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In just under 12 months, Google will sunset Universal Analytics and complete the shift to its new property, Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

Described as the next generation of Analytics, it represents a giant leap forward for data-driven marketers, with machine learning baked in to make sense of data insights and compensate for privacy-related restrictions and gaps.

Google Analytics 4 also:

Collects both website and app data.

Features a breadth of privacy controls, including cookieless measurement.

Works with events-based data rather than session-based.

Offers direct integrations.

It is predictive to allow for guidance without the use of complex models.

Although making the switch to GA4 can be complex, doing so unlocks eight critical benefits for marketers:

  1. Gain a clearer insight into the user journey 

It’s no secret that modern consumer journeys are anything but linear. A brand, product or destination discovery on social media may lead to Google, a site visit, app download, and be punctuated by research on price comparison or review platforms before finally culminating in a final site visit or in-app purchase.

To further complicate matters, this journey may occur across two or more devices and be fragmented over days.

GA4 is designed to handle these modern, complex behaviour patterns and bring clarity to the user journey. For example, rather than reporting on sessions, as previous versions of Analytics have done, it focuses instead on events. 

An event is a distinct user interaction on a website or app. Examples of events include:

Logging in.

Completing a purchase.

Sharing a piece of content.

Submitting a website form.

Viewing the contents of their shopping cart or seeing a promotion.

Events make it possible to follow the user across multiple devices and actions to build a more complete, more precise understanding of their journey.

  • Tighter privacy controls 

One of the most pertinent features of GA4 for marketers is tighter privacy controls. Marketers and users have more freedom to dictate what information should and shouldn’t be collected from site visitors and app users, making it possible to remain compliant when privacy regulations change. GA4 is more agile in this area and designed with a cookieless future in mind than previous iterations. Significantly for brands, GA4 used machine learning to help fill in any gaps created by privacy settings, such as excluding specific traits from ad personalisation.

  • More advanced modelling techniques 

Advanced modelling techniques make it easier for users to understand what their GA4 data is saying and take appropriate action. Known as Analytics Intelligence, this set of features helps marketers find information more efficiently and will automatically analyse data and provide insights about data anomalies such as changes over time. GA4’s machine learning capability can also be used to make future predictions about likely user actions.

  • Reports focused on user engagement metrics 

Google Analytics 4’s pre-built reports are heavily focused on user behaviour and engagement data, giving marketers valuable insights about their customers and their behaviour.

Default reports are split into the Life cycle collection and User collection.

Life cycle data tracks user activity from the moment of acquisition through to conversion. It includes data around the acquisition method, user engagement activity, and monetisation, which covers revenue generation such as in-app purchases and subscriptions and retention, charting how frequently new users become repeat users.

The User collection brings together data offering more profound insight into website and app users, including demographic information and their tech choice.

  • Better report visualisations 

Google Analytics has always been able to amass a considerable amount of data. The problem for marketers has often been how to aggregate and make sense of that data and then present it in a way that’s easier to understand.

GA4 solves this challenge with vastly improved report visualisation options. It has an extensive template gallery for chart creation, including funnel and path analysis. Visualisation makes it easier to understand, interpret and act on complex data sets, making the data more accessible and valuable.

  • Build better custom audiences

As we have seen, Analytics 4 is heavily focused on user behaviour and engagement, backed up with A1 to understand how previous actions are likely to include future behaviour. This combination means marketers are empowered to build more sophisticated custom audiences to elevate ad campaign performance.

It’s important to note that Google’s ability to plug privacy gaps and closely track the user journey will also aid in the creation of more lucrative audiences by giving marketers and ad managers clearer, more accurate data to inform decision making.

  • Simplified goal creation 

If you’ve previously used Universal Analytics, you may have found goal setting to be a complex, frustrating undertaking. Google Analytics 4 has moved away from that complexity with a more streamlined solution.

Right out of the box, it has a series of default events set up for data capture. These include a user logging into a site, making an initial visit or clicking on a link. editing or adding new events is much more straightforward with no advanced coding knowledge required.

  • A more comprehensive choice of parameters

Parameters give additional context to user interactions on your site or within your app. Each event has default and optional parameters that can be tagged to provide further detail. For example, in addition to knowing when an event such as a product view takes place, you can add optional parameters to record the product’s price or category.

Parameters provide rich detail and context that can be useful when analysing user interactions and campaign planning.

Universal Analytics will cease working after 01 July 2023, meaning you’ll need to swap to Google Analytics 4 before that date to continue collecting data. Adrac can help you to make the switch, with Google Analytics 4 set up and goal setting for just £29.99 + VAT per month. Contact us to find out more.

Author Rebecca

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