Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has been available since 2020, and offers a way for users to track both app and web visits, rather than having these properties split into different views.
Despite being available since 2020, we still see many users unaware of its existence and primarily using Universal Analytics (UA). While it’s argued that UA has a cleaner view and, for the most part, delivers all the information an average user would need in an easy-to-read manner, skipping over GA4 won’t be possible in the coming year.
Google announced in March that they would be removing support for UA and pushing GA4 as the only option come July 2023.
As such, learning more about GA4 and getting it set up now will prevent the loss of essential data once the switchover is made.
The Differences Between GA4 and UA
The shift to GA4 will significantly impact how marketers perceive data and the reporting systems they can implement. As an average user who likes to see what’s going on, many changes can aid in highlighting the important information you want to know.
In brief, here are the core differences you should know about:
App & Web Consolidation
GA4 provides a straightforward solution to segmented data. Web and App analytics would be separated, causing a headache for marketers and analysts as it would create a gap in the customer journey, preventing you from seeing what steps a user would take in one singular view.
GA4 pools this information together to create a unified view that allows interpreters to view a user’s steps through web or ios/android apps.
UA Hit Types Are Now Events in GA4
UA Hit types refer to user identifiers such as page hits, event hits, social interaction hits, etc. GA4, however, compiles these as events, with the principle that any interaction can be added or compiled into an event. So, instead of a hit type like category, label or action, GA4 creates an event for every hit.
That’ll give users greater flexibility when creating an event, but it will also generate more difficulty changing over UA hits into events.
Extended Reporting Capabilities
UA had multiple standard reports that users could use to get a snapshot view of their data. GA4 moves away from these standardised reports to give users more flexibility to create reports that include the data that they need readily available.
Similarly, templates have been made available for those who want a stronger starting position or to alter one or two sections to fit for purpose.
Metrics and Language Changes
One significant loss when changing over to GA4 is bounce rate. Bounce rate was an easy-to-read metric that allowed you to see, at a glance, how well your site was performing at providing relevant content and keeping users engaged.
UA made this easy to view by tracking sessions and page views, but with the switch to events, this becomes more challenging. Similarly, GA4 now introduces something known as Engaged sessions.
Engaged sessions count sessions that lasted longer than 10 seconds or those that made a conversion event, thus either purchased something OR completed an action you have allocated as a conversion.
These alterations further incentive users to create their own templates, reports, events and more, making GA4 feel more hands-on than UA.
Integrating GA4 for Your Business
As always, Google has provided detailed documentation around the GA4 change, including how to integrate it into your property (assuming you’re already using Analytics).
Yet this made do more to confuse you, especially if you aren’t adept with using Googles tools, understand what a Gtag.js is, or how to work with your content management system to allow analytics to function correctly.
Fortunately, Yoke.digital is on hand to aid in GA4 integration, regardless if you have analytics set up already or not.
Drop us a message about GA4, and we offer a service that can help you get set up and prepared in advance for the necessary change. This also gives you time to understand your new reporting and metrics and get to grips with GA4’s user interface.