On July 1, 2023, the reign of Universal Analytics (UA) officially ended and entered Google GA4. Now, it is given for businesses to set their GA4 up and running smoothly to gather, process and analyze data. It is the ultimate tool to process data and obtain valuable insight into customer behavior to make an informed decision to optimize your website from strength to strength.
However, does the whole commotion of setting up Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the newness of the platform, and the graphs intimidate you? Universal Analytics itself was an elaborate and complicated system, and with the transition to Google Analytics 4, things have become all the more challenging for website owners. So here we are to help you navigate the new terrains of GA4 and make the smooth switch from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4 today.
Google Analytics 4, which rolls off the tongue as GA4, is Google’s web analytics platform’s new release. It is designed to provide website owners and businesses comprehensive insight into user behavior and engagement across different platforms and devices- websites, mobile apps, and offline data. The new version comes with updated features since its intention is to be a more comprehensive and user-focused analytic tool than its predecessor, i.e., Universal Analytics. Leveraging GA4, businesses can enhance and make more decisive data-driven decisions to improve their online presence and performance.
GA4 is a new version and a new platform, so it’s fair to have curiosity and a keen desire to know the features and updates it offers compared to its forerunner- Universal Analytics. Let’s list down the key differences between GA4 And UA.
Universal Analytics operated a session-based data collection model, where individual user sessions were viewed separately. The user data was collected through pageviews and events associated with specific sessions.
In GA4, every interaction is recorded as an event, meaning it focuses on tracking user interaction as an event. Events in this scenario include clicks, pageviews, form submissions, and more. The flexibility and customization options GA4 offers in tracking specific user actions is why it’s superior to its forerunner.
The prominent feature GA4 introduces is regarding the analytics system, the ease of extracting mobile app data, and the obvious website data tracking. Not to discredit UA’s capability to do so, but it required site owners to create a separate property. Since GA4 offers an all-in-one tracking solution, website owners get a comprehensive picture of customer navigation data on their websites.
A contrasting aspect between UA and GA4, which becomes crystal clear in the contrasting data between the two platforms, lies in the distinct session values they present. In UA, a session is considered the time period when a user lands on your site and is actively engaging on the site. The factor that determines the end of a session in UA is determined by the session timeout settings or 30 minutes of inactivity, and a new session is established when the clock passes midnight and when a new campaign parameter is encountered.
In contrast with GA4, the sessions_start event generates a session ID by which subsequent events throughout the session are connected. In GA4, too 30 minutes of inactivity or session timeout setting results in the session ending. However, sessions are designed to span through the transition between days and are unaffected even if new campaign parameters come into play.
For a long period of time, bounce rate was a measure based on which website owners would determine the metrics of their website success. UA calculated the bounce rate based on the percentage of website users who didn’t interact or view more than one page during a session on the site.
GA4 went with a more “positive approach” where the bounce rate is omitted from reports. It is no longer a stand-alone metric but falls under the bracket of engagement rate figures. With GA4, the bounce rate is calculated by the percentage of sessions which didn’t result in an engaged session. Now you might ask, what is an engaged session? The session lasts a minimum of 10 seconds and has at least 1 conversion or a minimum of 2 page/screen views.
Users Vs. Traffic
So first, let’s lay out the basics: a user is a person that visits your site; if they visit from their phone and the desktop, it still counts as the same user. But with traffic, it refers to sessions. The user acquisition and traffic acquisition are split into two reports in GA4, resulting in separate acquisition dimension users, and sessions.
Universal Analytics has fewer built-in privacy features; businesses must handle user consent and data retention policies externally. The new and improved GA4 offers more robust privacy and consent features. It allows businesses to define data retention periods and supports data deletion upon user request.
Now that you know the new features GA4 has to offer, let’s shed light on migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4. Google has provided the Setup Assistant feature to ensure a seamless process of setting up a GA4 property alongside your existing UA. So here are the detailed steps to switch to GA4:
To begin, sign into your Google Analytics account and select the “Admin” section. Under the “Property” column, click on “Create Property.” Add the property name and select the time zone and currency. Up next, fill out the industry category and business size and specify your business objective.
In order to collect data from your website in the new GA4 property, a Google Tag must be added to the web pages. You can find your G-ID in the top right corner of the Data Stream. If you’re using platforms such as WordPress, WooCommerce, or Google Suites, you can insert your G-ID into the dedicated Google Analytics section.
If you cannot access the field to input your G-ID, you can paste the new GA4 tracking code snippet by updating the <head> section of your website’s HTML.
On the Property Column, you can see the “Setup Assistant” section and click that you can set up data collection for web, Android or iOS platforms. Choose your desired platform from where you will be collecting data.
If you’d set custom dimensions and metrics on your Universal Analytics account to record information about your user behavior or website traffic most valuable to you, in that case, you can replicate the custom dimensions and metrics in GA4 too. The “Events” and “User Properties” features ensure to recreate your tailored tracking elements in GA4.
You can migrate your audience segment from UA property to GA4, enabling you to identify your user group on your GA4 data. You can generate a maximum of 100 audience segments in your GA4 property. To migrate your audience segment, you must manually recreate them within your GA4 property. The appealing feature lies in the automatic synchronization of the audiences across all destinations, thus, eliminating the need for individual destination selection.
Google Analytics offers refinements and fresh functionalities regarding features such as data collection, user interface, reporting abilities, and event tracking, making data measurement easier. This unlocks excellent opportunities for website owners to receive comprehensive data reports, get detailed insight into their website performance, and make data-driven decisions in today’s digital landscape.
Setting up GA4 sounds thrilling and exciting, but the path to accurately migrating and tracking data can be quite time-consuming for business owners. The data analyst experts at Splendour Group are experts in doing an excellent job at Google Analytics 4 implementation and configuration to help you make your next marketing decision.
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