Upgrade to Google Analytics 4. The new Google Analytics 4 has been introduced as a more intelligent generation of analytics. It comes with a brand new interface and innovative ways of processing and displaying data. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) introduces many promising KPIs, but it also got rid of metrics that we relied on heavily for data analysis and reporting.
With millions of marketers depending on these insights to drive marketing decisions, it’s essential to understand how to benefit from the latest features without interfering with your current analytics setup.
We’ve been using GA4 for a few months now, and we are ready to give you a 360° tour of the significant changes and improvements.
Read on to discover all you need to know about the new Google Analytics and how it compares to the former Universal Analytics (UA). We’ll cover:
- How to switch to the new GA4 without impairing your current marketing setup?
- What are the major changes in this version?
- How to get access to the latest features and insights? (Jump straight to the upgrade guide)
If you’re installing Google Analytics for the very first time, please refer to our step by step guide to set up GA4 and UA.
Should you switch to GA4, and how?
As a Universal Analytics user, you have probably already invested some time in understanding the reports, the structure and maybe integrating it with your other systems.
When you install GA4, you’ll notice it’s an entirely new analytics tool. The user interface, data model, and tracking points have changed completely. You wouldn’t find the same reports you had in UA before. It’s a whole new learning curve to get used to this new tool.
Eventually, GA4 will replace the current UA, but it’s still months away from becoming the default platform. However, we strongly recommend you upgrade to GA4 and start using it to make the transition easier when the time comes.
So the real question is: how to switch to GA4?
Do not rush into replacing your existing Universal Analytics with GA4. Rather, make sure you are using both versions in parallel to transition to the new platform smoothly.
Here are our top suggestions to get started with GA4:
- GA4 does not carry historical data from UA. We recommend installing the update as soon as possible to begin collecting data and feed your new reports.
- Send data to both GA4 and UA properties and use the two side by side. If needed, integrate important systems in the new data model.
- Formerly significant metrics such as Bounce rate or Goals have been removed from GA4 to better reflect modern consumers’ behavior. Get acquainted with the new concepts and figure out which are most important for your business.
- GA4 makes fewer assumptions of what data you may need. Take some time to build custom reports and replicate some of the reports you rely on heavily in UA.
Once you realize you’re using GA4 more than UA, it might be time to make the switch!
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Major changes in Google Analytics 4
Let’s look at the important improvements and latest features Google brought to the new platform.
The most significant change in GA4 is the ability to track user actions from multiple devices and sources.
This is especially meaningful for businesses with both a website (or multiple websites) and an app.
Previously in UA, aggregating data from both websites and apps required the use of additional software such as Firebase.
With the new generation of Google Analytics, you can extract data from multiple sources into one common Google Analytics space and aggregate website and application data in the same reports natively.
You can now send multiple streams of data (Data streams) into a reporting space. These data streams include:
- Android apps
- iOS apps
This major change is the main reason why the data model had to be updated to reflect user behavior in apps.
Event-driven data model
Mobile apps produce different sets of data than websites: tracking time on site, pageviews, or bounce rate does not really make sense for an app.
To unify the data collected from different devices, Google had to rethink its data measurement model. All metrics are now consolidated under one single concept: “Events.”
Events are triggered as users interact with your website or application. There are 4 categories of events:
Automatically collected events
Some events are automatically collected in the native configuration for both web and apps. This includes basic events such as clicks, video plays, or purchases. You can access the complete list here.
- Enhanced measurement
These events are only collected for websites. They consist of more website-specific events such as scroll, page views, or outbound clicks. Enhanced measurement is an option you can activate from the admin section of GA4.
- Recommended events
This category of events is business-focused. They give different industries in-depth analytics based on their core business. So far, Google has created recommended events for Ecommerce, Education/Real estate, Travel, Games. If you’re in one of these industries, you might want to look deeper into Recommended Events.
- Custom events
Finally, if the user action you want to track is not listed in any of the previous categories, you have the option to create Custom events. These events can be whatever you want them to be but require some custom coding.
It can be a little disorienting the first time you access Google Analytics 4: report names have changed and are organized differently.
The new version is centered around the customer journey. Reports are aggregated according to the business lifecycle: Acquisition, Engagement, Monetisation, and Retention. Audiences and Remarketing reports are grouped under the “User” section.
With this new reporting arrangement, it is easier for marketers to focus on customer behavior and identify where their strategy requires improvement. You also can -and you should- create custom reports for important events specific to your business.
Insights with machine learning
You know we are fond of Artificial Intelligence at Mowgli, and GA4 made us happy with a set of machine learning capabilities that makes the platform more robust and future-proof. The main improvements include:
- User tracking does not rely on cookies anymore. With privacy regulations getting more strict, Google has taken a new approach to user tracking “designed to adapt to a future with or without cookies or identifiers”.
- Predictive metrics are introduced as part of the native platform. They will give you insights on purchase probability, churn probability, and revenue prediction. Learn more about the new predictive features.
How to upgrade to GA4
The process to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 is made very straightforward thanks to the Property Setup assistant.
To upgrade from Universal Analytics to GA4, go to the admin section of Google Analytics and click on G4 Setup Assistant.
On the page that loads, click on “Get Started” to open the setup wizard.
A pop-up will open describing the changes that will be made. Note that the upgrade will not affect your current Universal Analytics setup. Click on “Create property”.
A checklist of actions to take will show on your screen. Simply follow this list step by step or refer to our Step by step guide to set up Google Analytics 4 tags with Google Tag Manager.
Final words on Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 comes with the promise of making data collection and aggregation easier for marketers.
With more engagement metrics available (such as scrolling, reading) and more flexibility to adapt to future changes in consumer behavior, it’s essential you take the jump to the new platform as soon as possible. Start with familiarizing yourself with the new interface and reports before switching UA off completely.
Don’t hesitate to contact the Mowgli team if you need help setting up or understanding more of the Google Analytics 4 concepts.