In October 2020, Google announced that they are retiring, or “sunsetting”, Universal Analytics from July 1, 2023. Instead, they will launch its advanced version, Google Analytics 4. So, for now, while you transition, GA4 and Universal Analytics can run parallelly on a website.
What is Google Analytics 4 or GA4?
Google Analytics 4, the next generation of Analytics, will simplify the data collection process and increase its accuracy. It will unify the reporting between the website and app, making it easier to understand how users interact on the respective platforms.
Here is a timeline of Google Analytics-
- In 1995, Urchin, launched by the company Quantified Systems, became a popular web traffic analysis tool. In 2005, Google acquired Urchin Software and renamed it to Urchin from Google for free service.
- Then the Classic Google Analytics was introduced in two versions, Synchronous and Asynchronous, in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
- Later Universal Analytics was launched, and then in 2012, Analytics Tag was released as the beta version for larger organizations. In 2013, it was opened to the public, providing detailed information about user behaviour.
- In 2016, all Classic Analytic properties were merged with Universal Analytics, and new properties were added.
- In October 2020, Google launched the next generation of Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4. Previously, users required two separate properties to analyze the web and app, but now it can be done within a single property.
Here are a few new incorporations in GA4:
- Better understanding of user journey: Collects app and website data simultaneously to better assess customer behaviour and journey.
- Event-based tracking: Collects data on an event-based model instead of a session-based model.
- Better user privacy: Includes enhanced privacy controls like cookieless measurement and behavioural and conversion modelling.
- Better usability for new users: Predictive capabilities offer guidance and no longer require complex models.
- Integration with media platforms: Direct integrations to media platforms help drive actions to your website or app.
Why Should I Switch to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
Are you still pondering whether or not to switch to GA4? Then, let us tell you the earlier you switch to the advanced Google Analytics 4, the better it is for you. It is because of four significant reasons:
- Firstly, Universal Analytics will stop working from July 1, 2023. Then you’ll have no platform to track data.
- Secondly, with the advanced capabilities of GA4, you’ll get accurate and robust data which will ultimately help you make better-informed strategies.
- Thirdly, since GA4 tracking methodology is upgraded from UA, setting it up in parallel will help account owners compare data between the two versions.
- Lastly, setting up the account now will help you troubleshoot any issues that may occur before GA4 is completely enforced from July 2023.
Benefits of Google Analytics 4 Implementation
Here are a few advantages of shifting to Google Analytics 4:
- GA4 enables more accurate and robust cross-platform and cross-device tracking.
- Accurately records unique users across all platforms.
- An advanced analysis report is available for GA 360 users.
- Free connection to BigQuery.
- Automated tracking for certain types of events.
- Availability of debugging within the reporting interface.
- Cross-platform insight is available.
- Introduction of a new set of engagement metrics for improved data accuracy.
How to Create a New Google Analytics Account and GA4 Property
Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a Google Analytics account and Google Analytics 4 property.
1. Login to your Google account and go to Google Analytics or click here.
2. Click on Start Measuring.
3. Fill in your Account Name and click Next.
4. Now fill in Property Name and select Reporting Time Zone and Currency.
5. To create a Google Analytics account along with GA4 Property, click on Show Advanced Options.
6. Now Switch ON the toggle, and it will turn bright blue.
7. Then type the website URL and select either option: Create both a Google Analytics 4 and a Universal Analytics Property or Create a GA4 Property only. Click Next.
8. Provide relevant details About Your Business by selecting the appropriate options. These include industry category, business size, how you intend to use Google Analytics for your business and so on. Click Create.
9. Tick the relevant boxes to accept the Google Analytics Terms of Service. Then click on I Accept.
10. Now you will be redirected to the Web Stream Details screen, wherein you can find the Measurement ID at the top right corner. Add the measurement ID to your website via CMS, GTM or manually to start tracking the data.
A Step-By-Step Guide Upgrading to GA4 from UA
If you already have a Universal Analytics Property and want to upgrade to GA4, then follow this quick step-by-step guide:
1. Click on Admin.
2. Under the Property column, click on GA4 Setup Assistant.
3. Now you will be redirected to Google Analytics 4 Property Setup Assistant. Click on Get Started. Make sure you’ve selected the account you want to upgrade; under the account column.
4. Now a pop-up must have come up on your screen. Click on Create Property.
5. Here, Connected will be written in front of Google Analytics 4 Property Setup Assistant, and a Property ID will be provided.
6. Click on See Your GA4 Property, and you will land on the Setup Assistant screen. Click the arrow (>) under Tag Installation to go to the Data Stream screen.
7. Click the arrow (>) under Data Stream, and you will see the option for web stream details. Here, you will find the Measurement ID at the top right corner.
8. Finally, you have upgraded to GA4.
Google Analytics 4 Navigation Explained
After creating an account or transitioning to Google Analytics 4, it’s time to understand its navigation bar. Its navigation is divided into five tabs: Home, Reports, Explore, Advertising and Configure.
Home: This page consists of an overview of different reports on Google Analytics with insights about traffic, engagement, and conversions. Additionally, you can see smart insights provided by GA4 based on its analysis of the available data for the selected date range.
Report: This tab allows you to measure user engagement based on the events and conversion events a user carries out and the web pages and app screens a user visits. This, in turn, will help you assess the pages and screens with the most user engagement and comprehend user behaviour.
Explore: This tab is a remarkable change in GA4. It gives you a custom report like Google Data Studio. Here you get access to several advanced techniques and a template gallery that isn’t available anywhere else.
Advertising: It allows you to instantly check the conversion metrics for your campaigns on various channels, based on which you can, later on, dig deeper into the areas you want to know more about.
Configure: You can use this section to set up conversions and troubleshoot tracking via real-time reports. As per the latest update, configure settings have moved to the Admin section.
Understanding Google Analytics 4 Reports
Report Snapshot: The report’s dashboard where one can see an overview of the account’s performance.
Realtime: This is where you can track real-time activity related to engaged sessions, sources, users, conversions and more.
Acquisition: Divided into sessions and traffic, this tab reports data on engagement and actions taken on various channels, used by the marketing team for its promotional activities.
Engagement: Here, you can view how the conversions are happening, total conversions, conversions source & more.
Monetization: Reports of enhanced ECommerce conversions and in-app purchases are displayed here.
Retention: Reports of new users and returning users are shown here.
User: Data related to the user’s demographic and tech is shown here. The demographics include city, country, and age. Tech includes platform, device, browser etc.
How Google Analytics 4 is Helpful for Marketers
Here is a list of benefits that marketers can gain from using GA4:
- Better accuracy regarding user experience on your website, like conversion path reporting. Consolidation of data type makes it easier to match data across user journeys.
- New ability to gather data of both app and website on one property.
- Many areas where technical support was required are now automated.
- GA4 provides a suite of features that allows automatic tracking of additional features like scrolling below 90% of the page height, outbound link clicks, interactions with embedded YouTube video player, file downloads, site search, etc.
Our experienced digital marketing team at Sharp Instincts has closely worked with clients to create their Google Analytics 4 account and transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. You, too, shall be well-served by engaging with our services. Get in touch today to learn more.