Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is more focused on giving marketers and advertisers a comprehensive understanding of their users and how they interact with their website or app across all major devices.
On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will no longer process data. You’ll be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for a period of time after July 1, 2023. However, new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties.
One of the biggest hurdles with clients is that they are unsure of what they don’t know. Some have never known that they never had Google Analytics setup on their domain – crazy, yes? After setting it up for them, the next question usually is “what am I looking at?”
First off, you can head over to the free Google Analytics 4 courses and learn a really in-depth knowledge about Google Analytics 4. I am not Google, but I’ve been working with their products for several years. And I want to share what I’ve learned.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google Analytics, a tool website owners use to track and analyze traffic data. The most recent version was Universal Analytics, but GA4 allows users to assess the full customer journey rather than individual touch points.
You can follow this tutorial if you need help installing Google Analytics on your WordPress website.
When you login to Google Analytics, you’ll be greeted with this home dashboard view. On the left is the navigation panel where you can access all the reports. There are four sections that you can access: Home, Reports, Explore, and Advertising.
When you login to GA4, the homepage summarizing the overall traffic, conversions, and revenue for the property you created. It’s a quick check to ensure everything is going as expected.
Some new reporting features include:
The Reports Snapshot displays an overview of reports in expandable summary cards instead of using longer reports to cover each use case. You can quickly identify trends and data irregularities.
Realtime reporting allows you to monitor activity as it happens on your domain. The reports are happening real time. The best use of this view is to make sure that your GA4 is live on your domain and recording hits properly. If you are using UTM Parameters to track your marketing efforts, then you can test your campaigns to verify your tags.
The Acqusition report provides insight into how users find and engage with your content. It provides information such as which sources drive the most traffic, which campaigns work best, and how users from each source engage with your content.
The Engagement report provides insight into how users interact with your content, such as which pages they’re viewing, how long they stay on each page, and any actions they take. This can help you understand which content engages users the most and how to optimize it for better performance.
The Monetization report will show you your e-commerce data if you have an online shop connected to your website.
The Retention report provides insight into how users return to your content. It can help you understand which users are returning and why, helping you create content or campaigns that encourage users to come back.
Explore gives you access to analytical reports and data that isn’t available in standard GA4 reports. It’s a collection of advanced analysis tactics, going beyond the standard reports that help you gain deeper insights into user journeys and customer behavior.
The advertising snapshots report helps you explore key business metrics like conversion performance and customer acquisition costs.
Differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics
- Bounces: GA4 replaced the bounce rate with a new metric called “Engaged sessions” – an inversion of bounce rate. It measures active user interactions rather than a lack of them.
- Users: In Google Analytics 4, a new user metric called “Active Users” is introduced. In Universal Analytics, the only user metrics are Total Users and New Users. The “Active Users” metric will be the primary metric in GA4. It represents the number of engaged users who visited your website or app.
- Pageviews: GA4 replaced Pageviews with Views – total number of app screens and/or web pages your users saw.
- Purchases: Purchase events in GA4 are recommended and collect data in a similar fashion to UA.
- Sessions: The session_start event in GA4 generates a session ID and Analytics associates the session ID with each subsequent event in the session.
- Conversions: You specify a conversion event in GA4 for each action that you want to count as a conversion.
- Event count: Every “hit” is an event and GA4 events have no notion of Category, Action, or Label.
You need to spend some time reviewing your data and understanding it throughout the various reports within GA4. Now is the time to get familiar with GA4, educate yourself, and create measurement strategies. So get in there! Google Analytics is a very powerful tool for you to have in your toolkit.
Get in touch now to see how I can help you setting up your GA4 account.
Note: This post was originally published July 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.