Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Benefits: The Time to Switch Is Now

Understand & Transform
January 25, 2023

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the most recent version of Google Analytics, which unifies data from websites and apps. It will replace the current version of GA (Universal Analytics) on July 1, 2023. If you haven’t started thinking about the move yet, it’s time to!  

Switching to Google Analytics 4 has been on every digital marketer's mind since Google announced the end of Universal Analytics last year. Now we’re into 2023, the sunset of Universal Analytics is creeping up, and if you haven’t already, it's time to make the leap.  

If you’ve been putting it off or feeling overwhelmed about the change, you’re not alone. In fact, at the end of last year, only 32% of websites with Universal Analytics implemented GA4, and on top of that, only 2% had enabled events!

We’ve put together some things you need to know about GA4, but if you need a hand implementing the change or learning more, let’s chat.

GA4 overview

GA4 is the fourth version of Google Analytics. The earlier three versions evolved as follows:  

  1. GA1: Classic Google Analytics which uses the ga.js JavaScript library
  2. GA2: Universal Analytics (UA) which uses the analytics.js JavaScript library
  3. GA3: Also, Universal Analytics (UA) but uses the gtag.js JavaScript library

Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics: What are the key changes?

Universal Analytics is very focused on traffic data – it collects and analyses data from every user session, and interactions are categorised into time periods. GA4, on the other hand, employs a flexible event-based model that analyses customer usage metrics.  

Because GA4 uses an entirely different data model, historical data will not be carried over from UA to GA4. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to access the historical data that is stored in UA; however, UA will no longer record new data from July 1st, 2023.  

As with all changes, GA4 will take some time to get used to, so the sooner you complete your Google Analytics 4 setup, the better prepared you will be.

Some other key changes are:

  • A more comprehensive view of the customer journey, such as combining web and app interactions.
  • Improved machine learning and pattern recognition in data with more automatic alerts.
  • Reconfigured reporting based on the stage of the customer journey you're interested in (for example, user acquisition > engagement > retention). 
  • Bid farewell to GA4 Bounce Rate, hello Engaged Sessions! These new metric counts sessions that lasted over 10 seconds and had conversions or multiple page views.
  • Goals are no longer relevant. These have been replaced by events and conversions, with some tracking automatically without the need for an event to be set up.
  • No cookies? Not to worry. Google promises that in the future, conversion modelling will help fill in the gaps if some stringent user privacy regulations go into effect.

3 Things you can do to be ready for GA4

Google Analytics 4 setup to collect data

Creating and launching your new GA4 properties as soon as possible is critical.

Because properties will not be importing historical data from UA, your GA4 property will only begin tracking traffic data from the moment it is created and will continue to do so. The sooner you create it, the sooner data will appear in the GA4 property.

Start configuring GA4 to your needs

Things can get complicated quickly here, so we'll keep things as simple as possible. GA4 can be configured in various ways so that your property reports on events that you consider essential to your customer journey.

Configuration and event tags

When configuring Google Analytics 4, one of the first things you'll want to do is ensure that any configuration tags and event tags are correctly configured. A configuration tag essentially allows your website's web pages to communicate with GA4, while an event tag allows you to send custom events to GA4.

Know how to use data filters

We could segment data in Universal Analytics using 'views,' which can then be filtered. Google Analytics 4 does not use views, instead opting for a single reporting view with data filters that can be applied to your property. When applying data filters to your GA4 property, keep the following points in mind:

  • Each data filter you apply in GA4 permanently affects the related data.
  • Data filters do not affect historical data – they are in effect from the point of creation forward.
  • Test your filters before you apply them – you can’t set up a test view in GA4.

Design custom segments

Using segments to connect dots that you might not have been able to connect otherwise, you can narrow down the behaviours that your audiences show, answer difficult questions about the customer journey, and tell a story.

Sound a bit tricky? Let’s chat about how to configure your GA4 correctly.

GA stats that will blow your mind

To get some more riveting insights, we researched GA stats worldwide-

  1. Approximately 28.1 million use GA
  2. Google Analytics is used by 55.49% of all websites
  3. Google has the largest market share when it comes to web analytics
  4. Several European countries have banned google analytics
  5. Global analytics as a service market value is expected to be $59 billion by 2027
  6. Most of the companies using google analytics have 1-10 employees

Reach out to us for assistance

The Tera team is ready to guide you through this change and transition to ensure you’re using GA4 as best as possible! A few things we’ll chat about are:

Assessing your current digital analytics setup and reporting.

This will let us help you align your business goals with digital data and assess the current reporting state.

Developing a measurement plan.

This will involve developing a new strategic measurement framework to ensure data accuracy and suitability for business decisions.

Assisting with GA4 setup and configuration.

This step will let us set up and configure GA4 to meet reporting requirements. We can also provide training on how to use GA4 and interpret reports.

If you need a hand at any point along your GA4 journey, get in touch with us online through your Account Manager or call on (09) 300 1633.

Need help with GA4? Get in touch with us.

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