Today’s multi-platform eCommerce system requires an integrated data system to match it. Creating a better experience for your customers online means having robust analytics to map the customer’s journey. Google Analytics 4 was introduced to address these evolving measurement standards, and we like what we’re seeing. By July 1, 2023, Google Analytics 3, also known as Universal Analytics, will be absolute, and GA4 will be the official standard for analytics.
If you’re ready to take actionable steps in evolving your measurement standards, we suggest you make the upgrade to GA4 sooner rather than later. To help ease the switch, we’re going to explain what new features make Google Analytics 4 the new go-to solution for website analytics.
GA4: Enhanced Measurement Model
One main difference with the new GA4 platform is how users are tracked. In Universal Analytics (UA), users were tracked by sessions or pageviews. It was designed around the premise that page views are the most valuable data element to track. The problem with this measurement model is that data was limited to site visits or URLs, and couldn’t provide much information in understanding a customer’s behavior.
On the other hand, GA4’s measurement model is based entirely on events or parameters. It is built around the concept that pageviews or sessions don’t necessarily reflect enough data to understand the customer’s buying journey. This is why tracking events such as video plays, transactions, social interactions, scrolls, downloads, and button clicks became essential.
Every activity tracked by a user is considered an event that triggers data tracking. This event-driven model creates a single journey from all the data associated with that single user ID. This offers a more unified tracking system, vs being bound to independent sessions. It also provides valuable information into how the user interacts with your website, providing insight to better optimize it.
GA4: Improved Reporting and Tracking
Thanks to this enhanced measurement model, we’re now able to track more behaviors or events with the user in GA4. Not only that, but you can easily turn these events into Goals. This can be done via the “Events” > “All Events” Section by simply clicking the toggle button beside the event.
Not only is it much easier to create goals vs the previous way, but you are also allowed up to 30 goals (vs 20 in Universal Analytics). Another welcomed improvement is that these goals are applied retroactively. When you toggle one Goal off, it frees up room for a new slot (which was not the case in UA).
GA4 also allows users to create custom reports for the data they need. This significantly reduces irrelevant, premade reports. While UA provided loads and loads of data, it was presented in a very unorganized manner and presented on a cluttered dashboard. This new funnel reporting approach allows you to make more informed decisions quickly, and improve the effectiveness of your website.
GA4: New User ID Method
Another flaw with Universal Analytics was the way users were identified. If the user cleared their browser cookies, browsed in incognito mode, and used a different browser or a different device from their last session, they became a new individual user each time.
One solution to this was for websites that had a log-in feature. Once logged into the website, a user ID could be created and track the user regardless of the device or browser they are visiting from. However, the user had to stay signed in. Once logged out, the unique user tracking could no longer continue.
GA4 now has an improved new User ID method for more consistent tracking. The new User ID lets you associate your own identifiers with individual users so you can connect their behavior across different sessions and on various devices and platforms. Analytics interprets each user ID as a separate user, which provides you with more accurate user counts and a more organic story about a user’s relationship with your business.
Google Analytics: Predictive Audience Metrics
Another significant difference is how GA4 leverages machine learning to predict behavior. These advanced metrics can interpret users’ behaviors and use that data to predict future transactions. These insights can then enable marketers to target ads to visitors that are more likely to make a purchase within the next 7 days.
This advanced technology helps future-proof revenue by providing critical insights to improve targeting capabilities. It also helps businesses identify and understand the customers that are the most interested in purchasing their product or services and create advertising opportunities for those specific users.
Now that Google has confirmed the date as to when Universal Analytics will be depreciated, it’s time to get serious about educating yourself on GA4. Google Analytics 4 is on track to be a more powerful tool for providing relevant data about the customer’s interaction with your site. If you’re interested in learning more about GA4 or other ways to increase the effectiveness of your website, contact our team.