Google Analytics has always been one of the most important tools in a digital marketers toolkit. Google Analytics 4 is now designed to give marketers more data at their fingertips by allowing you to analyze important customer usage metrics. This allows you to go a level or even two levels deeper than you could with Universal Analytics, allowing you to track more engagement and user metrics rather than just high-level metrics of the past.
GA4 was introduced in October 2020 and has been rapidly advancing, changing, and getting updates. The new version is much different than “Universal Analytics” with many beneficial features for tracking a website’s performance, such as:
- Predictive analysis and insights using Artificial Intelligence
- Deeper Google Ads Integration
- More customer data and focus on customer interaction
- Cookie-less Analytics
Google Analytics 4 is designed to give you key insights that enable you to create the perfect customer journey, to maximize success. While Universal Analytics or Google Analytics 3 will continue to be available till 2023, Google recommends running it parallel to Google Analytics 4 since historical insights in Universal Analytics won’t be available in GA4.
Universal Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4
The key differences that set Universal Analytics and Google Analytics apart are-
- Google Analytics 4 has a new analytics dashboard interface that will not have the old default reports or features of Universal Analytics.
- Unlike Universal Analytics, which uses a model based on sessions and pageviews, the Google Analytics 4 model measures events and parameters, an event driven model.
- Universal Analytics’ Goals are now Google Analytics 4 Conversions. As compared to Universal Analytics where users are allowed a maximum of 20 “goals,” GA4, allows users to allot 30 conversions in total.
- Customized code needs to be added to track user events in Universal Analytics, unlike GA4 where it is already built into the platform so marketers can track events automatically.
- Unlike Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 will not depend solely on cookies to track customer data owing to the increased user privacy laws.
That’s not all. GA4 also comes along with a set of new metrics that takes things one step further than Universal Analytics did with engagement metrics like:
- Engaged sessions
- Engagement rate
- Engagement time
Benefits of Google Analytics 4 for tracking and insights
From a data-driven marketing standpoint, Google Analytics 4 gives you deeper insights than we have ever seen in Universal Analytics. This is what makes it really exciting, previously you’d have to use other tools like Mixpanel to gain these insights, but now, with GA4, they are all under one roof, so to speak. GA4 is also making integrations with Google Ads standpoint, Here are some examples:
- Cross-Platform Tracking
Universal Analytics was a manual process and it took a lot of time and effort to track users on multiple platforms. With Google Analytics 4 you are given the ability to track both web and app data in one property. This is possible by assigning unique user IDs during the app or website login. This is only beneficial if you have a method to identify users. This can be anything from an email address or a filled form on a login page. Otherwise, you would also enable Google Signals, to track your users for as long as they’re logged into their Google account and have ad personalization turned on.
With the help of cross-platform tracking, you can have a broader view of a customer’s journey. This includes factors like engagement, acquisition, retention, and monetization. Google Analytics 4 can be used to track user experience from the beginning to the end, across multiple platforms.
This information is incredibly useful for marketers since it allows a better understanding of the cross-platform experience for your customers. This information can also be used to gather data for an unspecified population to build more accurate customer models.
- More than session-level measurements
Universal Analytics considered page views to be one of the most important metrics for customer interaction. Other metrics like events, screen time, and transactions, were tracked extensively. On the other hand, Google Analytics 4 collects and stores all user interactions as separate events. While users can still view universal analytic’s session-level reporting, the ability to break it down by interaction gives users an in-depth understanding of their customers, individually.
- AI Insights for Predictive Metrics
GA4’s powered predictive metrics can help you make broader data-driven decisions. Predictive analytics can greatly impact retargeting campaigns for businesses. Goggle Analytics includes the following three metrics that allow users to create audiences based on their predicted behaviors.
- purchase probability
- churn probability
- revenue prediction
You can then target these audiences within Google Ads campaigns. Not only can these metrics help in improving the success of retargeting campaigns but also the performance of a website. Based on customer behaviors and requirements you can create custom funnels for diverse audiences.
- More Control
Contrary to Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 offers users more flexibility and control over the collected data. With GA4 you can build your own dashboard, which enables you to see the reports that matter most to your business. GA4 also works well with Google Data Studio, allowing you to create custom visualizations of the data collected.
- Expanded segmentation capabilities.
GA4 has expanded segmentation that allows you create segments based on user, events, and sessions on your website or application. Once you track segments there are conditions in those segments that evaluate dimensions, metrics, and events. This gives you a more accurate result when tracking customer interactions and behaviors. Google has a segment builder allowing you to take advantage of all of these features.
- Less Reliance on Cookies
Privacy laws are beginning to crack down on cookie tracking, which is why Google Analytics 4 is helping marketers track conversion data while preserving consumer privacy. Over the last year, privacy has thrown Facebook Ads tracking for a loop and it’s become top of mind for marketers as we move to a “pixel-less world.” Google Analytics 4 offers customers a consent opt-in for analytics and ads so that marketers can gather information about their visitors without violating privacy laws. The opt-in option also offers data deletion capabilities. With the fall in tracking cookies, marketers will need to build better relationships with their customers and prove their data is secure.
Google Analytics 4 can prove to be a powerful analytics tool and provide invaluable insights if and when used to its fullest potential. When you make a new GA4 property, you will have to add it as a property in your existing Google Analytics account. While you won’t have historical insights in GA4, you can run it alongside Universal Analytics so you can look back.
Sounds like it’s time to implement Google Analytics 4 before it’s too late, doesn’t it?