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October 26, 2022

Star Digital’s Guide to Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4. It’s the new kid on the block, and they’re here to stay. If you’re still tracking your website traffic, digital marketing efforts, and customer journey’s using Universal Analytics,you really need to consider upgrading to GA4 sooner rather than later.

Don’t worry, there’s no diving into the deep end here. Read on for our guide to Google Analytics 4 and find out what it is, what it does,why it’s happening, why you need to upgrade, and the benefits it brings.


What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 is an analytics service that enables you to measure traffic and engagement across your websites and apps. It’s designed to help you dig deeper into your demographics to make key decisions using clear-cut data: what are your user’s doing, do they match your target audience,and what’s making them click on and off your website?

At its heart, Google Analytics 4 focuses on providing more data than Universal Analytics currently does throughout the entire lifecycle of your customer journey. Once you’ve acquired a customer, the data delivered can be endless, from their level of engagement, monetisation, and retention.


What does Google Analytics 4 do in a nutshell?

Designed for the future of measurement, Google Analytics 4 packs lots of features for you to better understand what’s working (and what’s not). But right off the bat, GA4 does 5 key things for your analytics:

  1. Collects both website and app data to better understand the customer journey
  2. Uses event-based data instead of session-based
  3. Includes privacy controls such as cookieless measurement, and behavioral and conversion modeling
  4. Predictive capabilities offer guidance without complex models
  5. Direct integrations to media platforms help drive actions on your website or app

Why is Google 4 Analytics happening?

 Like you, millions of businesses bank on Google Analytics to understand your customer’s preferences and create better experiences for them.Since the pandemic sped up the digital revolution, and with a cost of living crisis underway, insights from tools like Analytics are more critical than ever.

With these major shifts in consumer behaviour, as well as changes in privacy laws, Universal Analytics’ current approach wasn’t, in Google’s opinion, cutting the mustard. Universal Analytics doesn’t give you a complete view of the customer journey, so Google decided to upgrade your experience.


Why should I upgrade to Google Analytics 4?

Unless you’re looking to lose your data and fall behind your competitors, you’ll need to upgrade sooner rather than later. Why? We’ll explain below.

Whilst Google Analytics 4 has been available for use since 2020, it’s only just decided to shutdown Universal Analytics. From 1st July 2023, all standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits. That means your websites activity won’t be recorded – at all.

And you’ll only have until the end of December 2023 to access that historical data before it’s gone forever. With all that data going straight in the trash, you’ll ideally need to have everything set up and running correctly by the end of this year – 2022! – to get a year’s worth of comparative data between GA4 and Universal Analytics.


How does Google Analytics 4 differ to Universal Analytics?

We know that Google weren’t happy with what you could (and couldn’t see) when analysing your customer journey’s. So, a major focus for the upgrade is that it’s customer journey view is a lot more rounded. But that comes with lots of benefits and upgrades to what Universal Analytics currently offers.

To save you from getting stuck down a rabbit hole of benefits and differences, here’s the key upgrades you need to know:

1. Customer focused approach to measurement

A major focus for the upgrade from Universal Analytics to GA4 is a more customer-centric approach to tracking your customer journey. To allow you to know exactly where your customers are coming from and the actions they take whilst interesting with your business, GA4 uses multiple identity spaces such as marketer-provided User IDS and unique Google signals from users opted-in to ad personalisation. This paints a more complete picture of how your customers interact, and how their behaviour changes over time.

2.    Deeper integration to create clearer customer journeys

Universal Analytics lets you measure a lot of things, however GA4 takes this deeper than ever. You can now see in-app and web conversions for Google Ads, YouTube Ads,  non-Google paid channels such as Facebook, and organic channels like search, social, and email. This mobile and app data collaboration helps simplify how you measure the overall impact of all of your marketing efforts, together at once.

By doing this, you’ll get a much clearer understanding of your customers entire journey. For example, if a user visits your website on their mobile, then again on their desktop, and then purchase a product through your app, GA4 will allow you to piece that puzzle together and understand your user journey’s more accurately.

3.    Revolutionised reporting

Google’s goal was to simplify tracking customers throughout the funnel. So, when it came to reporting via analytics,they’ve added a new section – aptly titled ‘Life Cycle’ – which will include reports for acquisition, engagement, monetisation, and retention. Universal Analytics only offers acquisition reports, so you’ll now have even more ways to easily understand all the data on your customers.

Better yet, GA4 offers the ‘Analysis’ section, which offers up templates to analyse conversions, user journeys,cohorts and more. Basically, if PDF’s and spreadsheets make you tick, you’rein.


What do I need to do now?

How you make the switch from Universal Analytics to GA4 depends entirely on how it’s currently set up - if you’ve got it set up at all(and you really should!). Whether you need a hand moving everything you’re already measuring over or wouldn’t mind some help getting started on your Google Analytics 4 journey, get in touch with us today to stay ahead of your competition.

Written by
Jack Press
Astronaut - Moon - Star DigitalAstronaut - Moon - Star Digital