For years, Universal Analytics (UA) has been the primary platform used by marketers and business owners for understanding user behavior and measuring the results of their marketing campaigns.
The UA platform is a very useful tool that lets people:
- Use a single user ID for all activities.
- There are many ways to set up analytics.
- Use different tracking codes to get even more useful information from your users.
- Gain access to offline data
- Create custom metrics
Even though the analytics platform has a lot of good points, it still has some problems. For example, users have found that most of its features are deeply rooted in the desktop web, which makes it much harder to use in today’s multi-platform world. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a more powerful tool made to keep up with the changing ecosystem. It was made in response to the changing needs and measurement standards of users today.
In this blog, we talk about the details of the GA4 upgrade and try to answer the question, “What is GA4?” and “Should you upgrade to Google Analytics 4”? To do this, we’ll talk about what was different between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics and why you should switch.
What Is GA4?
GA4 is a cross-platform analytics tool that lets you measure and monitor data from websites and mobile apps. It is the most recent version of Google’s enormously well-liked analytics platform, and it offers improved analytics capabilities so you can manage your digital marketing campaigns.
Due to the perceived shortcomings of UA as a platform that was heavily reliant on the desktop web in today’s digital environment, GA4 was created to be a significant improvement over UA. Marketers require a more robust solution to measure today’s users’ multi-platform experiences and offer deeper insights into user behavior.
GA4 offers integrated app and website management measure capabilities within a single Google Analytics integration as the next-generation measurement solution. New methods for measuring and analyzing traffic usage are made possible by the platform’s completely different storage and processing of data from earlier iterations. New reporting features are also included, giving you more thorough information about how users are interacting with your website and app.
Google Analytics 4 Vs Universal Analytics
It’s crucial to recognize that Google Analytics 4 is a completely new version of the software when comparing it to Universal Analytics and analyzing what makes it different from the previous version. A number of new features are included in this rebuild with the goal of improving the analytics experience.
Here is a look at what changed in Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics:
Event-Based Tracking Provides More Valuable Data
The analytics platform no longer tracks sessions or pageviews following the GA4 upgrade. Instead, it records events, enabling you to monitor a variety of user behaviors and give context for what a user does while utilizing your website or app.
In UA, for example, you can only see when a user visits a particular page. In GA4, you can now determine whether a user has finished reading a blog post (by causing a scroll event) or has clicked on a product to view it.
You can create your own events to track additional interactions even though this new Google Analytics account setup only makes a few tracked events readily available.
Fast, Detailed Insights Are Provided by the Search Bar GA4 Upgrade
Now, the search bar can do more than just point you in the direction of pre-made reports. It is more effective than ever, enabling you to find the data you require based on different search queries.
For instance, you can search for “how many more visits this week than last” to find out the overall difference in page views you’ve experienced over time. You will then receive the solution in the search results without having to make a single click to access the information.
Once GA4 setup is complete, the search bar will also provide access to Google Support documentation. Even though this might seem like a small addition, it is actually very helpful when you require direction to complete a task.
Numerous Customization Possibilities
To give you more control over what you see, certain components of the Universal Analytics platform can be customized. When tracking user interactions, for instance, you can create your own custom dimensions, metrics, and events. To make it simpler for you to find the information you need, you can also create custom reports.
By enabling you to create intricate events that track incredibly specific actions for a single Google Analytics 4 property, GA4 extends this level of customization. For instance, you can monitor the number of users who purchased a specific item after reading a blog after clicking on your ad if you have a Google Ads integration in place.
In addition to these events, you can create a dashboard with up to 50 custom insights that provide essential data about user behavior. You can make these reports as detailed or as sparse as you like.
Other Apps Can be Integrated With Google Analytics
With just one Google Analytics 4 property, you can track all the metrics that are important to your company thanks to GA4’s robust event-based tracking functionalities. The platform allows you to use predefined events, modify them, or create brand-new events that can be as simple or intricate as you like.
You can integrate GA4 with a wide range of apps for optimized usage to help you make the most of your data. By providing information on impressions, ad clicks, and conversions, for instance, Google Ads integration can assist you in enhancing campaign performance. Additionally, you can export data to Google BigQuery, combine it with other data sets, and use SQL queries to glean additional insights.
Analytics for Machine Learning Provide Predictive Information
Access to historical campaign data, which enables you to gain insights that can guide your future campaigns, is a beneficial feature of Universal Analytics. However, GA4 goes one step further by incorporating machine learning analytics to deliver predictive user behavior insights.
In order to train its models and produce predictive insights about future behavior, GA4 machine learning analytics pull data from user behavior, device, location, demographics, and other sources rather than just providing you with historical data. By using these models, GA4 can then forecast whether a customer will finish a transaction or leave their cart empty.
In its early stages, GA4 can only make a few predictions. But as time goes on, these abilities will grow even more.
Please take note that if you have just finished setting up Google Analytics 4 you might only have access to a small amount of historical data. If you haven’t finished setting up GA4 yet, you might not be able to use predictive analytics until you do.
Upgrading To Google Analytics 4: Should You Do It?
You might be debating whether to move forward with the GA4 setup or stick with universal analytics at this point. Unfortunately, upgrading to Google Analytics 4 is essentially required as Universal Analytics will soon become obsolete.
So, rather than asking “if” you should upgrade to GA4 over your current Google Analytics integration, ask “when.” Before you lose all support from UA and all of your data on July 1, 2023 (July 1, 2024 for Analytics 360), Google urges you to switch as soon as possible.
What is GA4 migration all about? It is another query that users may make. Will you not ultimately lose all of your data? Sadly, that is accurate. With Google Analytics 4, you won’t be able to transfer your data. To begin compiling historical data for your new property, Google Analytics Experts advise completing the Google Analytics 4 set-up as soon as possible.
How To Get Started With GA4
You must first make sure you have administrator or editor privileges in order to use GA4. Then, you can select one of these three options to begin utilizing GA4:
Set Up Data Collection for the First Time
If you’re new to Analytics and want to begin gathering information for your website or app, take the following actions:
1. Open your Google account and log in. You should first create a Google account if you don’t already have one.
2. To create an account, go to the Google Analytics homepage and click the Start measuring button.
3. Complete the form to begin setting up your Google Analytics account.
4. To create your first Google Analytics 4 property, click Next.
5. Type the property’s name, select a reporting time zone, and then click Next.
Please take note that the reporting time zone and currency you choose will be used to record all traffic data. Visits that take place on a Tuesday in the time zone of the visitor but on a Monday in the time zone you’ve chosen will be counted as Mondays.
6. Choose a business size and an industry category, then click Next.
7. Decide on a goal for your use of Google Analytics.
Note: Default report collections are displayed in accordance with the data you supply. Please refer to the section on custom reporting below for more information on these reports.
8. Click Create to complete the creation of the property after accepting the Analytics Terms of Service and the Data Processing Amendment.
Your first property has just been created. However, you must first specify the data’s source by including a data stream before you can begin data collection. Including a data stream
1. Select the account and property you want to add the data stream to in Admin.
2. Select Data Streams from the Property menu, then add streams.
3. Choose a web source, an iOS app, or an Android app.
• For Android and iOS:
The app’s name, Android package name, iOS bundle ID, and App Store ID (for iOS) should all be entered.
Next, click Register app.
Click Next after downloading the app’s configuration file according to the on-screen directions.
Click Next after adding the Google Analytics for Firebase SDK as directed on the screen to your app.
To make sure the SDK is installed and the app is interacting with Google servers, run the application and then click Finish.
For the web:
Click Create stream and enter the name of your website and data stream.
Add Google Analytics 4 to a Website With Existing Universal Analytics
To switch from an existing Universal Analytics installation to Google Analytics 4, follow these steps:
1. Open your Google Analytics account and log in.
2. On the screen’s lower left, click the Admin button.
3. Verify your desired account is selected if you have multiple Analytics accounts.
4. Choose the UA property that gathers traffic information for your current website under the Property column.
5. Select GA4 Setup Helper.
Note: To make changes to your Analytics account, you must be an Editor or Administrator. You probably don’t have permission if you can’t see the Setup Assistant option. Please get in touch with the account’s administrator.
6. Click Get started next to the sentence I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property.
7. Select Create and carry on.
8. Depending on how your site is tagged, you will now be given one of two options:
• To proceed to the Set up a Google tag page, select Create and continue.
• Analytics can use your current UA tagging for your GA4 property if you see the option to “Create property.” Then, a connected site tag will be generated between your UA and GA4 properties.
9. If you selected Create and continue, you will now set up a Google tag on your website to complete the setup. To manually install your Google tag, follow the on-screen instructions, or select a different method depending on your circumstance.
10. When setting up GA4 is complete, you will see the message “You have successfully connected your properties” after following the instructions.
11. To complete the setup of your new GA4 property, which is now displayed as [UA Property Name] – GA4, open the Setup Assistant and follow the instructions to activate the suggested features.
Add Google Analytics 4 to a Website Builder Platform or CMS
If your website is hosted on a CMS like Wix, SquareSpace, Shopify, Magento, etc., there are several options available for setting up Analytics. You can find installation instructions for each platform on this Google Help page.
Supported platforms include the following:
• Google Sites
• MonsterInsights & ExactMetrics (Awesome Motive)
• Salesforce (Demandware)
• Site Kit (WordPress plugin)
How To Optimize Your Digital Marketing Strategy With GA4
GA4 is more than just a tool for marketers to collect and report on data. It can also be used to maximize your results by optimizing your marketing plan. Important pointers for optimizing your digital marketing approach with GA4 include the following:
Create Triggers Based on Key Audience Milestones
Audiences are typically divided up by marketing teams based on the sources of acquisition (social, paid, organic, or referral). With a long list of suggested audiences based on particular triggers, GA4 provides even more segmentation options, including those who:
• Signed up using a registered email address
• Performed different searches
• Streamed content
• Started, completed or didn’t complete a tutorial
• Added items to their wishlist
• Abandoned their carts
You can discover more about how users interact with your website and their path through the customer journey by using these new triggers. You gain more insightful information from this that you can use to improve your digital marketing plan.
Enable Enhanced Measurement
Following the completion of GA4 setup, a number of events, including the following, are automatically created:
• Form_start: User interacts with a form for the first time.
• Form_submit: User submits information through a form.
• File_download: User triggers a file download after clicking a link
• Video_start: User begins playing a video on the page
• Video_progress: User has reached certain milestones within the video
• Video_complete: User finishes watching a video
However, until you activate the enhanced measurement feature, these are not automatically reported and cannot be used to build audiences. Go to Admin > Data Streams > Web and turn On under Enhanced measurement to activate this feature.
However, make sure you’ve already determined which events are worthwhile for you to measure. You can create custom events or pick from a variety of other predefined events.
Micro Conversions are brief customer interactions that occur before a conversion is completed, such as viewing a product page prior to making a purchase. It’s crucial to monitor these conversions because they help you understand the buyer’s journey even better.
By allowing you to designate specific events as conversions, GA4 makes it simpler to measure microconversions. For instance, you can track things like downloading a white paper, finishing a tutorial, and adding items to a shopping cart. To do this, navigate to Admin > Events and choose the Mark as conversion for a particular event option.
To emphasize how valuable each event is, you can even give each microconversion a monetary value. Based on how much a step affects your bottom line, you can assign any value you want to these arbitrary values.
To attach a value to a conversion event:
• Go to Admin > Events.
• Click on Create event and choose a custom event from the table.
• Under the Parameter configuration section, click Add modification.
• Enter currency under the Parameter field and enter a currency type in the Value field.
• Then, select Add modification.
• Enter a value under the New value field.
• Finally, click Save.
Custom Reporting for More Insight
Utilize GA4’s improved reporting features to the fullest. You can pick from a variety of report collections based on the setup questions you answered. They consist of the following:
• Life Cycle Collection: This resource aides in your comprehension of every phase of the customer journey, from acquisition to retention.
• App Developer Collection: Data about the in-app user experience is summarized in the App Developer Collection. When you add the Google Analytics for Firebase SDK to an app in your GA4 property, this is automatically added.
• Business Objectives Collection: Based on the data you provide about your company, this service offers a specific set of reports. As soon as you enter business information during setup, it is available by default. The Life Cycle Collection, however, might be displayed in its place if
No business information was specified during setup, the property was created before March 27, 2023, and you migrated from a UA property using the Setup Assistant
• Games Reporting Collection: Aids in locating pertinent data for app-based game developers and marketers. When you select “Games” as your industry category or when you have at least one connected app data stream, this collection is automatically displayed.
• User Collection: Aids in understanding your website’s or app’s users. The User collection on the dashboard’s left side is open to everyone by default.
Each collection can have customized reports added to it as well as:
• Modify the main dimension
• Incorporate a second dimension
• Use a filter to display a subset of the data.
• Modify the time frame.
When you have Edit permission, you can access all of the report collections through the Report Library, which is located at the bottom of the left navigation.
Improve Your Reporting Capabilities With Google Analytics Experts From Digirocket Technologies
Universal Analytics is a powerful tool that has assisted business owners and marketers in improving their data-gathering and reporting capabilities in order to improve their marketing campaigns. These abilities can now be improved with GA4 thanks to machine learning, predictive analysis, better Google Ads integration, and more.
Suppose you haven’t finished setting up your Google Analytics account to transition to GA4 yet. If so, experts advise doing so as soon as you can to begin utilizing these new features and begin accumulating historical data for your Google Analytics 4 property. This is a fairly simple process. However, through its Google Analytics setup service, Thrive, a Google Analytics service provider, can also help you.
Digirocket Technologies is one of the top digital marketing firms and Google Analytics service providers in the United States. In order to create effective digital marketing campaigns that maximize your reach and conversion rates, we offer Google Analytics setup services. Use Digirocket’s Google Analytics consulting services to grow your company right away! To find out more about how our Google Analytics consulting services can help your company soar, contact us today and set up a consultation.