The next generation of analytics is here, bringing with it new features and smart insights to guide better business decision making. But if the transition to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is not carefully managed, businesses are at risk of data disruption and loss.
From July 1, standard Universal Analytics – the current version of Google Analytics – will stop processing new data. Past reports will be available for a while, but after this date new data will only be collected by GA4. This means businesses needed to complete the switchover before July 1 to keep receiving website analytics data. If GA4 has not been installed in time, there will be permanent gaps in business data.
GA4 will be structured differently to previous versions of Google Analytics. The main difference is that GA4 uses event-based data, while Universal Analytics uses session-based data. What this means in practice is that website interactions will be more measurable and GA4 is better able to predict user behaviour. Events can be set up to track specific interactions such as landing on a page, clicking a link or making a purchase to understand customer journeys across websites and mobile apps.
Switching over to GA4 is, unfortunately, not the simplest process and even some experienced marketers are coming up against challenges. The tricky part comes when transitioning from Universal Analytics to GA4. For starters, the interface is completely different. There are also concerns about the technicality of the platform, making it difficult to find specific data. For a smoother transition, to protect valuable data and to receive ongoing insights, many businesses are opting for professional support from an experienced marketer or agency.
The importance of analytics and GA4 for businesses
Analytics help businesses formulate digital marketing strategies based on real-life data that shows how people are interacting with a website. In particular, GA4 can help businesses answer important questions including:
- Are there any technical issues affecting the website?
- Can customers find what they want?
- Are sales/conversions happening? If so, where?
- Where can improvements be made?
- What journeys do visitors take through the website?
In terms of digital strategy, GA4 is used for:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO). This is the practice of optimising a website to help it rank on search engines, making it more visible to more people. Under ‘acquisition,’ GA4 will show where website traffic is coming from and how many people are finding it through organic search – that is, unpaid listings returned by a search engine. By connecting GA4 to Google Search Console, keyword data can also be viewed to reveal which terms drive traffic to a website.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC advertising places ads on search engines to gain more clicks through to a website. When carrying out paid advertising, Google Ads accounts can be linked to GA4 to show the whole customer lifecycle. Data then flows between the two platforms to give maximum control over campaigns and achieve better value for money.
- Website design and enhancement. Analytics provide essential insights to inform the creation of new pages, content or even whole websites, designed with real customers in mind.
- Content creation. GA4 shows how site visitors interact with specific content so businesses can prioritise what works, from videos to articles and more.
GA4 will provide more intuitive insights than ever before, which is ideal for shaping a full-scale digital strategy.
“Analytics are at the centre of what we do for our clients,” said Chris Freeman, Director of Eighty Eight Digital. “Using insights from GA4, we can build a strategy out to ensure clients reach their goals. Our services include SEO, PPC advertising and website design – without analytics, it’s guesswork. Analytics show user behaviour in real time so we can give our clients actionable insights that can actually grow their businesses.”
Chris and his team have been supporting many of their clients through the transition to GA4 in recent months.
“It’s challenging, but we’re here to offer support,” Chris added. “We can obtain account access and manage the whole transition process, getting GA4 set up to suit individual aims. This way, we know our clients will get tailored analytics insights that we can use to increase revenue from their websites.”
Are you concerned about the GA4 switchover? If you have already switched, are you getting the most out of GA4 and its full suite of features? Eighty Eight Digital can help to manage the transition, optimise web analytics and make data-driven decisions for better business performance.