Google Analytics – known as the foundation of activity measurement on the modern digital web. Like many other Google-branded properties, it has been started as the product of a ground-breaking start-up. Since then, three GA versions have been widely available for users. Last October 2020, the newest update was unveiled: the Google Analytics 4 or GA4.
And while GA4 has been available for almost three years, learning how useful it is and what makes it different from others is very important. Do you know that starting on July 1 2023, support for Universal Analytics (old GA) will end and the impact could be huge.
And it all means that today is the perfect time to upgrade your account and switch to GA4 to ensure your business is on top of the game and, most importantly, you can continue obtaining data for the rest of 2023 and beyond.
In this blog post, find out what GA4 is, why it matters, its benefits, its differences compared to Universal Analytics, and some of its key benefits for your business.
What Is Google Analytics 4 and Why Does it Matter?
GA4 is the next generation of cross-device, cross-platform tracking where all your data is merged in one central location – the new GA4 property. Within the new GA property, you can set up data streams from one or more of your sources, including Android, iOS, and website.
According to Google, this upgrade’s primary benefit is better understanding the user’s journey by collecting app and website data. GA4 has machine learning and AI integrations and offers better privacy controls to help you understand your data and make well-informed decisions.
All of these features are engineered to deliver one holistic source and offer users like you a big-picture approach to your online presence.
The bottom line? Better data allows you to make better decisions. And GA4 is the best source of the most accurate data you need.
Universal Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4
Universal Analytics is the former GA. And now that GA4 has finally taken over, it’s difficult not to compare the two. So, we break down some of the notable differences between these two properties:
- Hit Types: A significant difference between GA4 and UA is how interactions are now being captured. In UA, interactions are often captured in different hit types like transactions, page views, and social interactions. In the newest GA4 property, all interactions are captured in just one event. Also, since the two data models are totally different, Google highly suggested implementing new logic that makes sense to the new context rather than copying existing events.
- Session calculations: Another big difference between GA4 and UA that has become apparent is the differing value of sessions. In UA, a session embodies the period that users are actively engaged with your website, and in GA4, the session starts with a session ID where all the next events during sessions are linked together. Looking into the meaning behind session calculation/duration is very important as it helps you determine the status of your SEO performance and whether you are ranking higher on the SERPs.
- Exports to BigQuery are Free: With GA4, BigQuery exports are accessible to all properties, and in UA, these exports are limited. And this means that with GA4, you can send raw events, which can then be queried with SQL. The functionality will not cost you anything as long as your usage is within the limit for Big Query.
- Bounce rate and engagement rate: In GA4, the bounce rate is equal to the percentage of sessions that are not engaged sessions. So, it only means that the bounce rate is the opposite of the engagement rate, which refers to the number of engaged sessions divided by the total number of sessions in a particular period. In Universal Analytics, bounce rate is often estimated as the percentage of web users that did not view more than one page on your website.
- Google Tag Manager: If you are using the most basic functionality of UA, you may use it without Google Tag Manager. With GA4, it is no longer possible, and every single goal is now event-based. So, it is more crucial than ever to know the nitty-gritty of Google Tag Manager, especially if you are putting effort into your marketing campaigns.
- Account Structure: In UA, the account structure is comprised of three main elements, Account, Property, and View. But GA4 breaks down into two elements: accounts and property. And this only means that GA4 does not anymore contain Views.
Key Benefits of Google Analytics 4
Now, let’s take a closer look into the functionalities and features of GA4 in more detail:
1. You see more of your user journey
Google Analytics is not the same anymore, especially in how it structures reports within the platform. Everything has changed to its core. GA4 emphasized the users and their interactions – all captured as an event, as stated recently in the previous section. In comparison to the old version of GA, everything was measured as sessions. So, it changes from session to event.
This new user focus is an event-driven model. And this only means you can now use a single set of dimensions and metrics to look at your website and app data, allowing for a more intelligent combination.
2. Analysis tools are more focused on user engagement
Apart from capturing and integrating more data, Google has made GA4 more intuitive for web marketers, analysts, and web owners to dig into user-centric reports – by positioning report menu sections of the customer journey.
Gone already are the Audience, Behavior and Conversion, and Acquisition menus. The new “Lifecycle” section splits analysis into Engagement, Acquisition, Monetization, and Retention in their respective places. Moreover, a separate “User” section now emphasizes user demographics and technology.
3. Create a more powerful audience for your ad campaigns
GA4 comes with more upgraded measurements and more powerful analyst tools and integrations. And this means a more powerful audience for your online marketing campaigns. In addition, these new predictive metrics released by Google can help oversee your traffic channel and optimize your target audience faster and more intelligently.
Google is set to continue to add new features for GA4 that help you identify the best audience, helping you to reach a high value of customers.
4. More intelligent tracking features and user privacy
GA4 gives you and your users more precise and intuitive control over what personal data is obtained. This functionality can help you comply with existing and future privacy protocols. This new approach to analytics is specifically designed to be more adaptable and flexible, where cookies will be less common and where privacy can become the central concern for the users.
5. Simplify goals and events set-up
Google introduced the “Event Editing and Synthesis” feature, and it enables you to improve your goal-tracking process and get detailed behavioral data with little to no requirements for editing code and optimizing goal set-up. If you notice, what used to be extremely complex is now easier and straightforward, which is entirely useful for your transactional functions. This new functionality helps you with your application forms and checkouts on your website.
Right from the very start, GA4 pre-creates many events and actions that are never present in the older GA.
6. Enhanced visualizations and reporting
While most of the UI has remained the same in the GA4 platform, you will notice a couple of new visualizations and reporting features. Existing visualizations like “Real Time” has been improved and made more engaging. However, the additional reporting visualizations are the total game changer.
The Analysis Hub also showcases a template gallery with charts that can be created, like funnel analysis, exploration, path analysis, and segment overlaps. This functionality helps you to simplify some complex cross-dimensional metric reporting.
7. A plethora of parameters
When it comes to analytics, having accurate data and comprehensiveness for different metrics is vital to get value from them. While more data does not always mean better data, having the right parameters is beneficial.
In GA4 properties, you can send parameters with every event. Parameters are additional bits of information that can specify the user’s action or add more context to a certain event. With these parameters, you can describe the value of a purchase and offer more context into where, how, and why the purchase was logged.
This new and fully enhanced GA4 property is a re-architecture of the platform we once knew and loved (referring to UA). And there will be more features awaiting to be explored and benefits you will soon reap when you upgrade your account.
What’s Next? Partner with ConstructionMarketing.io!
Transitioning to GA4 is inevitable. With GA4 set to affect the many ways we measure online behavior in the future, getting a head start on education, strategy, planning, and implementation will be essential for your construction business to thrive and succeed.
If you want professional support on your GA4 initiatives, you have come to the right people.
ConstructionMarketing.io is a trusted full-service agency that can help your business migrate to GA4 seamlessly. We have a team of dedicated Google Analytics-certified experts that can help you transition smoothly from Universal Analytics to GA4.
Our GA4 set-up includes:
- Account Structure
- Basic Settings and Out of the Box Configuration
- Integration of Additional Google Accounts
- Audience Set-up
- Collection of Sensitive Data
- Event and conversion set-up
ConstructionMarketing.io is a trusted choice for all construction businesses transitioning to GA4. On top of that, we devise marketing strategies tailored to your business needs – helping you to achieve a great feat toward your leads acquisition goals!
Contact us today and learn more about how we can help you get the most out of this new powerful platform.