Google Analytics 4 is a big change from Universal Analytics (UA), aka Google Analytics 3. And UA will stop functioning on July 1, 2023.
So time is ticking to make the move from UA to GA4.
But what’s so great about GA4 anyways? And what’s still there—but under a new name or work flow?
Janet Driscoll shares her GA4 insights in this excerpt from her presentation at 2022’s B2B Forum, “Non-Techy Marketer’s Guide to GA4.”
It was one of over 50 sessions designed to help B2B marketers like you stay ahead in the constantly changing world of B2B marketing.
Watch Janet’s video or read the transcript below.
Don’t miss out on the insights, inspiration, and interactions at this year’s B2B Forum, October 11-13 in Boston. Individual and group tickets are available now!
We’re gonna talk about what is changing in Google Analytics 4.
Not only the interface… The user interface and the design are completely different.
So, you can see even just from the top image to the bottom image. The top one is the property settings in Universal Analytics. The bottom one is GA4.
How GA4 tracks information is completely different than how we do it in universal analytics.
As an example, what we see right now in universal analytics. If someone is surfing your site at 11:59 PM and let’s say for example, your universal analytics is set to Eastern time zone. If you are in the Eastern time zone and someone is surfing your site at 11:59 PM and the clock turns over to 12:00 AM the next day, guess what? That person has another session. Even though they really never left your site, Google times it out and treats it as another session.
That’s gonna change in GA4 . It will no longer end up being two sessions. It’ll be one.
So how these two platforms—GA4 versus Universal Analytics—track the data is fundamentally different.
In other words, if you’re trying to compare data from UA to GA4, literally it’s like apples to oranges. It truly is. You cannot really compare the two.
Everything is rolled up to the property level now, instead of reporting view level. That’s a real adjustment because there are things we do at the reporting view level now that are gonna get moved to the property level.
And that may sound like, “eh, it’s a technicality, no big deal.” But it really is sort of a challenge as we talk about migrating to the new platform.
Certain features have also been removed and/or are being updated. As an example, “goals”—which we had in Universal Analytics in reporting views—are now called “conversions.” I like that name, that’s great. But just to avoid confusion, some nomenclature has changed and you gotta know where things are.
But also, how you do these things is a little bit different. So, as I mentioned with goals now being called conversions. In addition to that, all goals have to be event based.
If you’ve ever set up a goal in your reporting views and Universal Analytics, you’ll remember that you have a couple of options. And one of those is “destination goals.” If I fill out a form and hit submit and I get to the “thank you page,” the thank you page would be my destination, and I would say if people get to this page, then I know they completed the form. I know they did the goal. But those are going away.
So in GA4, you’ve gotta change those goals to become what we call “event based goals.” Events being things like, “I know they submitted a button or they had submitted a form cause they clicked this button,” or “this form submission processed properly.” Those types of things are event goals. And so you’re going to have to make some changes as you migrate over to GA4.
I wanna share with you what some of the benefits are of GA4. What is great about it? Because unfortunately, when I talk about this, I have to talk about all these hard things. So why should we even bother? What’s so great about it?
There are great things [now], and there are great things to come. What are they? Why are we making this migration?
Some of the benefits, first of all: if you have apps, previously in Universal Analytics, your app tracking and your website tracking had to be separate. No longer. It is all together, if you want it to be together. That’s really a very helpful thing.
Another thing we really rely on as marketers is cross-platform tracking. These days, everyone’s using their phone, they’re using their desktop, they’re going back and forth between devices. It makes it very difficult to track user behavior and as marketers really understand their customer journey.
And so reducing cross-platform tracking issues is huge. It’s a real help.
There’s easier conversion tracking setup. Super simple compared to what it used to be in Universal Analytics.
There’s a free connection to BigQuery, which is really helpful for, you know, processing data and so forth.
And then advanced reporting and awesome report visualization. Just really the absolute best things about this for us as marketers—but we won’t see the value of it today, it’s gonna take a little while—[is that GA4 will] have predictive analytics and lifetime value. This makes me giddy.
It’s gonna take a little while to get there though, but eventually it’s gonna be really, really helpful for all of us.
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