What is Google Analytics
Google Analytics has been the gold standard for measuring anything related to websites for years. It is a powerful tool that helps small business owners understand their website and online performance. It collects important data about your website visitors, including how many people are visiting, which pages they are looking at, and how long they stay. It also provides insight into where your visitors are coming from, such as which websites or search engines referred them to your site.
Analyzing this data lets you understand your customers' behaviour and preferences. You can see which pages are the most popular, which marketing campaigns drive the most traffic, and even the devices people use to access your site. This information can help you make informed decisions to improve your website, target your marketing efforts, and ultimately grow your business.
Google Analytics provides easy-to-understand reports and visualizations that allow you to track your progress over time. It's like having a virtual assistant that guides you in making data-driven decisions to enhance your online presence and attract more customers.
What is new with Google Analytics?
In a constant quest to improve things, Google introduced a new version of this platform in October 2020 called Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Google realizes that change is hard because this is a major shift in how they look at data; they allowed us to keep using Google Analytics 3 (also called Universal) until now.
But, like all good things, Google Analytics 3 is coming to an end. So, on July 1, 2023, Google will drop support for Universal Analytics and force everyone to upgrade to the new version. We all knew this day would be coming, and EDGE has worked hard to make the switch for many of our client’s websites.
How does it compare to the ‘old’ Google Universal Analytics?
There are some distinct differences between the old and the new Google Analytics:
Data Collection: Google Analytics Universal focused on tracking website data, such as page views and user interactions on your website. GA4, on the other hand, goes beyond websites and can collect data from platforms like mobile apps and even offline interactions, giving you a more comprehensive view of your customer's journey.
Event-based Tracking: GA4 emphasizes event-based tracking, which means it focuses on capturing specific actions or events that users make on your website or app, such as button clicks or form submissions. This gives you a more detailed understanding of user interactions and behaviours.
Reporting and Analysis: In terms of reporting, Google Universal Analytics provides more mature and extensive reporting options that many businesses are familiar with. GA4 offers a more flexible and personalized approach to reporting, allowing you to create custom analyses and visualize data differently.
Machine Learning and Insights: GA4 provides automatic predictions with advanced machine learning capabilities. It can help you understand trends, identify opportunities, and even anticipate customer behaviour based on your data.
Data Controls and Privacy: GA4 emphasizes user privacy and data controls. It provides built-in features to help you comply with data protection regulations and gives users more control over their data preferences.
In summary, Google Universal Analytics focuses on website data and offers extensive reporting. On the other hand, GA4 provides a more comprehensive view across platforms, emphasizes event-based tracking, incorporates machine learning, and prioritizes data privacy.
Why does it matter?
Knowing what is going on with your website is an important piece of marketing information. How many people are visiting your site, where are they from, what are their interests, what stage are they at in the customer journey, and what else are these visitors doing to gather information about your business?
Why you need to upgrade your Google Analytics
Here are three reasons why small businesses should consider upgrading to Google Analytics 4 (GA4):
Future-Proof Your Analytics: Upgrading to GA4 ensures your small business is ready for the future. Google actively encourages users to transition to GA4 as it represents the next generation of their analytics platform. By upgrading early, you can stay ahead of the curve and benefit from ongoing updates, new features, and support from Google.
Comprehensive Customer Insights: GA4 provides a more comprehensive understanding of your customers. It lets you gather data from multiple platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and offline interactions. This holistic view lets you analyze the complete customer journey and gain valuable insights into user behaviour across different touchpoints. By understanding how your customers engage with your business, you can make informed decisions to improve marketing strategies, enhance user experience, and drive better business outcomes.
Advanced Analysis and AI-Powered Insights: GA4 incorporates advanced analysis capabilities and AI-powered insights. It leverages machine learning algorithms to automatically uncover trends, patterns, and correlations within your data. These insights can help you discover hidden opportunities, optimize marketing campaigns, and make data-driven decisions. With GA4, you can also access pre-built reports.
How do I get started?
Follow these steps to get started implementing Google Analytics 4 for your website. Or alternatively, talk to your web developer or marketing agency if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself.
1. Set up a new GA4 Property: Begin by creating a new GA4 Property in your Google Analytics account. You can do this by logging into your Google Analytics account, clicking on the Admin tab, and selecting "Create Property" under the Property column. Follow the prompts and provide the necessary information to set up your GA4 Property.
2. Install GA4 Tracking Code: Once you have created the GA4 Property, you must install the GA4 tracking code on your website. This code is different from the Universal Analytics tracking code. You can find the GA4 tracking code snippet by navigating to the Admin tab, selecting your GA4 Property, and clicking "Data Streams" under the Property column.
3. Set Up Data Stream: In GA4, data is organized into Data Streams. Each Data Stream represents a data source, such as a website or mobile app. Set up a Data Stream for your website by navigating to the Admin tab, selecting your GA4 Property, and clicking "Data Streams" under the Property column. Follow the prompts to add a new Data Stream for your website and configure the necessary settings.
4. Configure Events and Conversions: GA4 relies heavily on event-based tracking. Identify the important events and conversions you want to track on your website, such as button clicks, form submissions, or purchases. Configure these events by going to the Admin tab, selecting your GA4 Property, and clicking "Events" under the Property column. Set up the desired events and map them to your website actions.
5. Explore GA4 Reports and Features: Once your GA4 setup is complete, take some time to explore the GA4 reports and features. GA4 offers a different interface and reporting structure compared to Universal Analytics. Familiarize yourself with the new reports, dashboards, and features available in GA4 to make the most of the migration.
For more detailed instructions and guidance, we put together a handy document that provides more detailed information about GA4 and how to use it to your advantage.
If you are an existing EDGE client and we actively manage your website, there is a good chance that we already made the switch to the new platform for you, as we started this process when the new version was announced three years ago. Not sure where things are at with your website and online reporting? Feel free to contact us.
Posted: June 21, 2023