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Following the official sunset of Universal Analytics (UA) on 1 July 2023, now is the time to get up to date with its replacement, Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This guide will take you through the key features of GA4 and outline the next steps you should take to ensure the best results for your business.

Google has introduced GA4 as a way to comply with stricter privacy policies around the world. GA4 allows more customisation over which data is collected where. Alongside this, Google is focusing on embracing the future of analytics. This means a more integrated means of tracking the user journey, including both apps and websites. GA4 also uses predictive analytics to suggest which users are most likely to convert in the future.

Although getting familiar with GA4 might seem like a daunting task, this new analytics platform has incredible potential, and when harnessed effectively can be a massive benefit to your business.

Key Features of GA4

Where GA4 really outshines UA is customisation, flexibility, and the insights it can give into your audience. These are the key features Google has highlighted in GA4:

  • GA4 measures events instead of sessions. The data that GA4 collects is somewhat different from that collected by UA. This is important to remember if you are comparing UA data to GA4 data.
  • You can collect data from both your app and your website. This will help you understand the customer journey better, as one user’s journey can be recorded across platforms. GA4 will also continue tracking if a user’s device goes offline while they are browsing your app or website.
  • Allows for stricter privacy controls. Unlike UA, GA4 does not store IP addresses. GA4 also offers the user more control over how data such as location and device is collected. This collection can be disabled by region.
  • GA4 has predictive capabilities. GA4 uses machine learning to predict the future behaviour of your users. Predictive metrics can tell you the probability of a recent user converting, which in turn can help inform your reengagement campaigns.
  • Date can be integrated with other products. The data from GA4 can be imported into other platforms and vice versa. This allows you to draw additional insights and further optimise your site strategy.

business looking at analytics on laptop screen

Potential risks to your business

Having access to accurate data is essential when making decisions as a business owner. Understanding how users interact with your site can inform your marketing strategy and highlight areas for potential growth. Both are vitally important if you want to grow your business and stay competitive.

Incorrect tracking: If there is a problem with your GA4 set up, you might be missing out on important data, or the data you are collecting may not be accurate. It’s important to thoroughly test your GA4 setup and compare the data you are getting to other metrics, such as ecommerce sales or leads. In terms of sessions and users, you should expect some discrepancy between UA and GA4, but large differences might indicate a problem with your tracking. If the task of testing your tracking yourself seems a little daunting, you can reach out to a digital marketing service for assistance.

Gaps in data: If you haven’t set up GA4 prior to UA’s sunset on 1 July, you will have a gap in your data. While it isn’t possible to retroactively fill the gap in your data, you can act quickly to minimise it. Get GA4 set up for your business as soon as possible.

Practice makes perfect: The sooner you get set up in GA4, the sooner you can get used to how it works. From there, you can start finding actionable insights into how your business is running and apply these to your strategy to move your business forward.

What’s next?

Now that Universal Analytics has been phased out, the next important date to remember is 1 July 2024. This is when you will no longer have access to the data stored in Universal Analytics. If you want to keep this data, make sure you export it before 1 July 2024.

Need help navigating, setting up, or testing GA4? Find out how our team can help by getting in touch with us.

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Katie Spreadborough

Katie Spreadborough

Katie Spreadborough has a background in SEO and content writing. Always eager to learn something new, she is now delving into the world of PPC, alongside other marketing channels to widen her skills in the marketing mix.

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