By now, you've no doubt heard that Google is upgrading Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in July of 2023. But what does this mean for tracking your website visitors? 
 
Google are switching things round to enable marketers to get a better insight into their visitor’s journey. Using GA4, you should be able to answer questions such as: 
 
Which marketing method is bringing in the most customers? 
Which marketing methods lead to most conversions? 
How many points of interaction does a customer experience before they buy? 
 
From next year on 1st July '23, Google's UA will no longer track and record your websites visitor data. 
 
Don't panic! 
 
We will explain how to maximise the upgrade to GA4. 
 
Google have announced that GA4 will be the only option so it's time to move over as soon as you can. 
 
But what are the new features being added to make it different from our current, well-loved Google Analytics? And why are marketers so excited to make the switch? 

GA4 - New Features 

The first thing you'll notice when visiting GA4 is the sleek interface, a big upgrade from UA as it makes it a lot easier to use and navigate. Google Analytics has been updated with new metrics to further help you keep track of your traffic since it was first created in 2005. GA4 will (of course) be free to use and come with new advantages, however, as expected, it is missing some features from Google Analytics too. 
 
One of the main upgrades is Google has applied its advanced machine learning in GA4 which means it will detect trends in your data and send you an alert about it which is extremely useful to improve the user experience on your site. Google’s machine learning technology knows how to predict new insights and keep up with the changing ecosystem. 
 
GA4 is now able to predict user behaviour and actions which makes it easier to accurately plan ahead. An example of this is Google have added a feature to allow you to create audiences and run analyses of why a specific group of customers are more likely to convert than others, which is useful! 
 
If you use Youtube to advertise, then this part is for you, there is a brand new feature called "addresses longtime advertiser requests" which enables you to track conversions from Youtube. For example, say a customer made a purchase on your app or website, the new GA4 allows marketers to have a full picture on your customer's journey. Showing that they first saw the ad on Youtube that then lead them to your website or download your app (if you have one). 
 
A noticeable difference with the new GA4 is how the reports are organised, aiming to give you an accurate view of how potential customers are engaging with your business across devices and channels. You will now be able to enable Google signals to deduplicate users across devices, meaning your targets and reports will improve. 
 
GA4 includes options to assist you with complying with data regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Google obviously prioritises data privacy so they have taken a new approach to the data controls, offering three options to the users: 
 
GA4 users control how they can collect, retain and share their data. 
GA4 users have the option to choose if they want their data to be collected for ads personalisation. 
GA4 allows users to delete any Analytics data they wish by simply submitting a request to Google. 
 
Google have stated you will be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for some time after 1st July but only new data will flow into GA4. Moving over to GA4 as soon as you can allows a better chance for GA4 to learn about your website ecosystem, and work to its full capability come July 2023. 
 
In app purchases: GA4 lets you track transactions made within your android or IOS apps through the "in app purchases" tab.  
 
GA4 supports website and mobile app analytics whereas UA would need to look at mobile and web data separately, so this new feature is incredible, promising to give us all a better understanding of our visitor's journey across all devices. Updating the mobile features on GA4 means you can deliver the best user experience to the 54.4% (excluding tablets)* of all traffic that is coming from a mobile device. *https://www.statista.com/statistics/277125/share-of-website-traffic-coming-from-mobile-devices/ 
 
UA has a session-based model so it collects data based on pageviews and other things that take place during a session. However, GA4 has an event-based data collection model so now, every hit is collected and recorded as an event meaning you are no longer restricted to these predefined options.  
Have a look at the table below: 
 
GA4 flexibility 
GA4 will still use cookies to identify different users, however it will also use Google signals. Instead of tracking sessions and hits, while a visitor is on your website or app, it will record all of this as an event.  
 
Don’t worry, you will still be able to see session data in GA4 but it isn’t the main point of tracking hits (events). As long as cookies are being stored, then in July 2023, you will be able to see a difference between user acquisition and session acquisition meaning you can explore more in depth which channel is bringing in the most “new users” and more importantly conversions.  
 
So, in the current UA, there are only 3 parameters that you could send with each event: 
 
Category 
Label 
Action 
 
As a lot of people agreed this was too restrictive, Google has updated so you can send 25 parameters with every event in GA4! Google recommends that even though UA will continue to be available, it is a good idea for site owners to set up both and run them in parallel as a lot of the new technology and feature developments will focus on the new, GA4.  
 
Google will track some events automatically like: 
 
The first_visit is used to calculate the "new users" metric. 
The page_view tells you the page a user is viewing 
The session_start tells you when the session started, and a new session is triggered when there is inactivity for 30 minutes. 
The user_engagement is used to report when a user has spent at least 10 seconds browsing your website. 
 
The 4 events above are automatic so cannot be switched off, these were critical components that were needed in UA so you will find them all in the new GA4 too.  
 
Even though there are a lot of fantastic new features, Google has also decided to discontinue other features. So, a lot of metrics that are used to measure levels of user engagement are no longer available like the bounce rate. GA4 have introduced 3 new engagement metrics in their place: 
 
Engaged session is the number of sessions that lasted longer than 10 seconds, had a conversion event or had 2 or more screen or page views. 
Average engagement time per session which we understand as the total time the user is scrolling, clicking etc. on the page. Google defines an engaged session as a session that spent 10 seconds or more on the site/app or viewed 2 or more screens/pages or had a conversion event. 
Engagement rate is following on from the point above. It calculates the number of engaged sessions you had on your site. If there were 1000 total sessions today and 110 of them counted as engaged sessions then your engagement rate would work out to be 11%. 
 
Do you need some help making the change from UA to GA4?  
 
Follow these steps: 
 
1. Basic Setup: You will need to create a new GA4 account which allows you to run both accounts together and collect data for the first 1 - 2 months. 
2. GA4 events: Depending on what you after, it is a good idea to add up to five events to track on-site user actions like: video views, items added to shopping cart. 
3. GA4 goals: To keep track of your goals and achievements, you can create GA4 events for tracking key conversion goals and objectives. 
4. Audience configuration: you are able to add up to five audience types such as organic traffic, new or returning visitors to keep close track of where your traffic is coming from and how you can increase it. 
5. Confirmation: After the first month, it is a good idea to run and confirm GA4 is collecting data as expected. 
 
If you're already an it'seeze customer we'll take care of this transition to G4 on your behalf
 
We love to offer our customers support wherever they need it, if you'd like to find out more about our local and national support then click here
 
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