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GA4 is Here & Here’s What It Means For Your Business

As you may be aware, at the end of this month Google Analytics will be transitioning from GA3 (known as Universal Analytics, or UA) to GA4 (known as Google Analytics 4).

This is Google Analytics first major update since 2012. With this update most of how we currently use Google Analytics will dramatically change. During this transition period there are a few things you need to be aware of that may impact your reporting over the next few months.

For a majority of websites across the world (and those of our clients), Google Analytics is responsible for providing 90% of the data regarding their digital marketing performance. As an agency, it’s one of the main sources of analytics that we use to report:

  • Sessions
  • User numbers
  • Conversions

The shift from Google’s UA to GA4 is a big change and will impact how digital marketing metrics are reported You need to be aware of this shift so when you see inevitable reporting turbulence (and, you will!), you’ll understand why and what it means.

What is the difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics?

The main difference, indeed the point of Google’s choice to switch everyone over to GA4 is the increased level of data now available.

All the data you used for reporting in UA is available in GA4 (you might just find it’s called something else – looking at you, bounce rate vs engagement rate).

Alongside this higher level of data is the ability to track mobile and app use within the same analytics account, where previously they would be in their own properties and you’d need to toggle between them.

And, finally – event parameters. GA4 has a much more comprehensive event tracking functionality which means you can see beyond page views, and into video watches, clicks and more, with the help of Google Tag Manager.

There are a bundle of other benefits including product integration, machine learning and cookie(and IP)-less tracking, but for the purposes of keeping things basic and clear, we’ll put those to the side for now.

Can I do anything about the change to GA4?

No. This is a worldwide change from Google and will affect every Google Analytics user.

As of 1st July, UA will no longer report data going forward. You will have historical access to your data, but no new data will be created and you will need to use GA4.

Can I have both UA and GA4?

Technically, yes. You can have both tracking IDs on your website, they do not conflict with each other. However, as we mentioned above, as of 1st July, UA will no longer collect data, so it won’t be necessary to have the UA tracking ID on your website after then.

What do I need to do to switch to GA4?

If you’re a client of Business Assist, nothing. Business Assist have managed the transition of client reports to GA4.

If you’re not a Business Assist client, you will need to go through the process using Google’s migration tool.

Make sure to update and track your conversion events accurately. Not doing so could impact your other marketing channels, such as Google Ads – that often relies on communication between the two platform to run conversion-based campaigns.

What can I expect with GA4?

This update is new and virtually untested by Google. This may mean your reporting is impacted over the first 4-8 weeks.

This could look like numbers dramatically shifting up or down. Or, it is possible there are no effects, however, we expect some data to skew and take time to settle.

Google Tag Manager and GA4

As we mentioned above, utilising GTM works well to report on conversion events in the new GA4 reporting dashboard. They complement each other.

If you’re wondering, ‘do I need GTM for GA4?’ – you don’t need it in order for GA4 to track basic data on your website, but you do need it to track granular conversions and user activities on the site.

GTM gives you the ability to track new events on your website, without changing anything on your website code.

If you need help understanding your site’s analytics and/or reporting, our digital marketing experts are happy to help. And, why not sign up for a complementary 45 minute strategy session – obligation free.

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