Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the newest version of Google’s web analytics tool.
It is a significant update from the previous Universal Analytics (Google Analytics 3) and comes with many advanced features that are built to help digital marketers and website owners to get a more in-depth understanding of user behaviour on their website or app.
As digital marketing experts, Boyd Digital knows the importance of gathering analytical data to make data-driven decisions and assess current performance.
In this blog, we’ll explore how GA4 aims to change the future of analytics and how you can best utilise it to improve your data insights.
Let’s get started!
Universal Analytics v GA4
As of July 1st 2023, Google will be sunsetting Universal Analytics in favour of GA4, meaning that data will no longer be tracked in existing properties. GA4 properties need to be set up in order to continue to record and analyse valuable data.
GA4 provides a complete view of user activity across multiple devices and platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and offline interactions.
Google cites that some of the new and improved perks of GA4 include:
- It can collect website and app data to understand the customer journey better.
- It utilises event-based data instead of session-based data.
- It includes privacy controls such as cookieless measurement and behavioural and conversion modelling.
- It offers predictive capabilities that give guidance without complex models.
- It allows for direct integrations to media platforms that help drive actions on your website or app.
GA4 also includes new features that make it easier to analyse user behaviour, such as machine learning-powered insights, cross-platform tracking, and a more flexible event measurement system.
These features will help digital marketers to gain better insights into their audiences, improve their marketing strategies, and optimise their user experiences.
How GA4 Helps Digital Marketers
GA4 comprises new features that help it stand out from other analytic properties and make it a dynamic tool for marketers. Some of the key features to be aware of include:
- Machine Learning-Powered Insights: GA4 uses machine learning algorithms to help provide real-time insights into user behaviours. These insights include things such as revenue forecasting and predicting churn rate and customer lifetime value.
- Cross-Platform Tracking: GA4 helps marketing professionals to understand how users interact with their brand across different touchpoints. It tracks user behaviour over different platforms (such as mobile apps, websites and offline interactions) to comprehensively examine cross-platform interactions.
- Event Measurement & Planning: Compared to the UA system, GA4 provides a more flexible event measurement system that helps you to track user interaction and custom events. It allows you higher levels of control over the data Google collects and allows you to measure the actions that matter most to your company.
- User-Centric Analysis: GA4 is designed to be privacy-centric and provides more user-centric data. It includes user ID tracking features, allowing marketers to track user behaviour across multiple devices without compromising user privacy.
Compared to UA, the GA4 data model is concentrated on increasing the effectiveness of data analytics and minimising irrelevant information.
All of these features help to make GA4 an advanced analytical platform capable of helping you to understand the user journey better and improve your marketing strategies with advanced data collection abilities.
GA4 Events Explained
In GA4, there is an increased focus on events.
Events allow you to measure a specific interaction or occurrence on your website or app. For example, they can measure when someone loads a page, completes a purchase, clicks a link or measures a specific type of system behaviour.
Google explains that there are four main categories of events to be aware of with the new GA4 update:
- Automatically collected events – these events are collected by default if you have GA4 installed on your website or app.
- Enhanced measurement events – these events are collected when enhanced measurement is enabled for a web data stream. No code-level changes are needed for GA4 to collect data on these events.
- Recommended events – recommended events have predefined names and parameters and are only collected when you implement them. Recommended events will be shown in your standard reports – making them an insightful tool.
- Custom events – these events need to be defined by you. They won’t appear in most standard reports, but can allow for more details reporting for those who have specific requirements.
Learning to lean into event management will help any digital marketer make the most of GA4s new features. These useful event tools help you to understand user behaviour, measure specific goals and make data-driven decisions to optimise the user journey.
GA4, GDPR & New Privacy Efforts
One of the key reasons behind GA4’s development was to better protect customer privacy due to the recent implementation of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) laws and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), which affect how Google can store and share data.
Though GA4 takes significant steps toward being a cookieless and privacy-friendly web model, it is not entirely without cookies. With GA4, Google has eliminated the third-party cookies found in the previous model (Universal Analytics) but maintains first-party cookies known as Client ID.
Under GDPR, the Client ID is still personal data because it allows individual users to be singled out and identified. Therefore, whilst it’s important to note that compared to Universal Analytics, Google has taken significant steps in the right direction regarding GDPR, it is not a completely anonymous service.
Why Digital Marketers Should Use GA4
With advanced features, machine learning-powered insights, cross-platform tracking, and a more privacy-centric design, GA4 provides marketers with a comprehensive view of user behaviour and data.
H3: Case Study
Here’s a specific breakdown of how a marketer could use GA4.
Let’s say you run an e-commerce website that sells a specific product. When you use GA4, you can track a user’s behaviour across multiple devices, including when they first visited your website on their mobile phone and later made a purchase on their desktop computer.
You could also use GA4’s enhanced privacy settings to protect user data whilst machine learning-based data works to gain valuable insights into user behaviour.
Additionally, real-time reporting would allow you to see how your marketing campaigns are performing in real-time, so you could make adjustments as needed to improve performance.
By adopting GA4, digital marketers can stay ahead of the curve and gain a competitive advantage in their respective markets.
Need Help With Your Online Marketing?
Where Universal Analytics was more straight forward to implement and set up, GA4 requires some extra manual set up and steps to ensure that you are making the most of its reporting features. Boyd Digital’s expert team can help you take advantage of all of the excellent features GA4 offers.
As an SEO-focused digital marketing agency, we are well-equipped to help with everything from PPC and social media marketing campaigns to in-depth research and analysis, technical SEO, optimised content creation, data analytics & more.Contact us today to arrange a free consultation and discuss how we can help your online business thrive with a tailored digital marketing strategy.