Google Analytics 4: What it is and why you need it
Google Analytics has been a mainstay of web analytics since 2005. The current version, Universal Analytics (UA), revolutionised web analytics by providing insights into who’s using your website and how. Last year Google announced it will replace UA with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in July 2023.
Google has labelled GA4 as their “next-generation measurement solution”. It’s designed to meet the needs of modern, digital businesses faced with changing technology and evolving consumer behaviour. GA4 aims to deliver more sophisticated, user friendly, and data-driven analytics.
An event based model
GA4 moves from the current session based approach to one more centred around events in the user journey. All the familiar session data remains, but there’s a greater emphasis on reviewing specific events to help drive improvements.
It aims to provide all-in-one data monitoring. This should make it easy to track visitors across multiple devices and platforms. And to drill down into the data, helping businesses make better informed improvements. These might include refining user flows, increasing key calls to action and improving overall usability and impact.
GA4 also aims to tackle data privacy more sensitively. And to help unify Google’s suite of services, by integrating more seamlessly with Google Tag Manager and Google Ads.
Delving into Google Analytics 4 “Explorations”
A new function called “Explorations” helps you delve deeper into the data, drill down into specific use cases and understand user flows through your website.
“Funnel explorations” lets you analyse user journeys and segment and breakdown your data. “Path explorations” lets you visualise these journeys through tree graphs.
Perhaps the most useful Explorations are “Free-form”. With this you can create filtered views for specific click events and form submissions. Often, the default Events reports don’t cover these in enough detail.
Integration with Google Tag Manager
GA4 is designed to integrate seamlessly with Google Tag Manager. Doing so lets you add and manage tracking scripts for a range of services – including GA and Facebook Pixels – without having to edit the code on your site.
GTM’s inbuilt functionality makes it easy to track and send custom events to GA4. This includes bespoke E-commerce tracking, such as complex form submissions. And monitoring phone number and email address clicks.
Using GTM alongside GA4 gives you access to a host of rich data, helping you understand: – exactly how your visitors use your website
- the way they behave when they do
- what you can do to improve conversions.
Migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4
After 1st July 2023 Universal Analytics will no longer process new hits. The migration process will vary depending on how you use UA. The most important step is to get a GA4 property up and running as soon as possible. Gathering as much data as possible in Google Analytics 4 will allow easy comparison with previous UA data. This will also give you a big sample size for better goal setting and conversion tracking.
Google provides tools and documentation to help migrate the more complex aspects of Analytics as painlessly as possible.
For help with your web analytics, data gathering and other digital needs:
Call Matt Johnson on 01284 830888.
Or email email@example.com.