Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be here sooner than you think and if you haven’t already, it’s important that you start to prepare for the transition now.
Hear from Lee Noble, Head of Digital at BDB, as he addresses some of the most commonly asked questions we hear from our clients and outlines his top tips to prepare for the upcoming shift to Google Analytics 4.
What is Google Analytics 4?
GA4 is a complete redesign of the existing Google Analytics platform developed to be more intuitive and user-friendly whilst also including new features and capabilities that were not available in previous versions. With improved data collection and processing, a new data model with better support for cross-device measurement, an improved user interface, better analysis and reporting tools and enhanced support for BigQuery integration, GA4 looks set to transform the future of analytics.
What are the benefits of GA4?
For B2B marketers, the move to GA4 brings a whole host of benefits. Not only will you be able to track conversions more accurately, you will also have the ability to better understand customer behaviour, gaining greater insights into what marketing campaigns are performing most effectively. Thanks to the granular data that GA4 provides, you can easily segment your customers to better understand what marketing activity is driving the biggest impact and with who.
Why getting ahead is crucial
In an ideal world, you would have transitioned to Google Analytics 4 in July of 2022 to ensure that once the switch comes around in July 2023, you have a year’s worth of data to make year-on-year comparisons. As we know, hindsight is a wonderful thing! So if you haven’t already made the switch, transitioning now (like right now) will ensure that you have at least six months’ worth of comparative data in Google Analytics 4. Don’t panic, you won’t lose your Universal Analytics data as a result of the incoming switch next summer, but you won’t be able to continue tracking with the old system.
With any new system update comes a lot of new information to take on board. Marketers need to take the time to learn about the new features and how to use them effectively. GA4 is designed to be more flexible and customisable than previous versions meaning that you need to take the time to plan how you want to use GA4 to meet your specific needs and marketing objectives.
The biggest change will be the switch to a data-driven model. Marketers need to ensure that their data is collected safely and correctly, or you may face potential data loss or decreased data accuracy. Similarly to Google Data Studio, you will need to invest time into customising and optimising GA4 to successfully set everything up to ensure you have the most relevant information that you need at your fingertips. Something to remember is that some of the metrics that you will be used to seeing in Universal Analytics won’t be available in GA4 after the switch. For example, metrics such as Bounce Rate and Average Session Duration will be rolled into a new ‘Engagement’ metric. Therefore, switching early will ensure that you have the time to work out how this will impact your existing reporting requirements and what the new metrics mean to you.
How do I prepare for GA4?
GA4 is a complete overhaul of the Google Analytics platform. The new interface may take some getting used to, but it is designed to be more user-friendly and offers a plethora of new features and capabilities to explore. Given that GA4 is still in beta mode, there may be further changes before it is officially released.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to preparing to make the switch as it will be very dependent on your specific needs and requirements. However, some general tips that may be helpful for those looking to switch to GA4 include:
- Familiarise yourself with the new features and capabilities of GA4
- Determine how GA4 can best meet your specific needs and objectives
- Audit your existing reporting setup and decide if it’s showing you all the information that you need
- Create a plan for migrating your data from your current Google Analytics account to your new GA4 account
- Implement your plan and starting to use GA4 to track and analyse your website traffic data
- Consider how GA4 can complement your other marketing data sources
Data, data everywhere
GA4 requires a lot of data to be effective, so it’s worth having a robust data collection plan in place to ensure you are making the most of the platform and doing so in the appropriate ways. From a GDPR perspective, the main considerations for GA4 are data minimisation, data accuracy, data security and data subject rights. GA4 collects data in a more anonymous and privacy-centric way compared to previous versions of Google Analytics, which should help to address some past concerns surrounding data collection. This collected data needs to be accurate and secure, ensuring that data subjects have the right to access, delete or correct their data should they need to.
GA4 also requires a different approach to data interpretation, so be prepared to change the way you analyse data. Tracking codes will need to be updated, attribution models will be different to previous versions of Google Analytics so conversion tracking may be affected, and the reporting capabilities of the platform have also changed, so you will need to adjust your reporting goals as a result.
Ultimately, the best way to learn GA4 is to dive in and start using it, so don’t be afraid! The new platform provides a more powerful insight into your data offering and a more unified approach to data collection, making it easier to connect your online and offline data for a complete view of the customer journey.
Implementing GA4 might feel like an administrative task that can be put off but it’s important to address it sooner rather than later. If you require any support or guidance with the implementation of GA4, get in touch today and we will be more than happy to help.