Google Analytics 4, A Rocky Start
Read time: 2 min 41 sec.
It’s no secret that some feedback for Google Analytics 4 is not pretty. Sure, the platform has supporters who point to its potential, but many in the search marketing community who were excited to get into GA4 became frustrated days after release.
Familiar metrics and dashboards that made so much sense in the previous version (called Universal Analytics) were stripped out for a data model with more flexibility and choice. Because the data model and the user interface are so different, even tech-savvy search marketers now struggle with Analytics.
On Twitter, they are less than kind. One user lamented that GA4 was so complicated that it made her want to cry. Another called it “horrible” and “awful.”
Change is hard
While it’s no secret that we are creatures of habit, those earlier adopters who did switch to GA4 in the beginning, found themselves swapping back to UA.
GA4 itself is very barebones. The benefit is that it is completely customizable. The No. 1 thing to understand about GA4 is it primarily focuses on hits or “events” to track interaction on the page instead of how long the page is open.
This new way to measure analytics is different from tracking in UA, with linear sessions, landing pages and behavior flow to conversion. GA4’s flexibility can give you a more accurate picture by focusing on the customer journey.
Google is still actively working on and improving GA4. It already addresses an important change in the marketplace: user privacy.
The regulatory challenges from GDPR and CCPA, plus technical restrictions from browsers and iPhones require marketers to maintain user privacy while being able to understand user activity. GA4 will introduce two features: Reporting Identity and Conversion Modeling.
Reporting Identity allows the user to opt into ads personalization. If they do this you will be able set your own unique identifier for users (called the User ID), which allows you as the marketer to see how frequently users log into your site from different devices. This is super helpful because focusing on sessions (like UA does) can be misleading.
We as marketers will now have complete data for the users who do opt in which will allow us to make better adjustments. It also allows the ability to easily analyze both site and mobile data which was not done well on UA.
The second feature is Conversion Modeling which allows us to fill gaps we know exist in our data. For example, the number of users visiting your site may be inaccurate due to a user deleting cookies. This allows us to adjust and predict the correct number of users.
Marketers, Clients & the Future
Change is difficult, but we urge marketers to begin the switch to GA4 and experiment with implementations using Tag Manager. For now, you can still use both UA and GA4 for free and we recommend you use both.
The truth is, GA4 is inevitable. Eventually, Google make everyone use it.
We can help you get started today.
You don’t have to go down this road alone. We’ve implemented GA4 and Tag Manager to measure website performance and can do the same for you. Contact us for advice on getting started.
About TruStar Marketing
TruStar Marketing, LLC. Fuses the art and science of marketing to help clients succeed…measurably. The digital marketing firm specializes in health care, insurance, and industrial + tech businesses, serving other industries as well. TruStar Marketing is renowned as a leader in analytics, SEO, and Search Engine Marketing, as well as Web Design and Development. Call 615-371-6112 for a brief introduction.