Google Analytics 4 is just around the corner, so it’s time to prepare for a strategy switch-up. On the back of Google’s announcement to replace Universal Analytics on the 1st of July 2023, the way we track our site success is about to evolve.
While we still have a few months before the big switch, it’s time to start gearing up your marketing team for a GA4 future. Bringing new complexities to data collection, new levels of software security and multi-device accessibility, the shift from Universal Analytics to GA4 will not be an overnight process.
Stick with us as we walk you through GA4’s exciting new features and reveal how your marketing team can prepare for an exciting data-driven transformation.
Has Universal Analytics become obsolete?
According to experts from W3techs, over 56% of all Google Analytics users employ the software to track session duration and page bounce rate. However, using the Universal version, many of those online measurements have been anchored to desktop-specific insights.
“Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies,” claims Google’s Product Management Director, Russell Ketchum. “This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.”
In a new online landscape dominated by new digital devices and the first-party future for cookie collection, Universal Google Analytics is due for a mass upgrade. In order to serve a new generation of multi-functional site structures and an influx of mobile-based traffic, GA4 is just the start of a streamlined future.
Designed to deliver cross-platform insights, Google Analytics 4 aims to improve data tracking across a number of online platforms, social sites and even mobile apps. Let’s have a closer look at what this change could mean for keen marketers in 2023.
What will GA4 bring to the table?
GA4 is set to revolutionise data collection in 2023. As a new durable version of Google Analytics, GA4 will be privacy-focused and strive to expand insight generation across a number of platforms and devices.
Streamlining journey tracking
In a new streamlined design, the new software will use advanced machine learning to track customer journeys in real-time.
Business leaders looking to track the performance of both a website and an application will especially benefit from GA4’s new software. With the update scrapping the segmentation of sessions between app and site, marketers will gain a better understanding of a customer’s journey from A-Z without being broken up into different platforms.
(Image Source: Google Analytics)
Better still, as GA4 welcomes a new era of expanded insights in collaboration with Google Ads that work to combine web and app data, marketers will see a more accurate result.
Valuable data collection & predictive insights
With the ability to harvest cross-platform data specifics, those who use GA4 will enjoy more valuable data collection. We’re talking more predictive insights and more information than ever before on user behaviour and conversion patterns. This is essential in the wake of an e-commerce boom. After the industry grew by a third in 2020 alone, GA4 will help marketers hyper-personalise their campaigns and optimise their audience segmentation.
So, how will GA4 do this? Well, the new update comes with two new predictive metrics that will drive the accuracy of campaign optimisation. These are purchase probability and churn probability, which predicts the likelihood of purchase and app abandonment.
Using these predictive analytics to your advantage, you’ll have a better shot at targeting the leads most likely to convert.
A push for privacy
One of the key changes Google wants to implement is a push for more data privacy.
After 61% of internet consumers claimed that they wanted more control over their data in 2022, businesses are working hard to ensure high levels of data protection and transparency moving forward.
GA4 is set to take privacy protection one step further. Introducing granular, more comprehensive controls to their data collection software, Google Analytics will no longer store IP addresses in line with international data privacy trends.
In addition, the new system will allow all users to customise data accessibility and choose which external teams/partners have access to each set of data.
How to Prepare for the Shift to GA4
While we may have a few months to wait for a complete shift to Google Analytics 4, it’s important that your marketing team are prepared well ahead of time.
There are three ways to get started with the GA4 update. From setting up a new analytics account to adding GA4 to your existing Universal Analytics account, there are plenty of ways to incorporate the software into your strategy.
(Image Source: Google Support)
Once installed, it’s time to start preparing your team for the GA4 update. From engaging in employee training to updating your other forms of data collection, you must make sure that your team know Google Analytics inside and out.
Update Your Data Layer
One way to gear up your team for GA4 is to update your data layer. A data layer is used by marketers to track their conversion funnel. So, when converting your data layer from UA to GA4, it’s time to make sure that it follows the platform’s new structure.
Your data layer will play an essential role in almost every action performed on-site, so if you make sure it’s optimised, your Google Analytics will gather more valuable insights.
For example, if a visitor interacts with your site content, a well-optimised data layer is able to highlight this interaction as an event. The more events your data layer stores, the easier it is for GA4 to collect insights into user behaviours and page-based trends.
Update Your Google Tag Manager (GTM)
If you’re not familiar will Google Tag Manager, it’s time to get acquainted. If you want to streamline your shift to GA4, this will get you up and running in no time.
“Tag Manager gives you the ability to add and update your own tags for conversion tracking, site analytics, remarketing and more.” claim Google experts. “There are nearly endless ways to track activity across your sites and apps, and the intuitive design lets you change tags whenever you want.”
(Image Source: Google Tag Manager)
If you’re currently using Google Tag Manager, it’s vital that you set up a new data layer, especially for GA4.
Combining Google’s Tag Manager with the Google Analytics update will help reduce the load on a page and control the feeding of data to site vendors.
Better still, why not turn to ‘Server Side Implemented Tag Management? Introducing a hosted server to your GTM container will increase your data accuracy and optimise the effectiveness of your data layer. The key here is to ensure that you invest in a reliable website hosting platform, especially if your GTM is dealing with high influxes of traffic.
Keep talking to your team
Last but not least, it’s time to start merging your teams for a sure shot at success. Keeping your employees in the loop on the run-up to GA4 will put your company in a better position when the update comes into effect.
Collaborate with marketing executives, SEO leaders and reporting experts and discuss questions and concerns relating to the upcoming shift.
Taking time to prioritise your digital strategy alongside team training will make the transition into a GA4 future seamless.