Posted: 17 Mar 2022 Contributor: Ghia Marnewick
Google Analytics 4: A Guide For Marketers In The Cookieless Era
Despite being one of the OG’s for data analytics online, a new generation of Google Analytics is available for all websites across the internet to utilize. But what makes it different? How can it help drive traffic to a business's digital doorstep?
Google Analytics 4 is a highly popular platform to make use of, particularly in the cookieless era that many marketers are being faced with online. Formerly known as App + Web, it’s a new kind of property that offers a different variety of reports that might be useful for many marketers and businesses to make use of this year.
In this guide, you’ll learn why Google Analytics 4 is so important, the comparisons to older versions of the platform, and what makes it different.
Why is Google Analytics 4 so important?
Google Analytics 4 or GA4 as it’s commonly known, is poised to be the future of data analytics as we know it. There are many benefits to choosing Google Analytics over its predecessors and of course, other data analytic platforms on the market.
1. It’s forward-thinking in its approach.
If you are already frequent users of Google Analytics, this is the standard you’ll expect. GA4 will only be able to collect data from the moment it’s set up rather than having access to any historical data. It won’t import past data so it’s good to start implementing it straight away onto your site.
2. Upgrading is easy to do from previous versions.
Upgrading to GA4 is a simple process that takes very little effort, even for those who don’t do too well with navigating platforms like this. All you’ll need to do is go to google.com/analytics, navigate to your account in question, and under the property column, you’ll see an option that says ‘Upgrade to GA4’.
3. Better features to utilize.
Better features come with Google Analytics like predictive analysis for example. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning means you get further insight into the habits and behavior of your users.
Custom reports are available for users of the platform who want to better insights into the performance of their website. You can also track up to 300 events within this upgraded platform too.
4. Greater flexibility.
With Google Analytics 4, there’s more encouragement for its users to create custom reports based on the data they require. It makes for greater flexibility and an opportunity to tailor the platform to suit what you need specifically from it.
Faster access to data and detailed data helps the business to make more informed decisions on the website or app’s improvement. When you’re looking at how to track traffic on website, Google Analytics 4 is a great choice.
GA4 vs Universal Analytics (GA3)
There are some differences between the new Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics, otherwise known as GA3. Here’s what differs between the two platform versions:
Tracking your users
How the users are tracked, is slightly different from the GA4. In Universal Analytics, the users are tracked via sessions. These are set periods in which envelopes everything the user does on the site. With GA4, it’s event-based.
GA4 is event-based
With Google Analytics 4, everything is recorded for all the events that the user completes. It helps to understand what your users do on the site.
Another difference is the reporting. With UA, there are a number of set reports that come with customizations. GA4 has only top-level reports that are built-in. If you’re after specific records, you simply click the analysis tab. It helps to organize how your reports look and to find the key data you need.
How they’re set up
When it comes to Universal Analytics, it uses a property and view setup whilst the difference with GA4 is that it helps you mix data from your apps and the website.
There are many great Google Analytics 4 benefits that businesses may find useful to try out. With any Google analytics 4 review, the differences do add to the appeal for some users that may find it useful for their own benefit.
Which version is being used right now?
Both the GA4 and GA3 are being used across the many users of the platform. There’s an option to switch to Google Analytics 4 and you need to make the transition over as the Universal Analytics is not going to be functional from July 1, 2023.
How are events measured in GA4?
In GA4, the events can be split across four categories. These are Automatically Collected events, Enhanced Measurement events, Recommended events, and Custom events.
How you plan or structure your events can be done by checking the event is among those automatically collected events. If not, then you can check if it’s mentioned amongst the Enhanced Measurement events.
If you’re still not having any luck, then checking recommended events and their naming convention is next. Ultimately, if none of the above categories apply to the event, then you can create a custom event instead. So just to reiterate:
Automatically collected events - These are collected automatically when you set up data collection.
Enhanced measurement events - These events are collected automatically when you set enhanced measurements.
Recommended events - Recommended events are good to implement but with this one, you’ll be required to have predefined names and certain parameters.
Custom events - These are events you name and implement yourself. It’s worth noting that custom events don’t often show up in most standard reports.
How to set up Google Analytics 4
To set up Google Analytics 4, it’s fairly easy when you’ve already got a GA account. Here’s a step-by-step guide that you can follow to set up GA4.
- In Google Analytics, click on the Settings Admin.
- In the account column, ensure you’ve got the right account selected.
- When on the property column, select the UA property and click GA4 Setup Assistant.
- Click the get started underneath the ‘I want to create a new GA 4 property’.
- Click create property once you have enabled data collection using your existing tags.
Once you create the property, the setup wizard will do everything required to connect your properties together.
What features are missing in GA4?
There are a couple of features missing on Google Analytics 4. You can’t set up views and there are certain reports that are missing. This is something that not all users will enjoy lacking.
With Google Analytics 4 event tracking, there’s a lack of eCommerce support which is worth knowing for any online shops.
Is Google Analytics 4 better?
Do you need Google Analytics 4? Whilst GA4 is the future of data analytics, there’s no need to transfer over to this platform currently if you don’t wish to. It’s worth noting that marketers can use both of the properties alongside each other.
It’s recommended to do this because switching to GA4 is a bit like going cold turkey. It’s worth having both Universal and GA4 tags set up on your websites to help you learn and adapt to the new features in Google Analytics 4.
Moreover, if you’re new to setting up Google analytics, then it is recommended to start with Google Analytics 4 as Universal Analytics is going to stop processing any data from July 1, 2023.