In case you haven't heard, Google Analytics is in the middle of transitioning to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) properties and the traditional Universal Analytics (UA) property that you're likely running on your website to collect analytics data will be switched off on 1st July 2023.
While many of us have been using a head-in-the-sand approach to this information, it's time to sit up and tackle it bravely, head-on. Now is the time to set up your GA4 property to run in conjunction with your current UA property so that when the switch-off date rolls around your new property has historical data collected and can start delivering useful insights for your business straight away.
And truly, setting up the GA4 property is not too tricky - promise! Follow these instructions: set up my GA4 property
(if you are on one of IT Basecamp's Digital Packages
you don't need to worry about this setup, we've taken care of it for you and your new GA4 property is set up and gathering data).
Once you've set up the GA4 property check all the correct data streams that you will need are connected. It's these data streams that allow you to connect a single Analytics property to the various places where users interact with your business:
- if you only have a website you will only need one data stream to connect your website to the GA4 property
- if you have a website AND an app you will potentially need three data streams to combine the reporting and insights from each of these platforms into a single Analytics property - one data stream for the website, one for the iOS version of the app and one for the Android app version.
And you'll notice further down the menu options you can link the property to your Google Ads account and other products to start pulling data from those sources too.
Once you're done and you've checked back the next day to be sure the data streams are successfully collecting data it's fine to just leave it be and continue using the Universal Analytics property you're familiar with. However, it's a great idea to pop into to the GA4 property every week or so just to familiarise yourself with the look and feel.
In a month or so you'll start to notice personalised insights being suggested in the GA4 property for your business. This is one of the core feature improvements that is GA4. Universal Analytics reports your data, whereas GA4 is using machine learning to analyse the data it collects and deliver insights for your business.
For example, this image is from a GA4 account set up in early June and by July was delivering insights into the customer journey between ads and organic search:
So what are the differences?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
|Uses a session-based data model (ie tracks a user's actions in the current time period)
||Uses an event-based data model (ie tracks users across their conversion journey even if the come back later or change devices)
|Limited cross-device and cross-platform reporting
||Full cross-device and cross-platform reporting (using either Google identifier or your chosen identifier, like website login perhaps, whichever is most appropriate)
||Machine learning throughout to improve and simplify the discovery of insights
|Many predefined reports for viewing your data
||A handful of overview reports that cover a single insight into your business. Drill down to explore this insight or use the Explorations section to allow you to analyse the specific dimensions and metrics you're interested in.
||Data streams allow you to connect a single Analytics property to various places where users interact with your business, eg website, Android app, iOS app
||Export your data to BigQuery and store it in the cloud, combine it with data from other sources, run queries across all your data sets, or move data to other systems you want to use
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