Universal Analytics (UA) has been the go-to platform for marketers and business owners seeking to understand user behavior and assess marketing campaign performance for years.
While UA offers numerous advantages, such as single-user ID tracking, versatile configuration options, and offline data access, it has limitations, particularly in today’s multi-platform landscape.
In response to the evolving needs of users and changing measurement standards, Google launched Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a powerful tool designed to keep up with the dynamic digital ecosystem.
In this blog, we delve into the specifics of the GA4 upgrade and address the questions, “What is GA4?” and “Should you upgrade to Google Analytics 4?”. Let’s explore the changes in GA4 compared to Universal Analytics and why transitioning to the new platform is beneficial.
What is GA4?
GA4 is a cross-platform analytics solution that empowers marketers to measure and track data from websites and apps. It represents the latest iteration of Google’s popular analytics platform, offering enhanced capabilities to take control of digital marketing campaigns.
The motivation behind developing GA4 was to address the perceived deficiencies of Universal Analytics, primarily anchored in the desktop web and not well-suited to the multi-platform experiences users now enjoy.
Marketers needed a more robust solution to measure and analyze these diverse user experiences and gain better insights into their behavior.
GA4 is a next-generation measurement solution that unifies app and website data within a single Google Analytics integration. The data storage and processing mechanisms have been overhauled, enabling new ways to measure and analyze user traffic.
Additionally, GA4 introduces new reporting features that provide more detailed insights into user interactions with websites and apps.
Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics
GA4 is not just a rebrand of Universal Analytics; it is a complete software rebuild with an array of new features that improve the analytics experience. Here are the key changes in GA4 compared to Universal Analytics:
GA4 no longer focuses on tracking sessions or pageviews; instead, it tracks events. Events allow marketers to follow a wide range of user actions and gain context on user interactions with their websites or apps.
For example, besides knowing when a user visits a specific page, GA4 enables tracking events like completing a blog post or checking out a product. Moreover, GA4 allows the creation of custom events to track additional interactions, offering more versatility.
Enhanced Search Bar
The search bar in GA4 has been upgraded to provide fast and detailed insights. Users can enter various search queries to access specific information without multiple clicks. Additionally, the search bar offers access to Google Support documentation during GA4 setup, providing valuable guidance for completing tasks.
While Universal Analytics allowed certain elements to be customized, GA4 takes customization to a higher level. Marketers can create complex events to track specific actions for a single GA4 property, enabling detailed tracking of user interactions, including interactions influenced by Google Ads.
Custom dashboards with up to 50 custom insights offer essential information for understanding user behavior.
Integration With Other Apps
GA4’s event-based tracking can be integrated with various apps to optimize data usage. The platform supports predefined events, custom events, and integration with Google Ads for improved campaign performance analysis. Data can also be exported to Google BigQuery, allowing marketers to combine datasets and extract more insights using SQL queries.
Machine Learning Analytics
GA4 incorporates machine learning analytics to offer predictive insights into user behavior. By analyzing data from user behavior, demographics, devices, locations, and other sources, GA4’s machine learning models can predict user actions, such as the likelihood of completing a purchase or abandoning a cart.
While the predictive capabilities are in their early stages, they are expected to expand further.
Upgrading to Google Analytics 4: Embrace the Change
As the digital landscape evolves, adapting to new technologies and analytics platforms becomes crucial for businesses seeking to stay competitive and relevant. One such transition gaining attention is the move from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Many website owners and marketers may wonder whether it’s worth switching or if they can stick with the familiar Universal Analytics. However, the decision to upgrade to GA4 is not a matter of “if” but rather “when,” as Google has clarified that Universal Analytics will eventually be phased out.
While some may be hesitant about this mandatory upgrade, it is essential to recognize the significant benefits that GA4 brings to the table. By embracing GA4, businesses can use improved tracking capabilities and gain deeper insights into user behavior across multiple platforms and devices.
With a focus on events-based data collection, GA4 offers a more comprehensive understanding of user interactions, enabling businesses to make informed decisions and optimize their online presence effectively.
One key consideration during the migration process is data transfer. Unfortunately, migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4 does not allow for a seamless data transfer. This means historical data from the previous analytics setup cannot be directly imported into GA4.
However, this should not deter businesses from moving forward with the transition. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of starting the GA4 setup as soon as possible to build a new repository of historical data for the future.
Google Analytics Experts strongly recommend taking action promptly to avoid any data tracking disruption and ensure continuity in data analysis. Waiting until the last minute could lead to losing valuable insights and hinder the ability to analyze long-term trends effectively.
Moreover, delaying the transition could have more severe consequences for those utilizing Universal Analytics 360, as the support for this premium version will end on July 1, 2024. Businesses relying on Analytics 360 must proactively implement GA4 to avoid data collection and reporting disruptions.
In conclusion, upgrading to Google Analytics 4 is not an option but is necessary for businesses looking to thrive in the digital age. Embracing this change will unlock new opportunities for data analysis and empower businesses with valuable insights into user behavior.
Although data migration may not be possible, the sooner companies start with GA4, the faster they can begin accumulating essential historical data. So, please don’t wait until it’s too late—leap and transition to GA4 to secure your online presence’s data-driven and prosperous future.
Getting Started With Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a powerful tool that enables businesses to analyze website and app data effectively. To start using GA4, follow these steps:
Sign In or Create a Google Account
If you already have a Google account, log in using your credentials. If not, create a new Google account.
Access Google Analytics Home Page
Visit the Google Analytics home page (https://analytics.google.com/) and click the “Start measuring” button to set up your account.
Create Your Analytics Account
Fill in the necessary information to create your Analytics account, such as your account name, country, and time zone. Click “Next” to proceed.
Set Up Your Google Analytics 4 Property
Now, you’ll need to create your first GA4 property. Enter a name for the property, select a reporting time zone, and choose a currency. Click “Next” to continue.
Note: All data will be recorded in the selected reporting time zone and currency. For instance, if a visitor’s activity occurs on a Tuesday in their time zone but on a Monday in your selected time zone, it will be recorded as a Monday.
Specify Your Business Details:
Select an industry category and business size that best represents your organization. Click “Next” to proceed.
Define Your Purpose for Using Google Analytics:
Choose the purpose for which you intend to use Google Analytics. The platform will provide default report collections based on the information you provide. Click “Next” to continue.
Accept Terms of Service and Data Processing Amendment
Read through the Analytics Terms of Service and the Data Processing Amendment carefully. If you agree to them, click “Accept” to proceed.
Create Your Property
After accepting the terms, click “Create” to finalize the creation of your property. Congratulations, you have now successfully created your first GA4 property.
Adding a Data Stream
Before collecting data, you must specify the source by adding a data stream. Follow the steps below to add a data stream.
Access the Admin Panel
Once in the GA4 dashboard, click the Admin icon (gear icon) in the lower-left corner.
Choose Account and Property:
From the Admin panel, select the appropriate account and property to which you want to add the data stream.
Add Data Stream
Under the Property section, click “Data Streams” and select “Add stream.”
Choose the Source
Select the data source for which you want to add the data stream. You can choose from an iOS app, Android app, or Web.
For iOS and Android Apps
Enter all the app details, including the app name, Android package name, iOS bundle ID, and App Store ID (for iOS).
Click “Register app” and then “Next.”
Follow the on-screen instructions to download your app’s config file and add the Google Analytics for Firebase SDK to your app.
Run the app to verify that the SDK is installed and communicating with Google servers.
Click “Finish” to complete the setup.
Add your website’s name and the name of the data stream.
Click “Create Stream” to finish setting up the data stream.
You’re ready to start collecting data for your GA4 property and gain valuable insights into user behavior on your website or app. Explore the various reports and features GA4 offers to make data-driven decisions and improve your online presence.
Adding Google Analytics 4 to a Website With Existing Universal Analytics
If you already have an existing Universal Analytics (UA) account and want to transition to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), follow these step-by-step instructions:
Log in to Your Google Analytics Account Using Your Credentials
Once logged in, click the “Admin” button in the screen’s lower left corner. This will take you to the Admin section of your Google Analytics account.
Ensure that the correct Analytics account is selected if you have multiple accounts associated with your login.
Under the “Property” column, select the UA property currently collecting traffic data for your website.
Look for the “GA4 Setup Assistant” option. If you can’t find it, it’s possible that you don’t have the necessary permissions (Editor or Administrator) to make changes. In this case, contact the account administrator to grant you access.
Once you have located the “GA4 Setup Assistant,” click on it to proceed.
On the next screen, you’ll be presented with a statement asking if you want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property. Click on “Get started” to proceed with the transition.
Now, you have two possible scenarios:
- If you see the option to “Create and continue,” choose this option to set up a Google tag for your website.
- Alternatively, seeing the “Create property” option means that Analytics can reuse your existing UA tagging for your GA4 property. This option creates a connected site tag between your UA and GA4 properties.
If you selected “Create and continue,” follow the on-screen instructions to set up a Google tag on your website. You can install the Google tag manually or choose a different option depending on your situation.
After completing the instructions, you will see a confirmation message saying, “You have successfully connected your properties.” This indicates that the GA4 setup process is complete.
Your new GA4 property will appear as “[UA Property Name] – GA4” in your Google Analytics account. Open the Setup Assistant again to finalize the setup and take advantage of GA4’s features. The Setup Assistant will guide you through the recommended features for your GA4 property.
Following these steps, you’ll seamlessly transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 and unlock new insights and capabilities for your website’s data analysis.
Adding Google Analytics 4 to a Website Builder Platform or CMS
It is a straightforward process that can provide valuable insights into website traffic and user behavior.
If your website is hosted on a CMS like Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, Magento, or any other supported platform, you can easily integrate Google Analytics 4 following the platform-specific instructions. Here’s a general overview of the steps you can take:
Sign Up for Google Analytics
If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account, sign up for one by visiting the Google Analytics website (analytics.google.com) and following the registration process.
Create a New Google Analytics 4 Property
Once you have a Google Analytics account, create a new property for your website by providing relevant information, such as the website name, URL, and time zone. Google Analytics will then generate a unique tracking ID for your property.
Access Your Website Builder Platform or CMS
Log in to your chosen Website Builder Platform or CMS (e.g., Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, etc.) and access your website’s dashboard or settings.
Locate the Analytics Integration Option
In the dashboard or settings of your platform, look for the section related to website analytics or tracking codes. The location of this option may vary depending on the platform you are using.
Enter the Google Analytics Tracking ID
In the analytics integration section, you should find a field to enter your Google Analytics tracking ID. Paste the unique tracking ID generated in Step 2 into this field and save the changes.
Verify the Integration
After saving the changes, verify that the Google Analytics tracking code is successfully added to your website. You can do this by returning to your Google Analytics account and checking the real-time data or by waiting some time and reviewing the data in the “Reporting” section.
Utilize Google Analytics
Once Google Analytics is set up and tracking data, you can explore the various reports and insights it provides. Gain valuable information about your website’s visitors, behavior, traffic sources, popular content, and more.
Optimizing Your Digital Marketing Strategy With GA4
It can significantly improve your understanding of your audience and enhance the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. By utilizing the following essential tips, you can maximize your results and make informed decisions based on valuable insights:
Create Triggers Based on Key Audience Milestones
GA4 provides an extensive list of suggested audiences based on specific triggers, allowing you to segment your audience more effectively. These triggers include signing up with a registered email, performing searches, streaming content, completing tutorials, or abandoning carts.
By understanding how users interact with your website and move through the customer journey, you gain valuable insights for optimizing your marketing strategy.
Enable Enhanced Measurement
After setting up GA4, some events are automatically created but are not reported or available for creating audiences until you enable enhanced measurement.
You can use events like form interactions, file downloads, and video engagements by toggling on the Enhanced Measurement feature in the Admin section under Data Streams > Web. This enables more comprehensive tracking and audience creation.
Tracking micro-conversions is crucial as they represent smaller engagements users make before completing a conversion. GA4 allows you to set certain events as conversions, such as completing a tutorial, downloading a white paper, or adding items to the shopping cart.
Assigning a monetary value to these micro-conversions helps quantify their impact on your bottom line, allowing you to focus on the most valuable actions.
Custom Reporting for More Insight
GA4 provides various report collections tailored to specific business objectives and industry categories.
Utilize the Life Cycle Collection to understand the customer journey, the App Developer Collection for in-app user experience, the Business Objectives Collection for tailored business reports, the Games Reporting Collection for game apps, and the User Collection for insights into your website or app users.
You can also create custom reports within each collection to extract more profound insights.
By leveraging these tips and using GA4 to its full potential, you can optimize your digital marketing strategy and make data-driven decisions that lead to more successful outcomes. Remember that GA4 is a powerful tool that can provide valuable insights, but its effectiveness ultimately depends on how well you align it with your marketing goals and strategies. Regularly analyze and interpret the data to refine your approach and drive better results.
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Advantages of Good Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 brings many advanced features, including machine learning, predictive analysis, and seamless Google Ads integration, that can revolutionize your marketing campaigns.
To tap into this potential and start benefiting from the new features while building valuable historical data for your GA4 property, it’s essential to complete your Google Analytics account setup. If you haven’t done so already, Web Welder team of experts recommends taking this step as early as possible.
Web Welder Google Analytics setup service simplifies the transition and ensures you maximize GA4’s capabilities. Our team of skilled professionals will guide you through the setup process, enabling you to harness the power of data to fuel your digital marketing campaigns successfully.
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