Website analytics are the primary tool for measuring your website’s performance. They allow you to understand how users engage with your content so that you can better tailor it to their experience.
While alternatives exist, Google Analytics is the undisputed king of analytical platforms. Most website owners depend on it for accurate site measurement and performance metrics. When Google makes changes to Analytics, the ripple effect is felt across millions of websites around the globe.
Google has rocked the digital world once again with the launch of Google Analytics 4 – frequently referred to as GA4.
Why Marketers are Noticing GA4
More than just tweaks to the familiar Analytics platform we’ve been using for years (known as Universal Analytics, or UA), GA4 represents a total overhaul. It’s so significant that Google is encouraging website owners to run GA4 in parallel with the legacy platform. They anticipate it will take time to become familiar with the changes and transition to the new version.
While it was released late in 2020, industry experts believe that GA4 won’t become the standard until 2022. Users will need the time to adapt to this new property.
What’s New With GA4?
Think of this new version of Google Analytics like a new iPhone roll out. Yes, it shares some similarities to its predecessor, but it comes with new bells and whistles and the most up-to-date technology. In this case the biggest benefit is the increase in functional data it will provide us.
Like a new iPhone, GA4 will take some time to learn and acclimate to. Where you once had everything easily at your fingertips, now you have to learn a new platform and tailor it to your needs.
Below are three key changes between UA and GA4 that we think should be at the top of your mind when using the new platform:
The biggest change between the two properties is how they measure activity. Universal Analytics was session-based. Its hit types included:
- User timing
- App/screen view
However, in GA4, all measurement is event-based – every UA hit type above is now measured as an event in GA4.
Each time a new user interacts with your site, they trigger a new event. With GA4, Google automatically starts collecting event data – making it easier to enable tracking. No special coding is required but you can add code to track additional metrics.
Events in GA4 use a different model than UA. In Universal Analytics, events had Category, Action, and Label and was its own hit type. Now, GA4 views every hit as an event and has no notion of Category, Action, and Label.
Events can be split into four categories: automatically collected events, enhanced measurement events, recommended events, and custom events.
Goals are also now based on these events. Google is eliminating the option to use destination goals. All goals must be an event. However, Google has made it easier to set up goals/conversions.
To set your goal/conversion: toggle “mark as conversion” next to the name of the event under the existing events page.
With GA4, there are new criteria to consider a user engaged. To be counted as engaged, users must meet one of the following criteria:
- The user needs to be actively on your site or app for 10 seconds.
- The user needs to have 2+ screen or pageviews.
- The user needs to fire a conversion event.
These new criteria and the new engagement dashboard can help marketers get a better understanding of what areas of the site are performing well, and pinpoint which areas may need some fine-tuning.
Why Should I Care About GA4 & Getting it Set Up?
There’s no way around it – the platform is unavoidable. GA4 is the future.
Your best strategy is to start collecting data and familiarizing yourself with the platform now. GA4 will not retroactively import data from UA so it is imperative for website owners to start collecting data ASAP.
In addition, GA4 allows for more flexibility, custom reporting, and relevant data for your site/app. There are plenty of features to take advantage of, so why not get started?
What Should I Do To Transfer to Google Analytics 4?
Set up a GA4 property and familiarize yourself with it!
We suggest setting up GA4 properties for all of our clients, even if we don’t use them for all of our data yet. We know that GA4 will be the new Google standard and we want everyone to be ready.
Get Help with Setting Up GA4 Property!
Need help diving into GA4? The Gemini team can help you set up your new analytics console and show you how to transfer that data into hard actions that win results. Get in touch with us today to get started with GA4!