Why Google Analytics 4 is an epic upgrade – if you’re prepared

It’s the end of a marketing era. On 1 July 2023, Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) will officially be over. If you haven’t already moved to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), it’s time to bite the bullet. GA4 won’t keep your old data, and standard UA will stop processing any new data it receives. This means you won’t have any information to use unless you have a pre-set-up and activated GA4. Our advice? Start setting up right now.

Here’s how:

1.    Get to know GA4

The move to GA4 will bring improved agility, tailored reports and faster access to real-time data. In other words, you’ll be able to do more, learn more and make better decisions than you could with UA.

Here’s how it’s different from UA:

  • Session-based data will become event-based data. GA4 operates across platforms without relying exclusively on cookies. Instead, it uses an event-driven data model to deliver user-centric measurement with privacy at its core. You’ll need to re-interpret your user data, focusing on interactions throughout the customer journey.
  • Tracked screen views and page views from mobile devices and websites, together or separately. This format will allow you to better understand the customer journey. Consider the increased visibility when comparing page view and screen view metrics combined, including cookie-less measurement and behavioural and conversion modelling.
  • GA4 data can be blended with other data sources. Leverage machine learning by using data-driven attribution on GA4 or by plugging into Big Query and running your own custom machine learning models.
  • More effective dashboards with room for granular data. With a lower barrier to entry, granular reports can finally tie into your internal sources truth. Data will be blended and formatted to provide the insights you want.

2.    Optimise your GA4 setup

You have a chance to start fresh with your data collection and analytics. Don’t replicate what you have. Instead, set up your GA4 for the future.

Here are the seven steps to maximise effectiveness:

1. Audit your current tracking setup. Do an in-depth analysis of your current analytics system. If you’re unsure where to look, SpeakData can show you how to improve your data collection.

2. Optimise account structure, security and data streams. Set up your GA4 analytics for Google, Facebook or other platforms so you can better understand your customers’ behaviour. This builds a solid foundation for your analytics, where data collection is key.

3. Review compliance with privacy regulations. GA4 extra privacy features mean it’s now compliant with New Zealand laws. If you’re an international company, double-check all privacy regulations before you get started.

4. Develop tracking and visibility of key customer conversion. In GA4, you can mark up to 30 events as conversions without changing your website. Understanding where purchases originated will help you determine the quality of the source and each campaign’s performance.

5. Dramatically boost your return-on-ad spend. By linking GA4 to your Google Ads account, data will flow between both platforms. This allows you to push your conversion data and access new dimensions in the user acquisition report.

Build dashboards that interact with your team before turning off UA. Capture all requirements in GA4 and have a major head start in July.

3.    Allow time to adjust

Your executive team will need time to adapt to the new metrics and reporting. Fortunately, if you set it up now, you can see your existing UA stats alongside new GA4 data. You’ll have time to build a deeper understanding of the differences and how to improve going forward.

Make sure to start downloading your UA data now. You’ll still be able to access this for six months from 1 July, but it won’t be automatically migrated to your GA4 account.

Capture the opportunity

Google’s impending deadline may be the reason to switch to GA4, but it’s also an unmissable chance to upgrade beyond the “vanity metrics”, like bounce rate, page view, and number of visitors or sessions.  Start gleaning genuine, actionable insights from your web tracking while getting in shape for the privacy-compliant, cookie-less world that’s coming.

While Google will offer a setup assistant to help you set up a GA4 account, it will only provide you with a basic out-of-the-box configuration.

If you need help upgrading your GA4 set up, MA’s Data Content Sponsor SpeakData would be happy to assist. You can book a call with a SpeakData consultant today.