Google Analytics 4 update: everything you need to know

Google Analytics 4 update: everything you need to know

Understanding traffic and user behavior on your website is an important aspect for every business. If you are looking to increase conversion - like every other business out there - you need more leads (which means more revenue). Logically, the first step is to find a tool that makes it easier to understand your website's performance.

So, which reporting mechanism can help boost your SEO strategy in 2022?

Well, Google Analytics 4 is an excellent choice. This tool makes reporting easier and serves your team better. In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at the Google Analytics 4 update.

Getting to know Google Analytics 4

Google announced the launch of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) on October 14, 2020. Google Analytics has become the default tool for creating new properties and many businesses are now wondering how the update will affect their position. While Universal Analytics is not going anywhere, prioritizing the upgrade to GA4 isn’t a bad idea. It will offer four new key features to users:

  • Deeper Google Ads integration
  • Smarter insights that leverage machine learning to detect trends
  • Customer-centric data measurement
  • More granular control over data

What's new

Quite a lot has changed with GA4. For starters, it utilizes an entirely different data collection and data structure logic. You get a powerful reporting tool that is built around events and users - which is different from sessions that were used in the previous Universal Analytics tool.

GA4 features an event-based model that ensures every user interaction gets processed as a standalone event. It is a significant change from the session-based model that groups interactions according to specific time frames.

Focusing more on events offers numerous benefits to marketers. It is easier to perform cross-platform analysis when you can monitor individual user interactions. The pathing analysis is also quicker, thanks to a more enhanced capacity.

Finally, predicting user behavior is now easier thanks to the new GA4 event-based model. Understanding past user behavior gives you the insight to better predict future users. Therefore, you can make highly informed decisions.

What can you do with GA4?

With all the buzz about the new GA4 update, it's only natural to start wondering what you can do with it. Well, marketers and business owners can use GA4 to accomplish three major things:

Accurately measure engagement

Bounce rates are rather vague when you think about it. Universal Analytics used bounce rate to showcase when users visit your page and leave without taking any action. However, these metrics cannot clearly define user behavior. For starters, website interactions are pretty complex to summarize under something as simple as bounce rates.

With GA4, you get to replace bounce rates with something more specific: “engaged sessions.” These new metrics define an engaged session as a user spending more than 10 seconds on your website, triggering at least one conversion, or viewing at least two pages.

A graphic with the three engaged session qualifications: 1. Over ten seconds spent on the site, 2. At least one conversation initiated, 3. At least two web pages viewed

With Universal Analytics, the time between user log in and log out on your site constituted a session duration. However, today's users open multiple tabs and apps simultaneously. Google realized this was not an accurate metric because users can minimize the window running your website.

With GA4, the new metric only counts time when your website is running in the foreground. Therefore, you get a much smarter insight. You can effectively gauge engagement time, providing you with more valuable information on your visitors.

A graphic displaying a computer screen with two open windows. The Steel Croissant website is in the foreground.

Predict the future

Graphic depicting two open Mac Windows. The window in the background shows "2021 Data" and the window in the foreground shows "2022 Plan"

We know that figuring out lottery numbers for next week is impossible, but predicting the future of your marketing campaigns isn't with GA4. The introduction of machine learning to the platform allows you to analyze past and current user behavior. The available data lets you predict what to expect from the future. Below are the top three metrics GA4 offers that can help predict the future:

  • Purchase probability – it showcases the probability that an active user in the last 28 days will complete a specific conversation event in the next 7 days. The vacation rental industry uses these metrics to know which users are likely to book their property.
  • Churn Probability – this helps you identify which users are window shoppers. You get to know which website users are not engaged. Essentially, it showcases which active users will not be active in the next 7 days.
  • Revenue Prediction – wouldn't it be nice to predict the expected revenue from eCommerce purchases in the next 28 days from users who have been active within the past month? Well, revenue prediction provides this information.

Being able to predict consumer behavior can help you fine tune your marketing campaigns. Therefore, you can make informed decisions about sales promotions and price policies. It will also help ensure you foster a good relationship with your current consumers. 

Market for both website and app

An image of a hand holding a phone in the foreground and an open laptop in the background. Both screens are displaying analytics programs.

Universal Analytics, unlike GA4, isn't ideal for the current marketplace. For starters, it wasn't built to work in a universe where one individual uses multiple gadgets to access an app or website. Therefore, a business that uses both mobile apps and websites to engage its users will find Universal Analytics impractical.

Even if your business only uses a website to host traffic, GA4 is still an excellent option because you get to track individual users across multiple devices. Therefore, you get more accurate reporting.

New terms in GA4

Now that you know a bit more about what's new in GA4, it's time to break down the terminology you'll need to understand to make the most out of the tool. 

Reports:

  • Home – you get to see the total number of conversions, events, revenue, and users for the property. It also showcases user engagement trends.
  • Monetization - this showcases the value that your app or website is creating and includes an eCommerce purchases report.
  • Realtime – it shows who is currently viewing your app or website. You get a world map of everyone engaging with your app or website with more details at the bottom.
  • Retention – this report showcases how often visitors come back to your app or website.
  • Acquisition – you get to view details on how users find your website. It includes all marketing channels that lead people to your website.
  • Demographics – this includes details on user geographical reports, their interests, gender, languages, and age ranges.
  • Engagement – this shows the pages that most people are viewing on your mobile app or website. You also get to view metrics such as Daily Active Users and Monthly Active Users.

Event Reports

  • All Events – this includes all the events captured by your GA4 tool.
  • Conversions – this lets you see the number of conversations on your app or website.

Explorer Reports

  • Exploration – this lets you design reports for different analyses using charts and tables.
  • Funnel analysis – this allows you to make ad-hoc funnel visualizations. Options include either a 'standard funnel' for users completing steps or a 'trended funnel' for trends within each funnel step.
  • Analysis Hub – this lets you store custom analysis reports for editing, sharing, copying, and quick access.
  • Path Analysis – this showcases how people navigate your app or website.
  • Segment Overlap – this allows you to create, select, and compare multiple audience segments.
  • User Lifetime – this shows the total value of users, even those that made purchases outside the current data range.
  • Cohort Analysis – this allows you to group users depending on periods.

Report Configuration

  • User Properties – you get to define and collect customizable information about your users.
  • Audiences – this gives you the option to design custom audiences, thus focusing your analysis on specific user sections.
  • DebugView – this is used to debug your iOS or Android app by viewing available event data.

Property Configurations

  • Data Streams – this allows you to configure Enhanced Measurement, view 'Measurement ID', and connect to other data streams.
  • Default Reporting Identity – this makes it easier to control user identification.
  • Property Settings – this allows you to edit property name, report time zone, and select default industry category.
  • Data Settings – this lets you change the default data retention period. You can customize it from two months to 14 months.

Applying Google Analytics 4 to your B2B website

Implementing GA4 for your B2B website is actually quite simple. All you need to do is follow these three steps:

Step 1: Create an Analysis account

Getting started with GA4 is only possible with an active Analysis account (you can skip to step 2 if you already have an account). Go to the Account column in GA4 and click on the 'Create Account' option. Proceed to name your account and configure data-sharing settings to suit your needs. Click on 'Next' to begin step 2.

Screenshot of GA4 Home page. Bottom left "Admin" button is highlighted.
Visit your current Google Analytics Account and Click on "Admin."

Step 2: Creating a Google Analytics 4 Property

Clicking on 'Next' in the previous step allows you to 'Create Property' under the Admin panel. Proceed to name your property and pick a currency and time zone. Next, click on 'Show Advanced Options and enter your website URL with HTTPS or HTTP.

You get two options after the above step – create both a Universal Analytic property and Google Analytic 4 property, or just a Universal Analytics property. The first option lets you transfer data to both properties.

Screenshot of GA4 Admin page. Top Center "Create Property" button is highlighted.
Then click "Create Property."
Screenshot of GA4 "Create Property" tab. Bottom left "Next" button is highlighted.
Create a new naming convention if needed to denote your two properties, GA and GA4.

Step 3: Add Google Analytics 4 Tag to your B2B website

If you select both Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics property, use the code 'Global site tag (gtag,js)' to find the Analytics page tag. Copy and paste it to your website using the custom HTML feature in your Content Management System.

If you select create Universal Analytics property only, copy the 'UA-tracking identification and paste it in your Google Analytics tracking field. Use the website builder for this step.

Screenshot of GA4 Tagging Instructions. Middle right "Copy" button is highlighted.
Copy the code...
Screenshot showing GA4 Custom Code tab.
And drop it on your website (Steel Croissant proudly uses Webflow, so that's what we are showing here).
Screenshot of GA4 "Reports snapshot" page.
View your new property and ensure the data is getting captured.

Configuring Google Analytics 4 to match your needs

Configuring GA4 to suit your needs will help streamline the entire setup. Below are a few practices to ensure you track conversions more effectively.

Define specific events to track

With GA4, you can use an existing event or create a new event. Therefore, it makes it easier to track specific events that matter to your business. Include custom events for critical conversations that dictate the success or failure of your business.

Link Google Analytics 4 to paid ad accounts

You must set up all features of GA4 at the very beginning. This includes linking all other Google features – most importantly, Google Ads. Doing this will help you better analyze different aspects of your website.

Track entire consumer journey

Understanding the consumer journey is a vital aspect for all companies. GA4 lets you quickly turn event tracking on and off. Therefore, you can map the whole customer journey to help you determine what is worth tracking. You will find it easier to identify points of drop-offs within your sales funnel.

The bottom line

Updating to GA4 right now give your business the jump on 2022. You get a robust reporting mechanism that helps you make better marketing decisions. If you need help configuring GA4 (the most important part of the tool), then reach out and let's give you better insight into your website performance. At Steel Croissant, we can help ensure your update will make your business future-ready. Contact us today to get started!

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