Au Revoir Universal Analytics: A First Look at GA4 & It’s Features

In the world of web analytics, change is constant. Just when you think you’ve mastered data tracking and analysis, along comes a new and improved version of whatever tool you used to shake things up. The same can be said for Google Analytics (GA). By the time you read this article, there will be less than a month left before Universal Analytics becomes completely obsolete and Google Analytics 4 (GA) takes over completely.

Universal Analytics has been the go-to analytics tool for countless businesses and marketers over the years. Its robust features and insights have helped us understand user behaviour, track conversions, and optimise our online strategies. It was a useful tool in its time, but the time for change has come. In the article below we will take a look at what GA4 does better and what its primary benefits are. 

What Does GA4 Do Better?

GA4 is not just an update or a few new features thrown in. It’s an entirely different approach to analytics. Unlike its predecessor, GA4 is designed with the modern digital landscape in mind. It aims to provide a more holistic view of user interactions, allowing us to better understand the customer journey from initiation to completion.

One of the most significant differences is the shift from a session-based model to an event-based model. In Universal Analytics, the focus was on tracking pageviews and sessions. But with GA4, events take centre stage. Events can include actions such as button clicks, video views, form submissions, and more. This shift enables a deeper understanding of user engagement and interaction, providing valuable insights into what drives conversions and retention.


What GA4 Brings To The Table

GA4 offers several significant benefits that businesses can leverage to gain a competitive edge:

    • Improved Cross-Platform Tracking: GA4 changes the way businesses track user interactions across diverse devices and platforms. Seamlessly spanning websites, mobile apps, and even offline engagements, it provides a consolidated view of collected data. This comprehensive approach gives us deep insights into user behaviour throughout the entire customer journey, enabling smarter decision making and optimisation of marketing strategies.
    • Advanced Machine Learning Capabilities: GA4 harnesses the power of machine learning to provide actionable insights. It can automatically analyse patterns in user behaviour, identify trends, and offer recommendations to optimise marketing efforts. This empowers businesses to make data-driven decisions and drive better results.
    • Deeper Integration with Google Ads: GA4 offers improved integration with Google Ads, allowing for more accurate attribution and campaign optimisation. Marketers can now track the customer journey from ad impression to conversion, gaining a comprehensive understanding of campaign performance and ROI.
    • Privacy-Centric Approach: Privacy concerns are at the forefront of digital marketing, and GA4 addresses this by providing more options for data control and compliance. It aligns with Google’s privacy-first initiatives, ensuring that businesses can continue to collect valuable insights while respecting user privacy.

Event Creation And Modification

With a powerful new tool comes a powerful new way of setting up conversions. GA4 allows us to create and modify events according to specific goals, which then gives us the ability to track and measure events that are actually important to the business (and not just some arbitrary set of actions that offer no meaningful benefit other than artificially inflating progress reports). In other words, we can create and modify events in the tool to give us the exact data we need, which then allows us to optimise our campaigns accordingly and make more nuanced decisions that create better outcomes.

GA4 Events

Event Tracking

Data collection and analysis is the bread and butter of any decent marketing strategy. GA4 simultaneously simplifies the process and improves the quality of the results produced by giving us access to AI-driven, predictive metrics (including purchase probability and revenue prediction) that provide deeper insight into user behaviour and subsequently campaign performance. 

Key performance indicators (KPIs) like cross-platform tracking, engaged sessions, engagement time, and engagement rates give us a comprehensive overview of user behaviour, which can then be used to optimise campaigns further and drive better decision making. Furthermore, some events can be captured automatically (without any setup), but the tool also allows custom implementation to only capture relevant events.

New Engagement Metrics

GA4 scraps the “bounce rate” mechanic that was almost synonymous with Universal Analytics and replaces it with a more accurate system that measures user interactions in the form of “engagement sessions”. Instead of simply measuring how long a user spent on a particular page, GA4’s new engagement metrics take into account various user actions to provide a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of user interactions. 

GA4 Engaged Sessions Metric

For example, GA4’s new engagement metrics analyse actions like completing conversions, viewing multiple pages or screens, and maintaining website or app activity for a minimum period. With these metrics in hand, a company could gain deeper insights into user engagement patterns, identify areas for improvement, optimise conversion funnels, and refine marketing strategies to enhance overall user experience and drive better results.

Embracing GA4 And Transitioning To The New Normal

As Universal Analytics takes its final bow, GA4 steps onto the stage with a fresh perspective and a plethora of advanced features. It’s not just an upgrade; it’s a transformation in the way we analyse and understand user behaviour. Embracing GA4 positions businesses for success in the ever-evolving digital landscape, where data-driven decisions are paramount.

Contact us today to find out how TIDAL can help you make the all-important transition to GA4 and future-proof your data.

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