Finding out Google Analytics 4

Soon, Google Analytics 4, or GA4 for short, will replace the previous three versions of Google Analytics. Meanwhile, Anil Batra, Managing Partner of Optizent, and Shawn Hessinger, the Executive Editor for Small Biz Trends, discuss why that should be something small businesses should look forward to rather than fear.

In this 15-episode SBT, they both sit down together to discuss what GA4 is, ways in which it is a simpler data model, the main differences between it and previous versions, and other key points of interest.

For more information on Anil Batra and Optizent, please visit: https://www.optizent.com/

Also, the following primers can aid in the implementation of GA4:

What is GA4?

Shawn: What exactly is GA4 and what does it mean for small businesses?

Anil: GA4 is the free and latest version of Google Analytics. It’s called GA4, which is short for Google Analytics 4. Why do they call it 4? I think they went through three major iterations for this, which is why they call it GA4.

None of the previous versions were called GA1, GA2, or GA3, right? Moreover, many people in the industry refer to the previous and current version as Universal Analytics, GA3, although that is not the official term.

Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics and Earlier Versions

Shawn: What are people going to see that’s different from what they’re seeing now?

Anil: The goal of Google Analytics is to be a digital analytics tool. It mainly sits on your website and tracks the user behavior of a website.

So when users come to your site, what are they doing on the site? Where do they fall off the site? etc.

The digital analytics part of it is where it also measures the performance of your campaigns. So think about that whole digital ecosystem, some data is in Facebook ads, Google ads, etc. But once a user clicks on the ad, they come to your site and it can measure the effectiveness of those ads and can figure it out what users do when they are on the site.

Understanding and optimizing web analytics is critical for a small business

Anil tells us that the definition of web analytics is the measurement, collection, reporting, and analysis of the data for the purpose of improving customer experience, conversions, ad performance, and marketing performance.

Now most people who use Google Analytics just keep their reports: How many people came to my site? What did they do? etc.

The ultimate goal of any measurement, and we’ve been learning this for years, is to understand and optimize that and decide what actions to take. In reality, many people are just measuring, measuring, measuring.

What has happened in recent years is that users use different devices to get to your site. They can watch your ad while watching TV; they can go on the phone, open the phone — or go to your site in an app and then come back to their desktop and buy from there.

GA4 brings apps and the internet together

The interaction between app users and the web makes for a disjointed journey with the previous version of Google Analytics, Anil says. You can’t really understand what happens when the user journey is broken.

In recent years there has been a lot of fuss about the privacy policies of data, cookies, etc. So there is a lot of discussion about those where local laws exist – where each country has its own laws – even as states have their own laws —users are demanding more and more control over their data. These matters are discussed in GA4.

Also, app use has become very common. So when Goggle Analytics started, it started out as a web analytics tool, just for your website. When the app users started using apps, they came up with a product called App + Web, which let you track all your apps.

However, the journey was not connected. So you have App + Web, even if they said so, you could just put two sets of data.

To explain, when Shawn comes to your website, he still shows up as two: one via an app and one via the website. Shawn makes two visits to the site or app.

GA4 focused on the paradigm of events

Anil tells us that GA4 is more focused on this whole paradigm of events rather than page views, which happen on websites. It’s all about events taking place, and you can track everything as an event on a website.

For example, someone scrolling, someone downloading something, someone pinging the server, or someone completing a purchase on the web are all events that you can measure as events.

So they have combined both app and internet. Combining the same terms and the same method of tracking them, GA4 combines these two behaviors. Now you can track everything as one, giving you a simpler data model.

Plus, with the help of machine learning — using the data Google has — it can now merge everything together so it knows they’re the same users.

There are other major differences, including the fact that users have more control over the data. For example, they may request the deletion of data that their organization does not need to collect.

Taking this into consideration, my take on the main thing that has changed is that there is a much simpler business model as you get a lot more events to follow in GA4.

With the previous version of Google Analytics, you can only track three parameters for an event. On the other hand, Google Analytics 4 allows you to have up to 25 event parameters, which means you can enrich the data.

So if someone is scrolling, instead of just saying what page they’re scrolling from, how far they’ve scrolled – you know you can track those things – but now you can enrich that data with other attributes as well.

This event happened at this user’s local time, this event happened after the user did something, all those things, well, you can parse it and get really rich data. The same goes for user properties.

Thus, the event model that GA4 has consists of two components: one is a user and one is an event. That is it. A user comes to your site and performs certain things, which are events. When you pass all these parameters, you create an enriched dataset that you can analyze.

Coming back to the definition that we are talking about with GA4 and its events, it has measurement, collection and analysis for the purpose of optimization. Knowing that you have rich data, you could optimize it much more than in the previous versions.

Be sure to check out the rest of the video, where you’ll find helpful and actionable tips for small businesses migrating to Google Analytics 4 from Universal Analytics.

Here you will find information about what will stay the same, what will change and what to do when the time comes to change.

For example, Anil discusses some common metrics that companies use that will disappear in GA4. That includes the bounce rate. He says you can use a different stat in GA4 that makes more sense instead.

So don’t put off learning about GA4 by joining this informative video. Also, let us know in the comments about figuring out Google Analytics 4 and how you plan to include it in your website after review.

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This post Finding out Google Analytics 4 was original published at “https://smallbiztrends.com/2022/06/google-analytics-4.html”

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