The latest version of Google Analytics (GA) platform – Google Analytics 4 (GA4), is now available. GA4 builds on the foundation of the App + Web property which Google introduced in beta last year. GA4 includes new AI-powered predictive insights, cross-device engagement data and deeper integration with Google Ads.
1. Cross device cross platform tracking
The new GA4 consolidates web and mobile app traffic usage data into one property in one interface. In the previous version, if we need to view traffic in app, we need to leverage Google Analytics for Firebase to access the data. Now, all engagement data across your website and app are centralized in one single hub.
2. Accurate reporting on customer journey across platforms
The new GA4 has less reliance on cookie-based tracking; instead, it utilizes an event-based behaviour tracking. It can track the entire customer life cycle, providing a deeper drill down into particular aspects of the customer journey.
New reporting structure organized by the user lifecycle
Total unique users across platforms are available in reporting view. It means that marketers can identify the same user navigating from app to website to provide an accurate view of how each unique user is interacting with your brand. Also, GA4 will report on actions from YouTube engaged views that occur in-app as well as on the web.
Marketers can now see what channels are driving new customers in the user acquisition report. Then you can also use the engagement and retention reports to understand the actions these customers take, and whether they are retained to your brand after converting.
YouTube engaged-view conversions in Analytics reports
3. Audiences integration across web and app with Google Ads
Marketers can build and maintain audiences from their visitors across the web and their app. Let’s say, a user entered into your retargeting audience list after taking a certain action on your web, when he/she then completed a purchase within your app, your audience list will be automatically updated to remove the user so that they’re not retargeted with ads. This helps avoid wastage and increase the accuracy of targeting in your ad campaigns.
4. AI-powered insights and predictions
In addition to the existing AI-powered insights in Analytics, the new insights and predictions allow marketers to stay ahead of data trends such as surging demand for their products by receiving automatic alerts.
These AI capabilities can also help marketers predict future actions your customers may take, such as churn probability and the potential revenue a business could earn from a specific segment of customers. This is expected to help marketers focus on high-value audiences to increase marketing ROI.
5. Automatic tracking on certain types of events
In the previous version of Google Analytics, event tracking requires additional set-up in Google Tag Manager, and the data might not be available until the following day.
With enhanced codeless features in GA4, marketers can now track and measure on-site and in-app actions. Automatic tracking on certain event types without additional coding – scrolling tracking, video tracking, site search, exit tracking).
6. New set of metrics focusing on customer engagement
GA4 view provides a new set of key metrics in addition to Pageviews, Sessions, Users as in the previous version. GA4 provides engagement metrics e.g. Engaged Sessions, Engagement Rate, Engaged Sessions per User, Engagement Time which are more accurate measurements of user engagement with your website and app. Also, the metric Bounce Rate has been taken out in GA4 view.
Upgrading to GA4
For existing site owners using the old GA, you can opt to upgrade to GA4. Whereas if you are setting up a new property, Google Analytics 4 is the default option. However, currently, GA4 is not fully integrated with other important Google products e.g. Search Console yet. Continuous product enhancement is in progress.
1. Adoption is crucial
While Google Analytics 3 will continue to remain available for a while, site owners are recommended to start setting up new GA4 property types and run GA3 and GA4 in parallel, with the same event setup in both properties. This is to allow for a smooth transition to GA4 while taking the opportunity to gather data for machine-learning and better insights in GA4.
2. Getting used to event-based tracking
With third party cookies being phased out gradually, GA4 is an event-driven model. Event-based tracking might be new to some marketers and webmasters. It is necessary to take time to learn and get used to it.
There are different online resources to guide you through tracking with GA4:
- Google Analytics 4 properties tag and instrumentation guide (by Google)
- Automatically collected events (by Google)
- Enhanced measurement (by Google)
- Event tracking (by Google)
- Recommended events for all properties (by Google)
- Event-scoped custom dimensions and metrics reporting (by Google)
3. Customer journey is more important than ever before
With the new engagement metrics taking over GA4, it is time to rethink how we leverage the GA4 reports and data to enhance user experience across our web and app.
Analytics should focus on both driving quality traffic to land on your webpages, as well as creating a seamless customer journey for users across app and web, with consistent messaging that drives conversions and retention.
This also aligns with Google’s recent introduction of user experience as an important ranking factor. With the new event tracking in GA4, we will have better clues on what actions are taken by a user on a webpage. This helps us understand and create a more user-friendly page experience.
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