Google Analytics 4 – Why You Should be Making the Jump Right Now

Google Analytics 4 is Heading to a Screen Near You

And no, it’s not the latest Marvel Universe blockbuster. But for businesses seeking data-driven insights to act upon, as well as head-turning CX, it is kind of a superhero.

So in this Hookson blog we’ll take a look at what’s new in this groundbreaking iteration of Google’s data-analysing service. Then we’ll show you how your business can harness its powerful new focus: one built for event-based cross-platform analysis. Translation: one built to deliver mega-useful data based on how your customers are actually using the internet.

Browsing History

A version of the original Google Analytics (GA) was introduced way back in 2005 and the analysing service has been powering SEO-focused marketing activities since then.

This latest version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), emerged in late 2020. Right now it’s operating alongside both of Google’s current flagship measurement properties: Universal Analytics and 360. But the big news for digital marketers is that GA4 will be replacing both these products next year.

Get Ready for GA-Day

GA4 becomes top dog on July 1st 2023. But the time to make the jump is right now. Read on to discover why the sooner businesses migrate their data to GA4 the better. Then use Hookson’s step-guide to help make it all happen smoothly.

A Focus on Platform, Prediction and Privacy

But first up: what is Google up to? What’s the reason for its GA4 rollout?

Well, the current analytics system is 17 years old. So it would be legal to drink in a bar next year. And across the technology landscape that makes it a veteran. So GA4 is bringing measurement standards right up to speed. It’s the data and analytics solution created for:

• Multiple platforms – user journeys are happening across sites and apps. GA4 keeps pace wherever and whenever your customers are engaging with your brand

• Predictive insights – machine learning delivers actionable data and analysis around user behaviour. That could open up new marketing opportunities and potential new audiences

• Privacy protection – as users become ever-more conscious of online privacy – and legislation responds – GA4 enables both legal compliance and valuable data collection

Let’s take a bit of a deeper dive into the business benefits GA4 will bring.

Joined up Journeys

GA4 tracks customer interactions across multiple channels

Smart Cookie

Predictive modelling sweeps away cookies and arms your business for privacy- conscious users

Google Analytics 4: Six Cool Things Your Business Can Look Forward to

1. Accurate, Joined-up Journey Data Across Both Websites and Apps

Insight is everything, and GA4’s emphasis on unique user interactions – as opposed to separate sessions – enables accurate tracking of user journeys.

An Unparalleled View

Google designed UA for a time when searches happened on the desktop. GA4, on the other hand, integrates across both websites and apps. Now, same-user app and web journeys join up. That will provide info that feeds into razor-sharp marketing decisions, more sales and better ROI.

In summary, wherever user journeys are occurring, GA4 will stitch them together for an unparalleled, unified view. The result? A far more accurate and actionable picture of multi-channel visitor journeys and behaviours.

2. Flexible, Event-Based Measurement Across Every Touchpoint

As we’ve just covered, where UA is a tool designed for the desktop web, GA4 expands analytical reach. The innovation will record events across apps, mobile sites, desktops and anywhere else your customers are browsing. This is a move to a user-centric, flexible measurement model that puts site owners in greater charge of event set-ups.

Unique Data. Enhanced Targeting

Example events? ‘Add to cart’. ‘Begin checkout’. ‘Complete shipping info’ and so on. That unique data of course feeds into the granular-level reports GA4 generates. Furthermore, insights can be integrated into other Google properties – Google Ads for example – for super-targeted campaigns.

Custom tagging means events not covered by GA4’s categories of Automatically Tracked Events; Enhanced Measurement; and Recommended Events can be assigned via Custom Events that GA4 users define and name themselves.

Wherever user journeys are occurring, GA4 will stitch them together for an accurate, actionable picture of multi-channel visitor journeys and behaviours.

3. Less of a Taste for Cookies

As GA4 becomes the standard data measurement solution, the current emphasis on cookie collection, and the need to store IP addresses, will crumble.

Why is Google moving us from cookies? It’s not for the good of our teeth or waistlines – it’s actually because cookie collection has become an increasingly obsolete way of gathering data (cookies after all have been around since 1994 so it’s no surprise that they’re looking a bit stale now).

Sharper Insight

This shift from cookies is due in part to privacy-conscious users opting out of granting cookie consent. As a consequence, these visitors are leaving gaps in the data that Universal Analytics is currently reporting.

But filling in these holes will be GA4’s march to a predictive future – one led by machine learning and statistical modelling. And aside from delivering sharper insight, this makes it easier for businesses to align with privacy regulation like GDPR, helping ensure data collection and use stays legal.

4. Predictive Analytics

You knew we were going to cover this, didn’t you? GA4’s use of cookie-crunching machine learning and predictive analytics play into potential future actions that Google defines as:

Purchase probability: The probability that a user active in the previous 28 days will log a conversion event in the next seven days

Churn probability: The probability that a user active on your site or app or site within the last seven days will not be active within the next seven days

Revenue prediction: Revenue expected from all purchase conversions within the next 28 days from a user active in the last 28 days

These metrics will help business owners target ad content accordingly, resulting in greater ROI and increased sales.

McDonald’s: They’re Lovin’ It

This was exactly how it played out for McDonald’s, whose marketing team decided to go the extra mile for its millions of app-using customer in Hong Kong.

The pandemic had brought foot traffic to a virtual stop, whilst online orders enjoyed a major boost. So the opportunity was there to drive more and more orders from this channel, and deliver an outstanding experience.

How? Via campaigns led by customer insights.

Enter GA4, whose real-time data, collected from the McDonald’s app, fed into Google’s predictive audiences tool. That technology analysed the gathered data to suggest an audience likely to purchase in the next seven days.

The takeaway? GA4 significantly shortened the distance from analysis to implementation, revealing to McDonald’s the paths to take and, importantly, those to avoid.

5. A New Metric That Sees Old Bounce Rates Dropping

Across GA4, engagement rate will replace bounce rate: the old metric that flagged up user inactivity on a page (not clicking through from the home page, for example). Instead, engagement rate will record a more valuable user journey by tracking sessions where users initiate a conversion event; engage actively on your app or site for more than 10 seconds, say; or have two or more page/screen views.

6. Free Access to Big Query

Previously only available to GA360 users, GA4 will blow open the doors of Big Query – Google’s mega-depository for data management and analysis. From there, digital marketers can visualise entire user journeys and optimise channels.

Why and How You Should Turn Google Analytics 4 on Today

We get it. Signing up for GA4 sounds like one big headache.

But the truth is, with Google replacing the current UA properties – somewhat poetically, they call it sunsetting – this is something you’ll have to do sooner or later.

Here’s why sooner is better:

Secure More Historical Data – when UA sunsets, your historical data won’t stick around forever. But GA4 begins collecting data from day one of your setup. So by running GA4 and UA concurrently, and having both properties track data, you’ll be preserving that UA data you’d otherwise lose.

Get Past the Awkward Stage – whilst Google has made transitioning as easy as possible, there’s no getting away from the fact that GA4 is a significant hop from its predecessors. So it’ll take a little time to get to know one another. Start early and you and your teams will be better prepared to face down any newbie challenges.

Grab Competitive Advantage – like we said, GA4 is about to become Google’s standard. So why not benefit from its functionality before your competitors?

That’s the why nutshelled. So here’s the how

As cookies crumble, and GA4 becomes the standard data measurement solution, a predictive future will be led by machine learning and statistical modelling.

Google Analytics 4 – Your Quick, Step-by-Step Guide to Data Migration

Ready to take the leap? Although Google’s GA4 Set-Up Assistant is a help, it’s a great idea to migrate your data via a series of logical steps.

Completed your sign-up? Let’s go.

Step 1: Create a GA4 Property for Tracking Standard Events and Pageviews

Our recommended standard events include:

  • File downloads
  • Outbound links
  • Page views
  • Scrolls
  • Video engagement

But you should include all standard event measurements that apply to your business.

Step 2: Add KPI-Related Events

GA4 makes it easy to measure your KPIs. These metrics will be unique to your own business goals of course, but let’s say a KPI is ‘increase revenue’. Your KPI-related events in GA4 might present as:

  • Number of purchases
  • Average order value
  • Revenue
  • Downloads
  • Enquiries
  • Sign-ups

Again, your organisation’s needs will be unique and you can of course add events as new KPIs emerge across your goals.

Step 3: Add E-commerce Events

Selling online? You’ll want to capture related data across GA4. Events to implement here might include:

  • Add to wishlist
  • Add to cart
  • Select promotion

Step 4: Add Any Custom Tracking

GA4 enables the creation of custom events. So if you have an event – say a click on a call-to-action button – that doesn’t sit well within the GA4’s pre-defined categories, you can name this event and track its data.

Data-Driven Decisions

Migrating your data well in advance of the July 1st transition date means your UA and GA4 setups will operate concurrently. And, crucially, all that UA data will be feeding into GA4. From there, you can benefit from Google’s reports feature, which in turn can lead to Google Ads strengthened by data-driven decision-making across major areas like audience, ad placement and budget.

Finally, keep collecting data from GA4 for a year minimum prior to swapping out reporting from UA to GA4.


Need Expert Help to Migrate Your Data to GA4?

No problem. Here at Hookson we have the know-how to handle both the technical aspects of Google Analytics 4 migration and the strategic side. And that could bring your business more visitors, stronger leads and increased sales. We’re already benefitting from GA4 and we can make sure your business does too.