Last Updated on March 6, 2023
On July 1, 2023, Google announced that standard Universal Analytics properties will halt the processing of new data hits, and has commented that they highly recommend that you prepare to implement and move forward with Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
What does this mean? It means that how businesses, marketers, and anyone interested in the data for their websites will no longer be able to report on new data with Google Universal Analytics past that date.
As for the historic data prior to that date, Google is saying you will lose access to the Google Universal Analytics data 6 months after. This is could cause a lot of website owners to panic as they are encouraged to export the historical reports during that time, and have to be set up for GA4.
If you are not currently set up for Google Analytics 4, please schedule a FREE consultation with our team. It is important to not wait until it’s too late.
In this article, we will talk about what Google Analytics 4 is, what Universal Analytics is, the differences, and some cool features of the new version and its reporting capabilities. We’ve also written another article about how GA4 event tracking works if that interests you.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is the newest release of Google Analytics. This is a completely new generation of web-based analytics that will assist marketing and business professionals to effectively analyze key customer metrics, not just simply track traffic on their website.
Google Analytics 4 introduces several new features for tracking user behavior such as cross-device analysis, AI-powered anomaly detection, and predictive modeling. The platform also provides deeper personalization capabilities through enhanced segmentation and user-level analysis. With these features, businesses can gain a better understanding of their customer’s behaviors and preferences so they can tailor marketing campaigns accordingly.
The new version of GA4 is available now in both free and premium versions, allowing businesses of all sizes to be able to access it. With its comprehensive suite of tools and customizable options, Google Analytics 4 has the potential to change the game with how companies track performance metrics online.
What is Google Universal Analytics (UA)?
Universal Analytics (UA), the previous version of the web analytics service by Google is the soon-to-be outdated version of the platform.
It offers real-time analytics and allowed a user to get an overview of visitors currently on the site. The site profile consists of about 100 profiles, each of which corresponds to one website with a specific traffic volume of fewer than 5 million pages viewed per month (two pages viewed per second).
What has changed with GA4?
For starters, GA4 processes user data in a different way than the previous version. Now everything is based around users and events rather than on sessions, as people have become accustomed to.
An event-based model processes each user’s data and acts as a separate event. Previously, we had to use a model that would group user interactions within a certain period of time. This change is significant.
By switching from sessions to events, marketing campaigns benefit greatly by facilitating cross-platform reporting with system adaptive tracking environments. GA4’s event-based programming model shows more adaptability in response to user behavior.
Google Analytics 4 Features
GA4 offers many new features that make it easier for businesses to measure their performance and optimize their marketing efforts. Some features include:
- Enhanced website tracking tools
- Improved measurement of app usage and engagement
- Better segmentation capabilities for targeting audiences
- More accurate attribution models for understanding customer journeys
Additionally, GA4 provides powerful predictive analytics tools which can help identify trends in user behavior so that companies can adjust their strategies in real time.
Google Analytics 4 Reports
Amongst all of the new features available, one of the most important is reporting. Below we will go over different types of reports and how to best think of them to bring the most value.
Best Ways to Use GA4 Reports
When you first log in, information on the home page will give an overview of traffic, conversions, and sales for your property. Use this information to see that everything is operating as it should.
Your home-page report will swiftly let you know:
- Where do new users come from?
- What are your best-performing campaigns?
- Which pages receive the most views?
The next default report is the Realtime Report, which reveals events that occurred within the past 30 minutes.
Examples the Realtime Report will be useful to:
- Understand how your social channels better affect your site
- View metrics in real-time during a new product drop or service offering
Life Cycle Reports
Lifecycle reporting parallels the funnel of acquiring, interacting, monetizing, and maintaining customers. It’s a great tool for analyzing how users arrive in the funnel and how they behave while they’re in it.
Examples the Life Cycle Report will be useful for:
- Analyzing how users arrive in the funnel
- How users behave within the funnel
Explorer Reports: Analysis Hub
The new Analysis Hub is an extremely useful tool, that could be proved to be the most valuable to the likes of many marketers.
While default reports let you track key business metrics, GA4 Analysis Hub gives you access to an assortment of advanced features and a template gallery that’s unavailable anywhere else.
GA4: Exploration Analysis
With GA4 sourcing, you now have more control of the visualization and its presentation than before with Universal Analytics.
There is a considerable amount of configuration flexibility within exploration to help you define new insights and represent your findings in a way that is helpful for your peers or partners.
GA4: Funnel Analysis
Here, you can review every step a user takes to complete a task and monitor his or her success or failure at each step throughout the funnel.
Understanding a user’s journey allows you to optimize your funnel if you’re seeing drop-offs occurring in certain areas.
GA4: Cohort Analysis
A set of users that share a common characteristic, such as a common purchase date, a common event, or the same conversion, is a Cohort in this context.
You could then generate a cohort report to better understand how long it takes a certain group to take certain actions you set as a goal within a campaign.
GA4: User Lifetime Analysis
Creating a user lifetime report allows you to visualize which main sources are driving users that make up the highest lifetime revenue, not just of a selected month.
In Google Analytics 4, you have the ability to see which marketing campaigns are yielding the most valuable users with the highest conversion odds.
GA4: Path Analysis
Another huge benefit of utilizing Google Analytics 4 is the upgrade to the behavior flow reports from the previous Universal Analytics, deemed – Path Analysis.
Path analysis shows the sequence of events revealed in a tree graph. The event stream is the sequence of events that users trigger along their path.
This allows for a better understanding of repeated behavior that could indicate users having issues passing through certain parts of their journey.
GA4: Segment Overlap
Both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 properties are able to utilize Segments.
Segments are able to be utilized as sessions or user events. This allows being able to build segments that contain various conditions, which can then be used to create groups based around those segments to better identify any overlap they may have.
Conclusion: Should I Upgrade to GA4?
GA4 is the current analytics upgrade that we needed. It gives marketers more flexibility and a way to predict user behavior while maintaining user privacy.
After learning about some of the new features mentioned above, Google stopped the data from being sent to Universal Analytics soon – historical data is lost, so it shouldn’t be a question if upgrading to GA4 should be a priority for your business.
Do not wait and have the chance to lose the ability to report properly on your website. Being able to understand how your website is performing is crucial to any business.
If you need help making the switch, or need to be set up properly – contact us today!