Google Analytics 4 Check-In: You’ve Made the Transition, Now What?
With the July 1 deadline now in the rearview mirror, Google has officially sunset Universal Analytics and appointed Google Analytics 4 as its sole platform for web performance metrics and reporting.
The official transition may be over, but businesses and marketers are still busy trying to acclimate themselves to a new way of handling web analytics. From data collection differences to advanced reporting tools, users should brace for a learning curve when making their first attempts to use the GA4 platform.
There’s a difference between adoption and optimization. Now that you’ve handled the adoption phase of switching to Google Analytics 4, it’s time to focus on taking full advantage of this upgraded platform and its new, data-driven capabilities. Read on for our tips to bring yourself up to speed with GA4.
Don’t Panic When GA4 Data Doesn’t Align With Universal Analytics
If you’re comparing UA and GA4 numbers side by side—or if you made the switch and noticed measurable changes in your analytics data—there’s no reason to worry. Your data isn’t lost or compromised. Instead, you’re seeing evidence of GA4’s new changes in action.
As part of the platform upgrade, GA4 is introducing certain changes to how data and events are collected and organized. Sessions, for example, have been renamed as events—but that name change also comes with slight tweaks to how those events are counted. While UA recounted existing sessions as new sessions if they extended past midnight—essentially counting one session as two separate instances—events now tracks this visit as a single instance.
This may result in lower numbers for certain metrics, but the numbers will be more accurate—and in most cases, the difference in these calculations should be minor. Still, declining numbers can be a sign of concern if you aren’t aware of the reasons why this is occurring. Take it as a sign of improving data quality, courtesy of GA4.
You’ve done the work of upgrading to GA4, so why not explore the fancy new tools that come with it?
While upgrades abound across the GA4 platform, certain features will make a bigger splash with businesses than others. Its free predictive analytics tools are likely at the top of the list: while UA offered some intelligent analytics tools powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, GA4’s capabilities are far more robust.
Businesses can also track up to 300 different events per web property, resulting in far broader options for automatic tracking of parameters. Other new features, ranging from audience segmentation capabilities to expanded conversion tracking, give your business the tools you need to enhance the quality and specificity of your performance data. It’s worth browsing the GA4 platform and playing around with these new tools.
With new data points, methodologies and measurement tools, Google Analytics 4 is offering new tools and metrics through which we can consider and evaluate digital marketing performance. One of the most notable changes from Universal Analytics is the breakout data point “engaged sessions,” which represent users sessions where significant page view time or other actions occurred.
Compared to the broader “sessions” measurement, engaged sessions can help you understand and evaluate the meaningful traffic coming to your website. Businesses can use this metric to understand which channels, messaging and other elements are more effective at driving engaged sessions, which offer more value and ROI potential.
With four distinct methods for extracting and analyzing data—including Standard Reports, Explorations, Data API and BigQuery Expert—your business can take advantage of new, innovative tools to understand marketing performance from a wide range of perspectives.
Google Analytics 4 may not require a massive adjustment on the part of its business users, but for resource-strapped local businesses, this transition can be difficult to take on when balancing other day-to-day needs. With limited time and resources to acclimate to GA4 and incorporate new best practices, businesses risk missing out in new opportunities to increase marketing performance and value.
The simplest solution? Partnering with a small business marketing consultant to manage this transition and bring your analytics strategy up to speed. From migrating historical data to harnessing new analytics capabilities, a digital partner can accelerate the transition process and deliver better results while also reducing the demands placed on your organization.
During transition periods such as these, businesses have an opportunity to get a head start on their competition—or they can sit idly by and let competing brands get the inside lane. Cox Media’s experts are ready to make your transition to GA4 easier, and more productive, than you ever thought it could be. Contact us today to find out how.
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