GA4 — Making the switch
25th July, 2023
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Change is difficult — especially when you’ve been doing things the same way for over a decade. While Google gave us fair warning, one month into Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and some businesses are still grappling with the migration. Here Courtney Cowperthwaite, account manager at digital PR specialist Stone Junction, explores the new features of GA4 and advises on how to set up the platform for success.
Google Analytics has always been a go-to tool for marketers, providing valuable information about website traffic, user behaviour and conversions. With the introduction of GA4, marketers now have access to a more advanced and comprehensive analytics platform.
What’s the difference?
One noticeable difference between Universal Analytics (UA) and GA4 is that users can track website and app data in the same property, giving more visibility over interactions as a whole.
Additionally, in UA, interactions were primarily captured through page views. This meant that each time a user visited a page on a website, a page view was recorded. While this provided UA users with valuable information about website traffic, it lacked the granularity needed to understand user behavior in detail.
Search behaviour is also no longer limited to linear searches on a single platform. People now interact with brands through various platforms, channels, and devices. GA4 recognises this and provides a more comprehensive picture of user behaviour, enabling businesses to gain a deeper understanding of their audience's preferences, interests, and engagement patterns so they can tailor their marketing strategies accordingly.
To address these changes in search behaviour, GA4 prioritises what is calls events. An event is any user interaction with your website or app that can be tracked. This includes clicks, form submissions, video plays, and more. By tracking events, GA4 provides a more detailed and nuanced understanding of user behavior, allowing marketers to drill down into specific actions and interactions.
This new event-based model has significant implications for PR and digital marketing strategies. By focusing on different events, whether it’s watching a video, downloading an asset or filling out a contact form, GA4 enables marketers to gather more insightful and context-rich data about user interactions. This shift allows businesses to gain a deeper understanding of what resonates with their audience and make more informed decisions about their marketing efforts.
Setting up for success
Why did many of us take so long to migrate to GA4? Maybe because, while UA had a range of pre-built dashboards, GA4 requires users to create their own custom dashboards, which can be difficult and time-consuming. For those wondering where to start, take a look at goals you measured on UA and explore how to translate those into events. Then, before making any changes on your property dashboard, it’s a good idea to explore the demo account. That way, you can try different set ups and understand the platform without affecting the data.
With the shift towards event-based tracking in GA4, the importance of using Tag Manager becomes even more important. Tag Manager allows marketers to easily implement and manage tracking codes for various events on their website. By using Tag Manager, businesses can ensure that every event and interaction is properly tracked and measured, providing a more accurate and comprehensive view of their analytics data.
While getting used to a new version of Google Analytics is an adjustment, if it gives us better insight into what resonates with our audience, it’s worth embracing the change.
Want some help building your GA4 dashboard? Here at Stone Junction our team can help you decide on the most valuable events for your business goals. Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.