Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is the latest version of Google’s content tracking software. It was designed to help businesses better understand user behaviors, interactions, and journeys by providing comprehensive insights into customer activities across channels. With GA4, marketers and the agencies who support them can look beyond surface-level data to gain meaningful awareness of customer interactions through trend analysis. In addition, Google Analytics 4 properties enable users to take a proactive approach to maximize the value their customers deliver. By understanding the context of user experiences, businesses can develop targeted outreach strategies that drive more effective results while providing a personalized user experience.
On the other hand, Universal Analytics (UA) is the previous version of Google’s content tracking software. It was designed to help businesses better understand user behavior for search engine optimization (SEO) within their web properties. UA offers insights into user navigation paths, time spent on specific pages, and more detailed data related to various interactions, such as clicks and pageviews. UA also allows marketers to create and track custom segments, which can be used to better tailor marketing campaigns based on user behaviors. By better understanding the differences between GA4 and UA, businesses can leverage both technologies to gain more comprehensive insights into customer behaviors on their website.
Data Collection and Privacy
When comparing both options, it is important to consider that GA4 collects more SEO and engagement data than its UA predecessor. This includes user interactions across all channels and demographic and interest-based information. This extra data can help businesses target their outreach strategies and deliver personalized experiences. However, GA4 also collects user behavior data outside the company’s website and applications. Other privacy considerations include:
- No IP addresses: GA4 does not collect or store IP addresses in its data collection.
- Easier data deletion: GA4 allows users to delete or modify their data quickly and easily.
- Data retention options: GA4 gives businesses more control over how long data is stored, allowing users to determine their retention policies.
- Options to turn off location-specific data: GA4 allows businesses to turn off location-specific data collection and to restrict the types of data collected from visitors from certain countries. This is essential to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.
- Data streams for the new omnichannel landscape: GA4 allows businesses to capture data from various sources, including mobile apps, websites, and other digital touchpoints. This will enable companies to gain comprehensive insights into user behaviors across all channels.
Overall, understanding how Google Analytics works allows marketers to gain insights into customer behaviors and develop better outreach strategies while maintaining privacy and data control. GA4 offers more advanced features and more comprehensive data collection. With the new omnichannel landscape, it is crucial for businesses to better understand user behaviors across all channels with modern digital marketing analytics.
Data Reports: What To Measure in GA4
The differences between GA4 and UA also extend to the types of data reports each platform offers. GA4 provides more comprehensive and actionable insights, with reports that include user lifetime values, user cohorts, and more. It also offers new engagement metrics, such as scroll depth and video engagement, that can help marketers better understand user behaviors on their sites.
Other details include:
- Users vs. traffic: GA4 provides more detailed and actionable insights into individual users. This allows businesses to target their outreach strategies better and deliver personalized experiences.
- Behavior vs. engagement metrics: GA4 also provides new metrics such as scroll depth and video engagement to help marketers better understand user behaviors on their site. This can be more helpful than traditional behavior metrics because it strongly indicates user engagement.
- Monetization: GA4 also offers more advanced monetization metrics, such as purchase frequency and average order values. These can be used to track customer lifetime value and help businesses develop more effective marketing strategies.
- Session-based data vs. event-based: GA4 offers session-based data. This is defined as data collected during a single user session, which can provide more detailed insights into user behavior. Event-based data is also available, which looks at individual user actions throughout multiple visits.
- Event and conversion creation: GA4 allows businesses to create custom events and conversions. This is useful for tracking specific user behaviors, such as when a user adds an item to their cart or completes a purchase that began from a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad.
Universal Analytics collects data based on pageviews. So, for example, if someone were to visit www.example.com/contact-us/, GA would track that as a pageview. This is useful for understanding overall site traffic, but it’s not very helpful in understanding user behavior on a page.
GA4, in contrast, is built to handle event tracking by default rather than pageview tracking. GA4 events are user actions on a page, such as clicking a button or watching a video. By tracking events, businesses can gain more detailed insights into user behaviors and develop better outreach strategies. For example, a company could track how many users are watching an instructional video and which parts of the video they’re skipping. This would allow the business to improve the video, which could lead to more conversions.
Metrics in GA4 vs. Universal Analytics
GA4 and Universal Analytics also differ in terms of the metrics they offer. While both platforms provide standard metrics such as pageviews, bounces, and time on page, GA4 offers more advanced and actionable insights.
Looking at what to measure in GA4, three new metric categories provide more granular insights into user behaviors:
- Engaged session: An engaged session is a session in which the user spends at least 10 seconds on the site. This metric can measure how engaging a website or app is for users. For example, a positive engaged session rate could indicate the user experience is effective, while a low engaged session rate could suggest that users do not find the content helpful.
- Average engagement time per session: GA4’s average engagement time is the sum of how long each active user spends on the site. This is an excellent way to measure engagement and can be used to indicate how interesting or valuable the content is for users. It solves the historic challenge of calculating this metric in Universal Analytics, where time on page was calculated as the total time a user spent on the website and not on individual pages.
- Engagement rate: In GA4, the engagement rate is the percentage of your engaged sessions to your total number of sessions. This metric measures how effectively a website or app engages users over time. It also helps marketers understand if their efforts yield a stronger indication of user engagement or if it needs further improvement.
Q: Is GA4 replacing UA?
A: Google Analytics 4 promises to be an exciting new way of analyzing user activity on cloud-based apps and web properties. With its focus on data-driven insights and automation capabilities, many organizations ask if GA4 will replace Universal Analytics. For some, the idea of replacing a tried and trusted analytics platform with a new one might seem daunting. UA is still available for use at this time, and there are no plans for its removal. However, GA4 is the new default digital analytics measurement in Google Analytics and is Google’s long-term platform of choice.
Q: Can I use GA4 AND UA?
A: Yes, you can use GA4 and UA to measure user activity on your website or app. However, if you choose to use both platforms, your data will be tracked and stored separately. Evaluate what data you need for analysis and decide which platform is the most appropriate. Additionally, you can keep your historic UA data in GA4 if you migrate. This means that there will be no disruptions to your previous efforts while you work on transitioning to GA4.
Q: How do I set up GA4?
A: Learning how to set up GA4 for measuring website performance is relatively easy. All you need to do is create a Google Analytics account and link it to your site. To get started, you will have to generate an automatic tag in the GA4 admin of your account and copy this into the HTML of your page or create a default tag via setting up GTM. Next, you will have to define GA4 events corresponding to meaningful user actions to collect data on user interactions on your site. To ensure accuracy, you will have to verify the setup of GA4 with Google’s testing tools before rolling it out live. Doing so will help you improve user experiences, identify potential areas of improvement, and track visitors across devices and platforms.
Q: Why do I need GA4?
A: Google Analytics 4 provides an array of features and functionalities that can help you better understand user activities on your website or app. By leveraging the insights from GA4, you can make informed decisions about how to improve user experiences and what content to prioritize for further optimization. Ultimately, GA4 provides the tools needed to measure and manage user engagement on your website or app – making it an invaluable asset for digital marketers.
Contact Zero Gravity Marketing Today When Upgrading to Google Analytics 4
If you have further questions or want to explore the benefits of Google Analytics 4 in more detail, please contact our team at Zero Gravity Marketing today. We can provide you with a comprehensive approach to data analytics that includes expert guidance on setup, implementation, optimization, and a premier Google Analytics 4 tutorial. From setting up events to creating custom reports and dashboards, our team of experienced digital marketing professionals can help ensure that you make the most of GA4. Contact us today to get started on your GA4 journey. We look forward to helping you set up, migrate, and manage your GA4 account to transform how your team tracks and measures user engagement.