Why Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Should Matter to You
By Hari Dronavalli
The next gen of Google Analytics is here—here’s how you can prepare.
Google, the powerhouse in online search, is making a major upgrade to its analytics platform in 2023. Dubbed Google Analytics 4 (or simply GA4), these new features and tools aim to help website owners stay in compliance with new regulations, learn more about their website visitors, and gain a competitive edge in their industries.
If you checked your email any time in 2022, you already know that Google is sunsetting its Universal Analytics in favor of Google Analytics 4. But in case this is news to you, we’re sharing more on the upcoming Google Analytics 4 plan, why it matters, and what you can do to prepare now to avoid missing out on crucial website data.
What Is GA4?
GA4 is the name of the new Google Analytics platform that will replace the current Universal Analytics. This new platform isn’t just an upgrade to the existing set of analytics—the system has been completely redesigned to give users a better experience and improve core KPIs and concepts.
The new analytics platform promises several improvements, including:
- More insights into users’ experiences across devices and channels
- Integrations with media buying platforms, including Google Ads and Display & Video 360
- Predictions of customer behavior
- Access to insights derived from AI technologies, including machine learning
Overall, Google Analytics 4 will provide more insight into the customer journey, allowing you to create better experiences, improve your marketing, and meet your customers wherever they are.
Why Do Website Traffic Analytics Matter?
To understand the impact of the GA4 migration, you first need to recognize the value of monitoring and analyzing your website traffic. Website analytics like GA4 help website owners understand how users interact with the website. Knowing more about the customer journey allows you to make informed decisions on how to design your website to achieve the intended results.
Let’s dive deeper.
Understand Customer Behavior
Learning more about your customers’ preferences and interests gives you a clearer path to connect with them in meaningful ways. Website analytics gives you some of these insights via behavioral data. You can learn which channels they’re using to find your website, how long they stay on your website, and the content they view. This gives you opportunities to keep the conversation going with retargeting campaigns based on what people have previously shown interest in.
Identify Opportunities for Improving the Website Experience
Usability plays a significant role in earning return visits from your customers. Bottom line: if you serve up a poor website experience, customers are likely to lose interest, get frustrated, and never come back.
Your website analytics can shed light on where you’re losing customers. For example, if you notice a lot of customers leaving on a specific page or stage of your sales funnel, you can look at those areas more closely to figure out how to improve them.
Fill Knowledge Gaps
Website owners need to learn why users come to their websites and what they expect to find. Website analytics can provide more insight into these motivations, allowing you to create content that meets these expectations.
You can also optimize your underperforming and top-performing content based on KPIs like dwell time, exit rate, and bounce rate. These metrics can give you an idea of whether other people find your content valuable.
Flag Issues on the Website
From broken links to zero conversions, Google Analytics can be configured to alert you about potential website issues. This helps you spot problems early so you can take immediate action. For example, you can check how many 404-page sessions your users experience and how they arrive on those pages. This allows you to take a more systematic approach to website improvements so you can best use your resources.
Measure the Effects of Marketing Campaigns
Google Analytics can help you track your marketing campaigns so you can see what’s driving results. This tells you your efforts are paying off and which channels are doing the best. Use this intel to optimize your ad spend on the channels generating ROI and cut back on the ones that aren’t helping.
You can also configure your analytics to track conversions and assign a dollar value to each. Creating this single source of truth for your digital marketing can help you see at a glance how much your campaigns are contributing to the bottom line.
Why the Switch From UA to GA4?
Google’s Universal Analytics does all of the above. So why switch to GA4 services? Simply put, the Google Analytics 4 migration will do it all better.
UA has been a powerful analytics tool for years. But later this year, UA will no longer collect new website data. This means that if you rely on Google Analytics to learn more about user sessions or track conversions, your numbers won’t budge.
The new GA4 tool will align with new privacy standards, including the cookie-less future. It also takes into account shifts in user behaviors, such as the growing omnichannel experience. Google UA simply isn’t built for these patterns, which leaves opportunities on the table for website owners.
GA4 will be flush with enhanced measurements to help marketers and website owners learn more about their target audiences. This includes cross-platform tracking (i.e., web and mobile) that doesn’t discriminate by devices.
It will also record data based on events rather than sessions. Unlike session-based data, event data tracks actions within your web pages. Examples of events might include:
- Button clicks
- Link clicks
- Form completions
Every action is categorized as an event. This means the KPIs you use to measure engagement and success (e.g., session duration, page views, etc.) will likely change. This is a good thing, as tracking individual actions will give you more context into what users are doing on your website.
Machine learning will also be a feature in GA4, helping website owners detect basic data trends. These predictive metrics will allow you to predict users’ future behaviors, including potential purchases, churn, and conversions.
GA4 Date: When Will GA4 Take Effect?
The official GA4 deadline is July 1, 2023. This is when Google will sunset the current Google Universal Analytics and stop processing new data.
However, Google has advised users to move forward with a GA4 migration as soon as possible. This ensures the new Google Analytics 4 tool will start collecting data and building up your history on the new platform.
Hahn Agency can help you establish a feasible Google Analytics 4 timeline to migrate your data and start using the system quickly.
Google Analytics 4 Costs
Similar to UA, GA4 costs will be free to users. You don’t need to pay to migrate your data or start using the new property. However, it can be beneficial to enlist the help of a consultant who can navigate the GA4 checklist and ensure your data is properly migrated and the new property is set up to collect new data.
Google Analytics 4: Next Steps
When Google closes UA for good, your data won’t automatically follow you. Instead, you need to take action now to upgrade to the newest analytics to avoid losing critical data history.
Hahn Agency can help with a dedicated GA4 guide to help you migrate to the new property with confidence. Book your meeting with our GA4 Experts, and let’s talk about your goals.
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