Here’s what you need to know about the new platform and how to prepare
Google announced last year that starting July 1, 2023, it will discontinue processing data using the standard Universal Analytics properties familiar to most marketers and data analysts. Instead, data will now flow through the powerful new Google Analytics 4 (GA4). GA4 will usher in a dramatic shift in analytics properties and will mark a significant change in data gathering, storing, and filtering. How will the change impact your business and what can you do now to best prepare for the GA4 revolution? Rhino Group is here to answer those questions and assist you in the transition.
WHAT IS GOOGLE ANALYTICS 4 AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM UNIVERSAL ANALYTICS?
Businesses large and small rely on Google Analytics to better understand their customers’ preferences and behaviors, and use that data to create better experiences for them. For years, Google’s Universal Analytics tracked user sessions to count user interactions with a website that took place within a given time frame. Because sessions were counted individually between devices and usually set to 30 minute limits, sessions often overstated real user counts. GA4 will use machine learning, improvements in user identification, and cross-platform operation to gather information based on events rather than sessions. Events can be anything from page views to clicks, form submissions, and even custom events defined by your own team. An event-based approach will provide a more accurate picture of your user journeys and provide insights of user actions at every step of their journey across your website, social media platforms, and apps.
Key new features of GA4 include:
Machine learning, allowing it to provide reliable standard reports and use predictive audiences to better represent your true user base
Data collection from websites and apps using signed-in data, leading to a better understanding of customer experience across different channels
Customer privacy prioritization and the ability to work with or without cookies
Event-based rather than session-based data collection
Enhanced measurements of user actions (such as downloads, video views, scrolling, site search, outbound clicks and page view) minus the need for website tag updates
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GA4 TO MY BUSINESS?
If you are looking to gain greater insight into how users interact with your digital presence across different devices and then use that information to create more meaningful reports and effective ad campaigns, then GA4 is the analytics tool for you! Here are six ways adding GA4 to your Google property will have a positive impact on your business.
Improved customer journey tracking
You can now use a single set of metrics and dimensions to look at web, app and social media data, allowing more intelligent aggregation. Google Analytics 4 gives you the tools needed to track and stitch together user journeys more accurately across devices.
Augmented user engagement analysis
New “Lifecycle” and “User” reports provide more intuitive, user-centric reports aligning menu sections with the customer journey.
More powerful audiences for your ad campaigns
More powerful analyst tools and integrations mean more powerful audiences for your marketing campaigns and ultimately a better ROI on your Google Ads spend.
More intelligent user privacy and tracking features
With more precise control over what user personal data is collected, GA4 will help your business comply with current and future privacy regulations.
Simplified Goals and Events set-up
GA4 pre-creates a number of actions and events that previously required manual set-up. Goal tracking requires little to no code editing, saving implementation time.
Enhanced visualizations and reporting
GA4’s “Analysis Hub” features a template gallery with charts that can be extensively customized with visualizations for exploration, funnel analysis, segment overlaps, path analysis and more.
HOW AND WHEN SHOULD I PREPARE FOR THE TRANSITION TO GA4, AND HOW CAN RHINO GROUP HELP ME?
The sooner you migrate your Google property to GA4, the better! On July 1, 2023 all standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits. If you have a UA property, you must migrate. The earlier you migrate, the more historical data and insights you will have in Google Analytics 4. By starting your GA4 use now, you will get a complete view of consumer behavior across web and app.
If you’re an experienced Google Analytics user, following the GA3 Set-Up Assistant in your admin section is the place to start. Migrating to GA4 can be a straightforward process, especially if your company is already using Google Tag Manager. But even if you’re not using a tag management solution like GTM, the Rhino Group can make sure your property is collecting all the data it will need to be successful in the GA4 environment.
The transition phase to GA4 is an excellent opportunity to audit your existing Analytics tracking. We can assist you in evaluating the entire landscape of your analytics program and in making sure your new GA4 set-up is as effective or even better than your existing UA data collection.
For many of our clients, Ecommerce tracking is a top priority. Ecommerce tracking in GA4 is similar to Event tracking, but there are specific parameters that Google Analytics uses by default that means data will be pushed to an Ecommerce report. We will work with you to implement Ecommerce tracking code measurement if tagging on site, or update dataLayer schema if tagging via GTM.
The Rhino Group favors a three-step approach to GA4 migration. Step 1 is auditing your existing UA and GTM properties to determine what data is essential to continue tracking in GA4. Step 2 is establishing a migration strategy that ensures the ideal set-up for your businesses’ needs, making sure all relevant Events, Conversions, Audiences, Custom Dimensions and Custom Metrics are captured. Step 3 is deployment, with our team setting up the new GTM containers and GA4 properties, testing and debugging, archiving UA data, and determining a date for migrating to GA4 as your single source of analytic data moving forward.
Like any new tool, Google Analytics 4 can be intimidating when you first try it out, but eventually you will get the hang of it with continued usage. Because Google allows you to test GA4 while still maintaining your existing UA account, migrating to GA4 immediately is in your best interest. Using Google’s Setup Assistant is the easiest way to upgrade to Google Analytics 4, as this step-by-step guide walks you through the process.
If, however, you find that your GA4 set-up requires advanced customization beyond your in-house capabilities; or if you lack the time, resources or expertise to implement GA4 before Google’s July 1, 2023 cessation of UA; then the Rhino Group is here to help! We can provide you with the peace of mind that your GA4 migration goes seamlessly and best adapts to your data analytics and marketing needs. We’d be happy to discuss your unique needs and work with you to get your GA4 property set up correctly from the get go, ready to meet your analytics requirements for years to come. Give us a call at 847-515-8000 or email [email protected] to begin planning your GA4 migration today!