Google continues to advance and evolve its suite of tools to help users and businesses make helpful connections. This includes updating Universal Analytics to the newest, fourth version of Google Analytics known as GA4. Though it isn’t just a slightly updated iteration with a few extra bells and whistles.
GA4 has some major upgrades including machine learning tools that provide critical insights on how to provide helpful content to your users. It was originally announced in July 2019, and Google plans to have Universal Analytics completely phased out by July 1, 2023. So, the wise move is to make the switch before UA leaves you out in the cold.
Why Is GA4 Better than Universal Analytics?
Google Analytics 4 is the direct successor to Universal Analytics and provides a suite of features that are more privacy-focused in how it tracks users on apps and websites and apps. Not only is it more efficient, but it also improves compliance with the GDPR guidelines for protecting users’ personal data.
GA4 has better and smarter metrics through machine learning. To continue gaining insights from users even if they don’t accept cookies.
Though GA4 is more than just an innovative upgrade, it is truly a completely new tool designed to gather and interpret metrics that uses machine learning to help you better learn how to work with it. It stands as the new standard in tracking website visitors and helping you pivot to better meet their ever-changing needs.
The Upgraded Features of GA4
GA 4 has a bevy of new or dramatically upgraded features focused on things like improving privacy compliance and user analytics.
Updated Privacy Compliance Features
The tools in GA4 help you track a user’s journey across multiple devices. This includes the ability to track a user’s session as they move from their laptops or desktop computer to their mobile devices and tablets. This helps you better understand the devices your new and loyal customers are using to interact with your site and optimize the functionality.
Any time a user doesn’t accept cookies or they are blocked by the browser it creates a data gap data. Yet GA4’s machine learning can bridge those gaps and can continue to provide insights about individual users, all while keeping their data anonymously safe!
GA4 can bridge data gaps by implementing an event-driven data model which links sessions to user data. Yet it doesn’t collect data to stay compliant with GDPR guidelines.
Instead GA4 measures via events such as user interactions within a website. This includes:
- Time spent on a page
- Scroll depth
- Page views
- Outbound clicks
- Video engagement
Within each of these events, GA4 gathers additional information via set parameters, which makes the data a lot more accurate.
GA4 uses a default number of events that you can enable based on things like scroll depth, page views, video engagement, downloads, and outgoing clicks, downloads. You can even create custom events for it to track that is specifically unique to your website. You can even mark these events as conversions if a sale occurs.
Intuitive Interface & Customized Reports
GA4’s user interface was designed to be intuitive to use with innovative dashboard features and easy access to analytic data. It also adds new report features that are a major upgrade from what Universal Analytics offered
These new reports provide better insight into a user’s journeys. It also does away with bounce rate metrics and instead replaces them with engagement rate information. This helps you to see what content users are engaging in and why. You can then apply those insights to optimize your content. The threshold is calculated by the number of sessions that last longer than 10 seconds or events that have at least 2 page views.
Enhanced GDPR Compliance
GA4 has a strong focus on ensuring user privacy and fully complies with the latest GDPR guidelines, for protecting a user’s personal data. This means that IP addresses are no longer stored, and all users are fully anonymized. They can also request to have their data deleted.
It’s also worth noting that GA4 doesn’t rely on cookies. This helps with modeling as an increasing number of third-party cookies are being blocked by browsers. This makes it increasingly difficult to track visitors to your website.
GA4 gathers new statistics about user engagements that you apply to your existing analytics. This includes engagement sessions, duration of engagement, engagement rate, and engagements per session user.
How To Set Up GA4
Setting up GA4 is relatively easy to do. Though it helps to break it down into steps.
Step One Create a GA4-property & Add a Data Stream
You can use the Editor mode in your current Google Analytics account to set up your GA4 property. If you already have an account, then you have this role automatically.
Simply go to the Admin page, find the “Property” column, and then click “Create Property.” Then follow the steps it gives you. Once all the pertinent information has been input you then select to add a data stream.
Choose your preferred iOS app, Android app, or web portal, and turn on “Enhanced Measurement.” This will measure all the standard engagement events such as scroll depth, page views, video engagement, outbound clicks, downloads, and site search usage.
Step Two Add GA4 Code to Your Existing Website
The new GA4 code must be implemented on your website to collect data. This is as simple as applying a Google tag to your existing code. You can do this via:
The updated GDPR guidelines require compliance for protecting a user’s anonymity and personal data. GA4 does this in spades, yet also implements cutting-edge machine learning to help track user engagement and collect important data for analytics. All while eliminating data gaps.
The roll-out is already underway and GA4 will fully replace Universal Analytics by July 1st, 2023. Making the change now will keep you ahead of the learning curve, while also giving you key user engagement data to optimize your new and existing website content.