Google Analytics 4 is now available and it’s packed with several powerful new features designed to enhance the way marketers learn their audience and measure their marketing efforts. If you’re still using Universal Analytics, you’re probably wondering if Google Analytics 4 is worth making the switch to. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best new enhancements made to Google Analytics 4, how it differs from the Universal Analytics platform and how this new analytics platform can help marketers effectively analyze user behavior and keep track of users in their customer journey.
Continue reading to learn why many are already calling Google Analytics 4 the future of Google Analytics.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4, also known as GA4 (previously known as “App + Web”), is the latest generation of Google Analytics. Unlike Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4, this web analytics platform enables marketers to analyze and measure data from both a website and an app.
How is Google Analytics 4 Different?
While Google Analytics (Universal Analytics) was designed to collect, measure, and organize web data, the release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is offering marketers a fresh new perspective that considers all of the recent changes that have been taking place in digital marketing. Universal Analytics has established itself as the standard of tracking, so it is here to stay, but the shiny new enhancements added to Google Analytics 4 were designed to help simplify the process of retrieving valuable analytics that marketers need to navigate with ease in today’s ever changing digital world.
What has changed?
A New Interface
The new and improved interface on Google Analytics 4 offers marketers peace of mind in knowing that all of their most valuable data is now stored and accessible in one place. Another exciting feature you probably noticed is the search bar. Unlike the Universal Analytics dashboard, Google Analytics 4 includes a search bar that enables users to perform an ad-hoc analysis of data, look up reports, and get immediate answers to their questions.
Analysis Hub is Now Available
In the past, the Analysis Hub feature was exclusively available to Google Analytics 360 customers. Now anyone who makes the switch to Google Analytics 4 can enjoy the benefits of delving deeper into their analytics and customer insights.
It’s All About Events
Instead of focusing on hits, pageviews, and sessions, Google Analytics 4 measures events. This makes setting up goals and tracking conversions on GA4 easier than ever before. An event refers to any interaction a user has with your website or app. These event parameters can be identified as anything from page scrolls, site search, outbound links, file downloads, and even video engagement.
In Google Analytics 4, events are separated into four categories:
- Automatically connected events are instantaneously collected by Google Analytics 4 platform.
- Recommended events are events you can manually enforce on your own and they require additional factors to understand their value. As a result, they are not automatically activated.
- Enhanced measurement events are pre-established events exclusively collected from websites that can be switched and off as desired.
- Custom events are unique in a sense, because they are only recommended for use if the events listed above will not suffice.
NOTE: Both automatically connected events and enhanced measurement events are automatically collected and do not require a code to be placed onto your website or app.
Event Tracking Has Its Limitations
One of the downsides to event tracking on Google’s latest web analytics platform is that there are a few limitations. For starters, you can only mark up to 30 events per property as conversions. Also, only 25 event parameters per event can be collected. Last but not least, event parameter names cannot exceed 40 characters.
Click here for a full list of collection and configuration limitations
Robust User Tracking
One of the most convenient additions made to Google Analytics 4 is its ability to track user behavior across devices. As we prepare for an online environment free of third-party cookies, the enhanced machine learning packed into Google Analytics 4 will make it possible for marketers to continue to pinpoint which users are visiting your website on different devices, browsers, and on different occasions, even after third party cookies are completely phased out.
Mobile Tracking Made Easier
Now that Google has taken on a mobile-first mentality, Google Analytics 4’s cross-device tracking is a godsend. In the past, it would require several different versions of Google Analytics to track multiple devices—Google Analytics for Apps, Firebase Analytics and Google Analytics for Firebase. With Google Analytics, you can seamlessly track users across devices and analyze their journey on one simple interface.
Should I Switch to Google Analytics 4?
If you’re completely sold on Google Analytics 4, but haven’t had the opportunity to familiarize yourself with it just yet, making the switch immediately could be rather overwhelming. You might be tempted to push that “Upgrade” button in Universal Analytics, but once you do, there’s no turning back. At first, Google Analytics 4 may look rather intimidating, but once you get the opportunity to familiarize yourself with how it works, it can become second nature.
So before fully upgrading to Google Analytics 4, below is a quick list of things you can do for a smoother transition into the future of Google Analytics:
- Create a new property for GA4 and allow it to run in tandem with Universal Analytics
- Familiarize yourself with Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio
- Slowly start replicating all of the important information you need from Universal Analytics into Google Analytics 4
Google is continuing to move the goalpost, so marketers can thrive–no matter what trends our digital landscape may throw our way.
To put it simply, Universal Analytics was developed to satisfy the demands of the past, while Google Analytics 4 is positioning us to succeed in the future by providing all of the tools needed to analyze and understand the trends that matter most to your bottom line.
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