Change can be tough, but it is inevitable. As user journeys online have changed rapidly over the past few years, so will the ability to analyze data to learn about the information that could benefit your business. The rollout of Google Analytics 4 (the fourth iteration of Google Analytics) promises to be the new guiding light for marketers today, but there are some important distinctions between it and its predecessor, Universal Analytics.
The Basics to Google Analytics 4
Google recommends making the switch from Universal Analytics to GA 4 as soon as possible in order to build up historical data in the new format. The official hard-stop of Universal Analytics is on July 1, 2023, at which time goals set up in the Universal version will no longer function and a user will no longer be able to see their historical data from years prior.
If you created your GA property before October 14, 2020, you’re likely using a Universal Analytics property and need to begin preparations for this switch. If you set up a property after October 14, 2020, you are likely already utilizing Google Analytics 4, but it’s still a safe idea to check.
Why Is This Change Happening?
As mentioned above, change is inevitable – especially in digital marketing and advertising. As Google, Director, Product Management, Russell Ketchum, mentions here, “In today’s measurement landscape, businesses need to navigate new challenges to understand the complex, multi-platform journeys of their customers — all while prioritizing user privacy.”
Google Analytics 4, “allows businesses to see unified user journeys across their websites and apps, use Google’s machine learning technology to surface and predict new insights, and most importantly, it’s built to keep up with a changing ecosystem.”
A users experience in no longer linear, singular, or even simple. GA 4 is launching to help marketers more easily attribute and understand the multi-touchpoints of their work so success becomes repeatable.
Comparing Metrics: Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics
There will be differences in the KPIs tracked between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics. Here’s a summary of those differences, but a link to the full breakdown.
Total users and new users will still be actively available. A new metric called Active Users will indicate the number of users that have been active within a 28-day timeframe.
Pageviews will now just be known as Views and is the total number of pages viewed in a session. Unique pageviews will be sunset.
A Session in UA is a period of time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc, but stipulations were put in place to end a session such as inactivity on the site, interacting with the site via another campaign, even the midnight cut off. In GA 4, Session Start begins upon engagement but does not abide by the previous UA stipulations.
Commonly also referred to as Goals, goals signified a key action taken, for example a form submission. Universal Analytics would only count one conversion per session, which will now no longer be the case in GA 4 as goals become Conversion Events.
Bounce Rate vs Engagement Rate
Bounce Rate will sunset with GA 4. Once a reasonable measure to track to measure site engagement, but has become less useful as websites, apps, etc have changed. Engagement Rate will be the new KPI of note, measuring sessions that last longer than 10 seconds, had a conversion event, or had at least 2 pageviews.
Total Events told the story of noteworthy events that took place on the website. For example, someone clicked a noteworthy CTA. Universal Analytics has these set up with a Category/Action/Label attached to each triggered event. In GA4, all actions are events and event counts don’t have to be so specifically labeled and represent broader actions and events.
How To Get Started With Your Migration?
If you partner with Reunion Marketing, you are already in the queue for the migration to Google Analytics 4 and your Client Success Specialist will be providing you with updates as we make progress.
Not a client, we’d be happy to assist you with the new setup and even tracking capabilities involved with Google Analytics 4. If you’re attending the Digital Dealer Tampa show, we’ll be helping any and all who come to our booth and want the assistance! If you’re reading this after the May 2022 show, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you started with this migration process.