Google analytics is a very handy application in any business’ tool belt, which means that if you’re day-to-day and long-term business decisions are data driven (I.E, pretty much every good firm) then you’ll want to get your ducks in line sooner rather than later.
Perhaps you’ve had a look, and become subject to analysis paralysis to the new layout, or maybe you’re in a scramble to get Google Analytics 4 (GA4) ready in time before the cut-off in 2023.
If this is the case, then we feel you – but there are so many great reasons why you should get using GA4 right this minute (after you’ve read what we have to say, obviously).
In this article, we’ll detail why you should be getting prepared way before, and how you can get your shiny new property off the ground and working well for you.
What is Google Analytics?
If your new to this website data stuff, then Google’s free software is pretty much industry standard for collecting this kind of handy information.
There have been many different variations of the analytics product, but the one you’re probably most are familiar with right now is Universal Analytics. Using this tool, you can find out quite a bit about your website.
From geographic locations, to what pages people are coming onto your site from, the device they used, how long they spent, the valuable actions they carried out – the list is endless. Analytics really shines when you can effectively sift through the data and understand what is actually going on within your website.
Google Analytics has provided a lot more freedom to businesses, as this data can be used effectively to make the website work harder and help understand what is already working well.
GA3 is good, don’t get us wrong, but GA4 has some pretty nifty features to help you understand your audience and what goes on within your site that much better and clearer.
Why is it changing?
No one likes change, obviously, but Google Analytics 4 is actually quite a good one (once you get your head around how it works, it’s not so different from universal).
Probably the most crucial reason for this change is to do with data protection. GDPR, whilst a bit of a bother sometimes admittedly, ensures the right of citizens in the EU to privacy of their data – and GA4 does a better job of upholding this right.
Older iterations of Google Analytics have relied on methods like cookies (more info on these soon) to gain this data, which means a visitor’s privacy could potentially be at risk.
And in general, GA4 has made huge improvements in conversion tracking and developed into a more intuitive application. Google have crafted a tool which makes it far more efficient and easier to understand what is going on in your business digitally.
We can all agree that, while it will certainly take some getting used to, it’s well worth it to have our data protected that much more.
But it’s such a hassle to change
With everything else that goes on in your business, this is probably in the back of your mind to do.
For what it’s worth, it probably won’t take too long to make the switch. All that’s required is for you to enter into your property, and find the button which is labelled ‘GA4 Setup Assistant’. If your account does use google tagging, you can still enable the collection of valuable actions from tags you’ve made previously.
There’s always that option to ask for some help in getting you off the ground with GA4 from another team member, or even from a person outside the company (especially if your Google tagging is rather complex and you don’t have any developer experience).
I’ve tried it, but I can’t find the reports
Maybe you’re a step ahead and already took the initiative, but the more minimalist aesthetic has frightened you off from your current universal property.
It’s true that Google has changed up the navigation quite a bit from the Universal era, especially if you only look at it occasionally (and don’t really understand that much about it) then it understandably can be quite intimidating.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll find that the new look is nothing to fret about really. All it takes is a few minutes to familiarise yourself with, and you’re away!
We recommend first taking a glance in the ‘overview’ module. It will give you a, you guessed it, overview of some really useful analytics. All it takes is for you to be a bit adventurous and explore what GA4 has to offer from here – you’ll be a pro in no time.
What GA4 can do for your website
It may seem like Google is putting a spanner in the works of your website data collection, but it’s quite the opposite.
To get you feeling more positive and excited about Google Analytics 4, we want to share with you some really cool new features that will make your business more efficient.
See ya later sessions and visits, it’s all about events now
GA4 has now reduced the importance of sessions and visits, instead, events are the newest things you should be looking out for.
Whilst you can still see these stats within the home dashboard, the new addition of Google being able to track valuable actions on the website actually gives you a lot more to use in seeing how well the website is working.
Without any extra coding or technical jargon, you can view events such as ‘clicks’ on the website, ‘page scrolls’, and even when someone starts to watch an embedded video on your site. It obvious that the more we can visibly see in analytics, the better we can understand what is going on, so these events are a welcome addition.
You still have the option to add some google tagging too, but it’s great to know that you don’t have to have coding knowledge or hire an expensive programmer to see some more data.
No more cookies with GA4
As we mentioned earlier, cookies (not the choc chip kind sadly), historically have been used to track the data we need in analytics.
GA4 has done a really great job of helping protect privacy, as the application now does not rely on these to extract valuable insights. Ultimately, your efforts to make your website more user friendly will not result in a breach of privacy, making it a win-win for both the business and visitor.
Apps can also be reported on inside the property
If you’ve also got an app that people use and buy from, then this is another reason why you should switch to GA4 right now.
In the reports section, it is possible to make your analytics property a one-stop-shop for your platforms. This unification has meant that seeing the interactions and journeys across different devices, and from the website/app is now far easier.
In addition, having these separated means that the journeys people take are now much more visible. Knowing how people behave on different platforms can actually reveal a lot and help you refine each to get more of the valuable actions you’re after.
Conversion tracking, now made a whole lot easier
Knowing how many valuable actions are taking place on the website is essential information that you need to know, so it’s a good thing GA4 has made it easier than ever to do so.
The software can now identify valuable actions automatically, meaning that even if your knowledge of the application is quite limited, you’ll be able to view some important observations. If you’d like to assign a specific action, it’s as simple as going onto the event tag section and entering the specifics of what is determined as a conversion.
This means that knowing how many of each product PDF was downloaded instead of them all lumped into one conversion metric gives you a lot more to look at and evaluate.
A really handy way of knowing how many people have gone on to make a purchase or fill out a form is by tracking a visitor reaching the ‘Thank You’ page as a conversion metric. This is really simple to set up and name ‘Purchase’ for example. You’ll have a much better understanding of your website once you start adding your own conversions.
You can look at your merchant centre on here too
For those of you who also have an ecommerce element to your business, GA4 has made tying all aspects of your online selling together far easier.
If you’re selling products not only on your website, but also google merchant center, then you’re in luck. The latest analytics update makes it so much easier to look at these valuable streams of data simultaneously. Previous editions of the analytics family have not had this capability, all the more reason why you should upgrade now!
And just like universal, the ability to look at your google ads and search console all from one application hasn’t changed.
Speaking of google ads…
In comparison, universal didn’t offer as much fluidity with its Google Ads integration as what Google Analytics 4 can offer.
Not only can you do all the helpful functions like before, but now the added feature of importing targets and goals from google ads into your analytics property really does make GA4 the go-to for pretty much any action on your website.
More data on how people first come onto your site
Universal’s ability to show session and site traffic is cool and all, but the new ‘First User Medium’ reporting feature (located in the acquisition tab) does way more than just this.
Rather than just going off this rather basic metric, GA4 has given users the option to see more clearly where people who visit the site go and come onto your website from.
With this not being present in older variations, the new feature has given businesses a lot more opportunity to capture valuable data into what kind of funnel activity is best at attracting potential new customers.
Alongside the super sweet automatic conversion labelling feature, the reporting on conversions is just as.
With this added variable, the processes individuals take on the website become a lot clearer when looking at their behaviour. Universal, of course, did not come equipped with such metrics.
This data makes it a lot easier to understand a path someone takes on the website (especially what is going on in-between the start of a visit and a valuable action), meaning that your understanding of what might be helping and hindering a sale is better understood.
Multichannel reports haven’t gone anywhere
Thankfully, a very useful tab in Universal Analytics hasn’t vanished in the new version.
Within the ‘Advertise’ section of GA4, you’ll still be able to see the different touchpoints of a customer’s journey that led them to this valuable action.
When should you make the swap?
If all the cool new features and tools we’ve mentioned didn’t pump you up to make the change right now, then maybe this will.
Whilst the swap isn’t until July 2023 (which is far sooner than you think), the longer you leave it, the less data you’ll have to work with. Like any reputable business, data is a driving decision making force, so for you to be in the dark on what your website is doing is a bad decision to make for future business strategy.
To avoid this catastrophe, you should make the effort to set up your new account ASAP (like straight after you’ve finished this).
What should I do whilst I have both?
Hopefully, you’ll heed our advice to make your new account sooner rather than later, so in the meantime whilst you have both a universal and GA4 account, you should definitely try out a few things.
Whilst you’re adjusting to GA4, take this opportunity to work with both properties. This means going between the two and working out where each section is that you collect data from, so that you’ll be less confused when the time comes.
Lastly, be sure to make use of the ‘Events’ section when you’re adjusting. As you already know by now, the added reporting function will make a notable difference to how you digest the data placed in front of you. Hopefully, by doing this, you’ll begin to notice how much better GA4 is, and also reduce your anxiety of switching over to the new tool (maybe even before the cut-off date, who knows).
After reading all the reasons why you should get on GA4 ASAP, we hope that this blog has inspired you get ready for the future and eased your anxieties about the new software.
When should you leave your reporting to the experts
For many small to medium sized businesses, it can be very difficult to know when you should give up some tasks to an out-of-house company.
Even if you like to know what’s going on, you should always remember what you started your business journey to do, and not get bogged down in other elements that might be better suited to other people (even more so if you’re not proficient in data collection and reporting).
The team at redPepper can take the hard figures that your website generates, and turn them into something more tangible.
Instead of staring at your new GA4 analytics property, not knowing all the ins and outs in getting the most from your insights, hiring the experts to do just that can be a huge help in simplifying business decisions for the future.
If you’re interested in receiving a blissful email in your inbox each month detailing all the important stuff you should know, then maybe our reporting services might be what you’re looking for.
Feel free to book a meeting with us, or call 01787 223850 to see how we can help you worry about one less thing in your already busy work life.