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What is Google Analytics 4 or GA4?
Announced on 14 October 2020, Google Analytics 4 is the latest web + app analytics platform from Google.
Welcome to the new era of digital marketing.
So, what are the benefits of Google Analytics 4?
Does new always equal better?
Let’s find out!
Google Analytics 4 Benefits
Apart from the sleeker interface, GA4 is certainly a different breed:
1. Customer-centric measurement
This upgrade fulfils every marketer’s dream indeed.
Instead of segmenting data via device or platform, this latest version of Google Analytics is geared towards user behaviour.
This means that we’ll be able to identify how a user first discovered our website all the way to their final purchase or inquiry.
2. Understand your customer’s journey better
Do you understand the actions customers take after clicking into your website?
Do your customers stick around after making a purchase?
Or do they buy once and never return? Ever.
Having a bird’s eye view of your customer’s journey is great. What’s better is the ability to zoom in specifically to each stage of the marketing funnel, assess the insights and optimize your marketing strategy to maximize return on investment (ROI).
One of the first few differences you’ll notice would be the new menu options located on the left side of Google Analytics 4.
Under the lifecycle category, you’ll notice that the tab is broken down based on your customer’s journey indeed. Every aspect of your customer’s journey is broken down.
As of now, these are sorted into the following tabs:
- User acquisition
- Traffic Acquisition
- Pages and screens
- E-commerce purchases
- In-app purchases
- Publisher ads
User activity over time
Analyse bite-sized data based on a potential customer’s stage in the consumer journey. For instance, under engagement, you’ll get interesting insights such as user activity over time.
This allows you to identify the rate of which users drop off after their first visit to your website, within the last 30 days.
This metric under the engagement tab shows us how ‘sticky’ users are. The data is mainly broken down in 3 ways:
- Daily active users/ monthly active users
- Daily active users/ Weekly active users
- Weekly active users/ monthly active users
An essential feature, users stickiness allows us to evaluate the return rate of customers.
From the first encounter (new acquisition) to the final conversion (a purchase or inquiry) and all the way to post-conversion (customer retention), the lifecycle tab truly allows a better understanding of the marketing funnel.
3. Predictive metrics using machine learning
Expect to receive automated alerts based on crucial data trends from your website.
For instance, eCommerce website owners could be alerted to the rising demand for certain products. Coined as purchase probability, this metric allows you to identify a user’s likelihood to perform a transaction in the next 7 days. This is based on the behaviour of your website or app visitors based on their behaviour over the last 28 days.
Another predictive metric would be churn probability. This metric identifies users within the last week who are likely to drop out over the next 7 days.
Predictive metrics allow you to set your audiences apart. By identifying the ROI effective audiences to invest in, you will be able to make effective marketing decisions whatever your KPIs.
4. Sleek design
One of our favourite changes? The sexy new design!
As expected, with every Google Analytics upgrade, the new design surely didn’t leave us unimpressed. Just take a look at the new and improved real-time tab:
5. Integrated reporting
The most obvious Google Analytics 4 benefit, you can now view integrated data from both your website + app visitors and events.
Marketers can now expect more accurate reporting, cross-platform and cross-device tracking since your data now combines both web and app properties.
6. Analytics intelligence
The insights feature allows you to analyse important business data effectively. Instead of spending time filtering your data and switching between multiple tabs, try asking analytics intelligence key questions!
Answers to some of the burning questions every marketer or business owner are easily found in the insights tab.
- How many users did we acquire last week?
- On what days do we get the most users?
- What is the revenue generated from organic search vs paid search?
- Which products generated the most revenue?
- What devices drove the most sales?
This comprehensive list of covers a variety of essential categories including:
- Basic performance
- User acquisition
- Traffic analysis
As the saying goes, “time equals money”, and that is so true! For the time-constrained professional, efficiency is of utmost importance. Leverage on bite-sized yet crucial of information from the insights tab via analytics intelligence to gather insights quickly and efficiently.
7. Enhanced measurement
Another new feature. Enhanced measurement is available once you’ve set up your data stream. An automated method of tracking events, enhanced measurement allows you to measure the interactions on your web and/ or app instantaneously.
What’s more, since its automated, you don’t have to do anything (once you’ve enabled your data stream).
Right now, enhanced measurement automatically tracks and measures the following events:
- Outbound clicks
- Site search
- Video engagement
- File downloads
You have the option to disable these events as well simply by unselecting the interactions you don’t want to track.
With enhanced measurement, you’ll get more granular data, allowing you to better identify how customers interact with your content.
8. Hassle-free user ID tracking
We love the new GA4 because setting it up is fast, efficient and hassle-free.
Under the previous version of GA (Universal Analytics or UA), tracking the User-ID of your website visitors is a painful process. You’ll have to traverse deep down the rabbit hole, and depending on how you insert your UA tracking codes, the time and effort required could be substantial.
What does the User-ID feature do under the old Universal Analytics?
Well, the User-ID feature allows you to associate data across multiple sessions and different devices. This allows you a better understanding of how users interact with your content over a longer time period.
Essentially, only once you’ve enabled User-ID, then you’ll be able to identify the same user across multiple web sessions, devices and engagements. This is because each user is uniquely identified via this feature.
What are the implications of not utilizing User-ID under the old Universal Analytics?
The implications are mindboggling actually. This is because without associating multiple engagements, devices and sessions to the same user, you’ll see the same person browsing your website as separate people.
To illustrate, here’s a simple example:
John visits your website via his smartphone after discovering your brand on social media. He viewed many products and bounced out of your website after a while.
One week later, he goes straight to your website, added the product to cart and made a purchase within 3 minutes.
Without User-ID tracking enabled, you’ll see John as 2 separate people. While in fact, its the same person!
So, how does GA4 track User-ID differently?
Simple, under the default reporting identity, there are 2 options:
- Buy User ID and device
- By device only
Naturally, you should track both the device and User ID.
Don’t forget to turn on Google Signals as well!
What does Google Signals do?
Google Signals can be activated in a few easy steps. Its features include:
- For users who have turned on ads personalisation
- Collect additional information on these users
- Enable cross-device eligible remarketing campaigns
- Populate audiences that you export to YouTube
- Enable cross-device reports
- Enables enhanced audience and demographics reporting
With GA4, you would have been tracking users across different devices, sessions and engagements, and more in just a few easy steps!
The amount of time saved with GA4 vs UA? Priceless indeed!
9. User properties
Another awesome Google Analytics 4 benefit, user properties allows you to tag certain attributes to your target audiences.
This feature allows us to set user properties to identify the attributes of your app users. Whether these attributes are timeless or slow-changing, you can use these attributes to filter your reports.
Here are some example attributes that you can set:
User properties would certainly help you to better filter reports, allowing you to leverage your data as effectively as possible.
With GA4, comparisons have now replaced segments. You now have access to more ways of filtering your data under this new sophisticated version of Google Analytics.
With comparisons, you can choose from the following:
- Audience name
- Signed in with User ID
- Language code
- App version
- Device category
- Device brand
- Device model
- Operating system
- OS with version
- OS version
- Screen resolution
- Stream ID
- First touch date
- First visit date
- User Google Ads ad group ID
- User Google Ads ad group name
- User Google Ads ad network type
- User campaign creative ID
- User medium
- User campaign
- User source
- User source/medium
- Session Acquisition
- Session Google Ads ad group ID
- Session Google Ads ad group name
- Session campaign creative ID
- Session medium
- Session campaign
- Session source
- Session source/medium
- Test data filter name
An extensive list when we compare to the segments available in Universal Analytics. What’s more, you can add up to 5 comparisons, instead of 4 in the older version.
11. App Filters
For mobile apps, instead of segments or comparisons, you’ll get to segment your data via filters instead.
Here are some of the filters you can leverage:
- Platform (e.g. Web, app etc)
- Stream (The data streams under your GA4 property)
- Audience name (e.g. All users, purchases etc)
- User property (e.g. Age, app version, device model, gender new/ established & OS with version)
- Signed in status
A new GA4 feature, DebugView allows you to assess the validity of your Google Analytics set up. This is especially helpful for apps in development mode or when you want to monitor your website events in real-time.
For apps, you’ll need to command lines to enable the Analytics Debug mode.
For browsers, you can activate the Analytics Debug mode via a Google Chrome Extension. All you all have to do is install the Google Analytics Debugger extension and you’re all set to start debugging.
13. Big Query Linking
You can now leverage your data from BigQuery by linking it with their GA4 property. What this means is that you can now access your complete raw data previously unavailable on Universal Analytics.
Previously, this data was only available on Google Analytics 360 users, the enterprise-level version of GA with a sky-high price tag beyond most SMB’s budgets. Another reason to rejoice indeed!
14. Better privacy controls
Another GA4 benefit would be more granular data controls. For instance, GA4 allows you to choose whether or not to leverage data collection for ads personalisation.
Simply go to Admin > Property > Data Collection.
Decide if you’d like to turn on Google Signals and even customize ads personalisation by region!
15. Built for the future
GA4 is designed to adapt to the ever-changing privacy laws and regulations over user data. Regardless of a future with or without browser cookies and/ or identifiers, this new version of Google Analytics is built to be adaptable.
Google also announced that future updates and features will be rolled out via GA4!
So, what are you waiting for?
Have you upgraded to the latest Google Analytics 4 yet?
Do you have to delete your current Universal Analytics?
Well, not yet. Sleek and impressive as it is, GA4 still lacks certain features that we use regularly with Universal Analytics. Until then, you can leverage both the new GA4 and its predecessor simultaneously.
What do you think of the Google Analytics 4 benefits? Are these features something you would look forward to? Or do you think that they will not make a difference?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Need help with tracking your digital campaigns?
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