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  • Writer's pictureLaura Swingwood

Is your business ready for the major Google Analytics GA4 update?

Here’s how to get ahead and why.

If your business is using Google Analytics to review your marketing and website performance, you’ll already appreciate what a powerful tool it is. And if you’re not, it’s definitely worth a look!

Millions of businesses across the world are using Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) to collect, measure and analyse web data around audiences, behaviour and conversions to inform their future decisions. In short, it helps you to identify what’s working well, and what isn’t.

But there’s a new version on the horizon.

What’s it all about and why does it matter?

Known as Google Analytics 4 (GA4), it is the first major update since 2013 and is designed to give superior insight into the whole user journey across channels, from the first visit to the conversion.

Did your customer find you from an ad, perhaps go on to install your app, and then make a purchase? Google says, “The new Analytics gives you customer-centric measurement, instead of measurement fragmented by device or by platform”.

By understanding the story behind your data, you’ll learn more about your potential customers, opportunities, uncover any conversion challenges and improve ROI, helping to make every penny count.

The Beta version of GA4 has a very different interface, with the shift towards life-cycle stages including engagement and retention. It focuses on counting events (automatic and customised) which can be tracked in the UI, without the need to edit website code - music to the ears of many marketers!

As well as responding to fundamental changes in the customer journey, it also adapts to growing user privacy requirements and is designed to provide insights without cookies or identifiers. With machine learning at its core, it uses AI predictive data modelling to fill in the gaps where traditional analytics may be blocked by cookies.

So what does this mean for your Google Analytics?

While there is still a lot to be learned, there is no expectation to switch over to the new reporting and KPIs at present – indeed the data won’t perfectly align and much is still in development, (particularly around revenue reporting). However it is worth setting up GA4 alongside Universal Analytics if you haven’t already so that your business can start collecting data in the new format right away. You can even set up and start tracking events (user actions). This means that when GA4 does become the principal version in a year or two’s time, your business will already have a valuable data stream history.

Both UA and GA4 can be run simultaneously without double counting as they are essentially different windows looking at the same data. We’d recommend having both in place – as our clients know – we love a bit of data and your business will be ready to take advantage of the latest functionality!

It’s also worth taking some time to get familiar with the new look interface. You can do this in the new GA4 demo account

When setting up new Google Analytics, GA4 is already the default but you can still choose to create a UA version as this remains the supported industry standard for the time being. Just look out for the toggle when you begin the set up.

If you need help understanding how your website is performing and what can be done to improve it, get in touch


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