GA4: The New Analytics On The Block Jennifer Christopher Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is Google’s latest web analytics platform version. It was announced in 2019 and has gradually rolled out to users. GA4 is a significant update to the previous Universal Analytics (UA) version, which was released and regularly used since 2012. GA4 brings many changes impacting how businesses collect and analyze data about their website visitors. One of the most significant changes was the introduction of new data-tracking methods, which came into effect in July 2022.GA4 vs Universal AnalyticsGA4 has improved upon several features from Universal Analytics, including:Data TrackingData CollectionData Modeling TechniquesData Organization and ReportingAll of these upgrades are designed to give businesses a greater understanding and deeper look into user behavior and how they’re interacting with their website. In addition, improvements to data collection help to be resilient against privacy measures, which often leave gaps in UA’s data.New to GA4 are reports and integrations. The User Acquisition Report provides a more detailed breakdown of how users discover a website, such as through organic search, paid search, or social media. The Engagement Report provides a more detailed analysis of user behavior on a website, such as time spent on the site and the number of pages viewed per session. These new reports are designed to provide businesses with a more comprehensive understanding of their website visitors and how they interact with their websites.Finally, GA4 includes a range of new integrations and features that make it easier for businesses to integrate their website data with other Google products, such as Google Ads and Google Tag Manager. This means businesses can use the full range of Google’s marketing and advertising tools to reach their target audience more effectively.What do these changes mean for your business? New reports & integrations must be built Re-evaluate measurement and what you want to trackCollect improved data and user behavior metricsBenefit from a more straightforward user interfaceThis may seem like a daunting task, but it’ll help in the long run. Here are a few things to know to make the most out of GA4.There are 3 ways of identifying visitors – Client ID, User ID, and Google Signals. By leveraging these identification methods, businesses can gain a more comprehensive understanding of their audience and make more informed marketing and user experience decisions.Client ID: GA4 assigns a unique client ID to each user who visits a website or app. This client ID is stored in a cookie in the user’s browser and is used to identify that user across multiple sessions and devices. By tracking client IDs, GA4 can provide businesses with a more comprehensive view of user behavior and help them better understand the customer journey.User ID: GA4 allows businesses to assign a unique user ID to users who log in to their website or app. This user ID can track user behavior across multiple devices and sessions, even if the user is not logged in. By tracking user IDs, businesses can gain insights into the behaviors and preferences of individual users and tailor their marketing and user experience accordingly.Google Signals: GA4 also uses Google Signals, a feature that allows businesses to track users across devices and channels using Google’s authenticated user data. This feature allows businesses to gain insights into cross-device behavior and target users with more relevant and personalized advertising.GA4 won’t create a new session for return visits to better captures the user’s complete journey. By tracking user behavior across multiple sessions and devices, GA4 provides businesses with a more comprehensive view of the customer journey. This allows businesses to understand better how users interact with their website or app over time and optimize the user experience accordingly.GA4 will show you where your customers interact: forms, email, phone calls, SMS, ads, live chat, social media, etc. Use this data to identify the top-performing channels and optimize based on that experience.Re-evaluate Attribution ModelsIt’s important to choose the right attribution model for your business needs, as different models can give you different insights into how users are interacting with your site or ads. Last click only – gives credit for a conversion to the last interaction of the user before converting, in other words, the last click or touchpoint gets all the credit for the conversion.First click only – gives credit for a conversion to the first interaction the user had with your site or ad, in other words, the first click gets all the credit for the conversion.Linear – gives equal credit to each interaction or touchpoint that led to the conversion. If a user had 5 interactions before converting, each one would receive 20% credit for the conversion.Position-based – gives more credit to the first and last interactions or touchpoints and less credit to the interactions in the middle. The first and last interactions may receive 40% credit each, while the middle would receive 20% credit. Time decay – gives credit to the interactions or touchpoints that occurred closer in time to the conversion. The most recent interaction would receive the most credit, and older interactions would receive less credit. Data-driven – uses machine learning algorithms to assign credit to touchpoints based on their actual impact on conversions, takes into account all the touchpoints in a user’s journey, and assigns credit based on their individual contribution to the conversion. Ads-preferred last click – similar to Last Click Only, but gives more credit to the last click that came from an ad, useful if you want to prioritize ad clicks over other types of clicks in your attribution model. Choosing the attribution model that fits your business needs will give an accurate look at your marketing efforts and give credit where credit is due.It may feel overwhelming to build your analytics account, but by diving into these new tools and metrics provided by GA4, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of your user. Not sure where to start? Take a look at our Pre-Planning Checklist to get your GA4 account set up right from the get-go.Once you’ve finished the pre-planning steps, you’re ready to start taking action within GA4. Our below recommendations serve as an outline for an action plan, with each recommendation serving a specific purpose in helping achieve the end result: a more successful marketing program built on real data from your website. Our RecommendationsFamiliarize yourself with the GA4 interface: take some time to explore and get comfortable with the new layout and navigation. Set up data streams: set up data streams, collections of user interactions with your website, for all properties you want to track. Set up events: clicks on buttons or links, form submissions, and video plays are examples of actions you may want to track as events that are important to your businessDefine your goals: making a purchase or filling out a form can be defined within GA4 in porter to track and analyze how well your site is performing in driving conversions. Use custom dimensions and metrics: this allows you to track additional information about your users or their interactions with your site. Dimensions and metrics set up can be customized to collect data that are specific to your business’s needs. Create custom reports: build custom reports tailored to your business needs, select the dimensions and metrics most important to your business, and customize the layout and format of the reports. Explore machine learning insights: insights about users and their behaviors can be uncovered in GA4, take advantage of these insights to improve your marketing and website performance. Test and iterate: Test your reports and make adjustments as needed to ensure that you’re collecting and analyzing the data that’s most important to your business. With its many new features and data-tracking methods, GA4 offers businesses a more comprehensive and accurate view of their website traffic, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and drive meaningful business outcomes. Although the changes that come with GA4 can be challenging to adapt to, the benefits of using this platform are clear. Therefore, businesses that have not yet made the switch to GA4 should consider doing so as soon as possible to stay ahead of the curve and gain a competitive advantage in their respective industries.For more content like this, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.