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The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics 4 Implementation and Usage

In digital marketing, it's crucial to track and analyse data, in order to optimise campaigns and improve ROI. For several years, Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) has been the go-to tool for web analytics. However, Google has now released its latest version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), which aims to provide a more comprehensive view of user behaviour across multiple devices and platforms.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about GA4, including how to create a GA4 property, how it works, how to migrate from UA to GA4, and whether it’s worth making the switch. 

What is Google Analytics 4?

GA4 is the latest version of Google Analytics designed to track user behaviour across websites, mobile apps, and other digital platforms. It uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to help digital marketers gain insights into user behaviour and engagement.

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How does GA4 work?

GA4 uses a different data model than UA, meaning that some of the metrics and dimensions which you may have been familiar with in UA, will not be available in GA4.

Instead, GA4 focuses on “events” and “parameters”, which provide more flexibility and customisation options for tracking user behaviour. Events are actions that users take on your website or app, such as clicking a button, submitting a form, or watching a video. Parameters are additional pieces of information that provide context for events, for example, if an event is a button click, a parameter could be the name of the button that was clicked.

One of the most notable features of GA4 is the ability to track user behaviour across devices and platforms. For example, if a user clicks on an ad on their mobile phone and then completes a purchase on their desktop computer, GA4 can track this user journey and provide insights into how different touchpoints impact the conversion funnel.

What does GA4 look like?

GA4 has a redesigned user interface that is more intuitive and user-friendly than UA. The dashboard provides an overview of key metrics and allows you to create custom reports and dashboards, based on your specific needs. GA4 also includes several new features, such as a user explorer tool and a funnel analysis tool.

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Should I switch to GA4?

If you're using UA and satisfied with the data and insights you're getting, you don't necessarily need to switch to GA4 immediately.

However, On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data, so Google is strongly encouraging everyone to make the switch to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible.

Our advice would be to make the switch now and at least start tracking data otherwise you won’t have anything to compare your new data with.

Is GA4 better than Universal Analytics?

It’s relatively hard to answer this at this point because, whilst GA4 provides more advanced features, such as machine learning and real-time data analysis, it also has a steeper learning curve and may require more time and resources to set up and configure. At the end of the day, Google is imposing the switch, so we have to assume is for good reason.

What is the difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics?

The main difference between GA4 and UA is the data model they use. UA is based on sessions and pageviews, while GA4 is based on events and parameters.

This change enables GA4 to seamlessly track user behaviour across different devices and platforms.

Think of it as a more unrestricted ‘sandbox’ environment.

In addition to these features, GA4 also includes enhanced data privacy features, such as the ability to control data retention and delete user data. This is an important consideration for businesses that want to comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA.

Overall, GA4 provides a more holistic view of user behaviour across multiple devices and platforms, with more advanced features and customisation options, that can help businesses optimise their marketing campaigns and improve ROI. While the transition from UA to GA4 may require some effort, the benefits of GA4 make it well worth considering for businesses of all sizes.

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What's new in GA4?

Some of the new features in GA4 include:

  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide more advanced insights into user behaviour
  • Cross-domain tracking to track user behaviour across different websites and domains
  • Integration with Google Ads to provide more detailed attribution data for ad campaigns
  • E-commerce tracking to track transactions and revenue on your website or app
  • Funnel analysis to visualise the conversion funnel and identify areas for improvement
  • User explorer tool to provide a detailed view of individual user behaviour and engagement
  • Enhanced data privacy features, such as the ability to control data retention and delete user data
  • Real-time data analysis to provide instant insights into user behaviour and engagement
  • Advanced reporting and visualisation options, including custom dashboards and data exploration tools.

How to migrate to GA4?

Migrating from UA to GA4 can be a challenge, but Google has provided several resources to help simplify the process.

One option is to create a new GA4 property and run both UA and GA4 simultaneously, allowing you to gradually transition to GA4 over time. Another option is to use the data import feature to transfer UA data to GA4.

Google support provides more details to help you migrate here:

How to create a GA4 property?

Creating a GA4 property is a simple process. Log in to your Google Analytics account, click on the "Admin" tab, select "Create Property," and choose "Web" or "App" depending on which platform you want to track. Enter the required information, such as the property name and URL, and click "Create."

Does GA4 use cookies?

Yes, GA4 uses cookies to track user behaviour. However, GA4 also allows for alternative tracking methods, such as using Google signals or custom user IDs, which can help improve data accuracy and privacy.

In conclusion, the switch to Google Analytics 4 is definitely worth it for businesses looking to gain deeper insights into user behaviour and improve their overall marketing strategies. With new features such as machine learning-powered predictive analytics, cross-device tracking, and enhanced privacy controls, GA4 is poised to help businesses stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. While the process of switching to GA4 can seem daunting, companies can ease the transition by seeking the help of digital marketing agencies such as JL Creative. With their expertise in analytics and data-driven marketing strategies, they can help businesses make the most of the new capabilities offered by GA4 and achieve their marketing goals.

Need help with implementing GA4 and a new Analytics strategy? Get in touch with us!
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