducted by Forrest Consulting, current analytics solutions often fail to provide a complete view of the customer journey, particularly in cross-platform experiences. Managing the volume of data and integrating data from different teams can be a significant challenge for marketers. Google Analytics 4 aims to address these challenges by leveraging machine learning to surface cross-platform insights and adopting a privacy-centric approach.
Key Features and Benefits of Google Analytics 4
Deeper Integration With Google Ads
One of the notable enhancements in Google Analytics 4 is its deeper integration with Google Ads. This integration allows marketers to measure app and web integrations, providing a unified view of conversions across various channels, including Google Ads, YouTube Ads, non-Google paid media like Facebook, and organic channels like search, social, and email. With this integration, marketers can quickly assess the impact of their marketing investments, regardless of the acquisition channel.
Google Analytics 4 takes a more customer-centric approach to tracking the customer journey. It recognizes that the customer journey is often fragmented and involves multiple devices and platforms. Using multiple identity spaces, including marketer-provided User IDs and unique Google signals from users who opted into ad personalization, Google Analytics 4 offers a complete view of how customers interact with businesses.
Google Analytics 4 introduces a reorganized reporting structure that simplifies tracking the customer journey throughout the digital marketing funnel. The reporting section includes four main categories: Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization, and Retention. Instead of focusing solely on the Acquisition report, like the previous version of Google Analytics did, Google Analytics 4 expands your view to include the entire customer journey. Additionally, the Analysis section offers various templates for analyzing conversion funnels, user journeys, cohort analysis, and more.
A New Approach to Data Controls
Recognizing the evolving privacy landscape, Google Analytics 4 incorporates more granular controls for collecting, retaining, and analyzing user data. It moves away from relying solely on cookies and identifiers and embraces data modeling to fill in gaps in the customer journey. This approach ensures that marketers can continue to rely on Google Analytics even as industry changes and privacy restrictions create limitations on data collection. By adapting to the new privacy landscape, Google Analytics 4 provides marketers with a more privacy-centric and sustainable solution for data analysis.
Migrating to Google Analytics 4
If you need to upgrade to Google Analytics 4, familiarity with the migration process is essential. While the legacy version will continue to be available until July 2023, it is recommended to start the transition by setting up both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 simultaneously.
To begin the migration, create a new Google Analytics 4 property and collect data alongside your existing properties. Although data cannot be imported from the legacy version, setting up a new property allows you to familiarize yourself with the latest features and gather data for future analysis.
During the migration process, it is essential to note that Google Analytics 4 properties use a different reporting structure called “Data Streams” instead of “Views.” You must connect and configure web or app data streams based on your specific requirements when setting up a data stream. The setup process may involve enabling enhanced measurement for web data streams or installing the Firebase SDK for app data streams.
Setting Up Google Analytics 4
If you are setting up a Google Analytics 4 property for the first time, here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started:
Create a Google Analytics 4 Property
If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, visit the Google Analytics website and click on “Get started today” to create a new account. In the “Admin” section, click “Create Account” to set up a new account. Provide a name for the performance and click “Next” to add a property to the report. Using a descriptive name for the account is recommended to identify and organize your analytics data easily.
Enter Account Details
After creating, you will be prompted to enter details such as the time zone, currency, industry category, and business size. Choose the appropriate options based on your requirements and accept Google’s terms and conditions.
Add Data Streams
You need to add data streams to your Google Analytics 4 property to track and analyze customer behavior across different devices and platforms. Three types of data streams are available: Web, iOS, and Android. Select the relevant data stream type and follow the instructions to configure each platform. This step ensures that customer information is accurately captured and analyzed within Google Analytics 4.
Implement Tracking Tags
To feed website information into Google Analytics 4, you need to implement tracking tags on your website. There are detailed guides on implementing the tracking code in popular content management systems like Wix, WordPress, and WooCommerce. For platforms that don’t support the standard tracking code, you can use the global site tag (gtag.js) and insert it into the custom HTML section of your CMS. This allows Google Analytics 4 to collect data from your website development and provide valuable insights into customer behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Google Analytics 4: What Is It?
The most recent release of the Google Analytics software is GA4, abbreviated from “Google Analytics.” Insights about user behavior and how visitors interact with a website are provided by this tool.
2. How is Google Analytics 4 different from previous versions?
It introduces several new features and enhancements compared to previous versions. It focuses on event-based tracking, machine learning, and cross-device tracking, providing a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of user behavior.
3. Why should I use Google Analytics 4?
Using Google Analytics 4 offers several benefits. It provides a more holistic view of user behavior, helps you track and analyze events more effectively, offers better cross-device tracking capabilities, and leverages machine learning to provide actionable insights.
4. Can I still use the older versions of Google Analytics?
Yes, you can continue using the older versions of Google Analytics for now. However, it is recommended to start transitioning to Google Analytics 4 as it is the future of Google’s analytics platform and offers more advanced features and capabilities.
5. How do I get started with Google Analytics 4?
To get started with GA4, make a new property in your existing Google Analytics account. You can begin monitoring user behavior after adding the code to your website. When getting GA4 up and running, Google has you covered with documentation and resources.
Google Analytics 4 is a terrific tool for marketing agencies since it provides a deeper understanding of the customer journey and better data analysis capabilities. With deeper integration with Google Ads, a customer-centric measurement approach, reorganized reporting, and a privacy-centric design, Google Analytics 4 provides marketers with valuable insights to optimize their marketing strategies.