Google launched the most recent update to its measurement platform for web analytics, named Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in the fall of 2020. Does your digital marketing strategy rely on Google Analytics? Are you wondering if you should switch to the new platform? We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you make your decision and understand what is new and/or changing.
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Will our Google Universal Analytics account automatically update to Google Analytics 4?
No. Currently, these are entirely different platforms that need to be configured and implemented separately.
Should our company implement Google Analytics 4 (GA4) now or wait?
The earlier the better. The earlier you have your Google Analytics 4 property set up and installed the more data you will start to collect and be able to compare once it has been in place long enough. GA4 will rely heavily on machine learning so for it to identify trends and fill in gaps in your analytics GA4 will need to observe your data over time.
Will we lose our data from our Google Universal Analytics (UA) account that has been tracking for years?
No. Right now while Google Analytics 4 is just getting off the ground you will still use your Google Universal Analytics property in tandem to collect your website analytics. No timeline has been established as to when UA data may become unavailable. Beware of clickbait using tactics such as warning you that you will lose your data if you don’t start using Google Analytics 4 now.
When will we need to stop using Google Universal Analytics?
This has not been determined yet. It is assumed that the GA4 property will evolve and become a solution that completely replaces UA; however, Google is still developing GA4 and still releasing new features almost weekly.
What is different about Google Analytics 4?
There are a lot of differences and some new ones may be introduced later. Features that have been introduced may also change as GA4 continues to evolve, but these are the top 5 differences we feel are important to share.
1. Event-based vs. Session-based
Google Universal Analytics is user-focused and tells you how many, where from and what pages are viewed, but not the actions users take. Google Analytics 4 automatically tags these actions which are known as events and focuses on the user journey. You’ll be tracking more than just pageviews (without additional coding to do so); events will now track outbound link clicks, scrolling, video interactions, and more.
2. Device and Platform inclusion Google Analytics 4 is centered on the customer journey which focuses on following the audience across devices and platforms. Take a client that starts their research on their mobile device and goes to their desktop to make a purchase, GA4 now helps you connect the dots to follow the full customer journey. You can also include data from both your website and mobile apps in the same property (which is why Google originally released this new platform as Web+App before calling it Google Analytics 4).
3. Life Cycle As we mentioned, Google Analytics 4 is focused on the customer journey, In doing so, the reporting helps you monitor the life cycle funnel of your users from awareness to consideration, purchases to loyalty, as well as the ability to measure lifetime value, all through the new event-driven data model.
4. Explorations One of the main new features for Google Analytics 4 is the introduction of Explorations in which GA4 focuses on new reports/tools to perform analysis to help supplement your business and marketing decisions. You can create your own custom explorations, but GA4 also provides access to:
- Funnel Analysis
- Path Analysis
- Segment Overlap
- Cohort Analysis
Some of these features were available when upgrading and paying for access to GA360 in the past, but they are now free features in Google Analytics 4.
5. Machine Learning / Predictive Metrics Google Analytics 4 uses machine learning to help provide new predictive metrics such as purchase probability, churn probability, and revenue prediction. Creating predictive audiences can help you create targeted and better-performing campaigns.
Inclind isn't just a Drupal Agency, whether you are our client for website development, website optimization, Drupal support services, or anything else, we are here to research and learn these analytics tools for you. We suggest getting your Google Analytics 4 property set up and in place for data collection, but it is still too early to use it for any real analysis. Once it’s ready you’ll be ahead of the curve!