You might lose your data this year if you don’t switch from the previous version of Google Analytics to GA4. Since UA stopped processing data on July 1, learning Google Analytics’ newest version has been problematic.
The new product GA4 revolutionizes data collection and provides comprehensive measurement. It entails a fresh start and a steeper learning curve.
Despite the migration’s frightening appearance, there is good news: automated event tracking makes it simpler to capture user behavior more accurately, and capabilities that have been moved from GA360 to GA4 will thrill analysts.
GA4 will not be an exception to the rule that it is never too early to begin learning. Let’s go over all the information you need.
To assist you in using GA4 and developing data-driven product, marketing, and strategy decisions, we’ve released a new Google Analytics 4 training.
What is Google Analytics 4?
The latest version of Google’s analytics platform, Google Analytics 4, was released in October 2020 and will replace Universal Analytics in 2023.
GA4 introduces a brand-new event-based data model that enables cross-platform tracking and a user interface, set of features, and implementation methods that are all novel, unusual, and daunting.
Its features and capabilities are created to enable you to understand consumers better and predict behavior to enhance the user experience, thanks to AI-driven data and privacy-centric design.
What sets GA4 and Universal Analytics apart from each other?
Google has released four editions of Google Analytics, one of the most popular online analytics solutions, since its initial release in 2005.
- GA1: 2005; Urchin
- GA2 2008’s Classic
- GA3: 2013; Universal
- Released in 2020, GA4 took the place of UA in 2023.
When Google made its official GA4 launch announcement, it stated:
You will receive the crucial information you require from the new Google Analytics to be prepared for the future.
The significant modifications are intended to assist you in “getting ready for what’s next” instead of merely responding to the past.
Many new features available to marketers in GA4 were previously exclusively available to GA360 customers. The event-driven data model is given much attention in Google Analytics 4, especially compared to earlier iterations.
With GA4, there is a lot of territory to cover due to new features, UI improvements, and a completely different approach to viewing and analyzing data.
The GA4 model is based on user behavior and events.
Only pageviews across properties could be tracked with plain ol’ GA (Universal Analytics). It required more sophisticated event tracking and Google Tag Manager knowledge to customize it to track more interactions.
On the other hand, GA4 is ready to start collecting data right out of the box. Users are the main focus, and every interaction is categorized as an event.
Google Analytics has revamped its front and back end for the first time.
As an illustration, “Enhanced measurement” enables you to automatically gather information on scrolling, outbound clicks, video engagement, file downloads, and other activities.
The modification helps advertisers precisely track user journeys across websites and mobile applications. The old paradigm groups interactions by time frame and ties tracking to URLs.
The new event-driven data paradigm makes cross-referencing insights simpler. It also enhances pathing analysis by allowing you to view how users navigate your website and app.
Events in Universal Analytics were user interactions that could be measured without reference to a web page or screen load. Events are frequently counted as downloads, link clicks, form submissions, and video plays. Events in Google Analytics 4 properties are user interactions with a website or app that can be measured concurrently or independently from a webpage or screen load. Events in Universal Analytics have a Category, Action, Label, and occasionally a Value and are displayed with these fields in your Analytics reports. Page views, button clicks, user activities, and system events are a few examples of events.
Here is some information regarding Google Analytics 4.
For instance, a generate_lead event is sent to GA4 each time someone registers for your newsletter. You may use pathing analysis to find out what people are doing before clicking subscribe by designating that as an end event. Your website or app can be customized to increase sign-ups based on their behavior and anticipate future activity.
Four categories have been established for GA4’s events:
Automatic gathering of occurrences and events that, with the installation of the GA4 base code, are automatically logged. These are examples of initial actions such as page_view, session_start, and first_visit.
Improved measurement occasions Events that are automatically gathered and that you can activate or disable according to the needs of your website or app include scrolls, site searches, video engagement, and outbound clicks. These enable you to gauge user behavior and content success deeper than page views.
Recommended occasions. Events that Google suggests you organize based on your sector For e-commerce stores, for instance, the add_to_cart, purchase, and begin_checkout events are advised.
Personal events. You can set up your events and parameters based on your needs. For instance, if you manage an online business, you might configure an error event after begin_checkout to observe what customers do in the event of an error. Then, you can use their activities to enhance your checkout procedure.
Aside from custom events, GA4 can automatically log the bulk of pertinent events without manually setting them up using Google Tag Manager or the global site tag (gtag.js).
Integrated web and mobile analytics
The emphasis on merging your web and mobile data is another significant distinction between GA4 and its predecessor—you can view, track, and control everything from one platform.
You can finally combine your data from the web and mobile if you are an analyst who oversees both websites and mobile applications. Because the data is stored in each platform’s database using the same schema, this is significantly more powerful than the rollup properties you may have previously utilized.
Cookies are replaced by machine learning.
It’s getting more challenging to track users using cookies due to the GDPR legislation implemented in Europe and the increased privacy online. Third-party cookies are being phased out as a result. By default, Firefox and Safari already prevent them. Google expects to follow suit in 2023.
GA4 eliminates the need for cookies via machine learning. Google’s AI-powered insights will notify you immediately of any product data trends. Additionally, you get access to predictive metrics to assist in identifying individuals and behaviors that might result in a purchase. Which are:
Purchase probability: An active user will likely purchase during the next seven days.
Churn probability: The likelihood that a user who was active during the past week would not be active over the following week. 3. Revenue forecast: The anticipated revenue from purchases made in the next 28 days by active users in the antecedent 28 days.
You may use this information to predict customer behavior and modify marketing strategies to target high-value audiences.
Improving the process of debugging.
Determining whether a problem is with Google Tag Manager or your website when debugging in UA could be challenging.
By providing a live debugging report called DebugView in the UI, GA4 aids users in overcoming these difficulties. This lets you configure user settings, watch event data in real-time, and apply custom parameters.
Devices with debug enabled can also be isolated and the user data viewed. Additionally, you may import data directly into DebugView in real-time to detect problems quickly if you use the Google Tag Manager Chrome plugin.
While running tests on your app, data collected while Debug Mode is active will be filtered out of other reports to not artificially inflate your metrics (in other words, no more separate GA properties for production and staging). Without Debug Mode, GA4 will batch your events together and send them across the network in bundles (which is part of the reason you shouldn’t use a proxy).
Free connection to BigQuery
BigQuery eliminates the sampling problem that frequently arises while building complex segments in GA by enabling big and complex data sets to be queried quickly.
This capability was formerly restricted to GA360 users. However, with GA4, everyone can benefit from exporting raw event data to run queries and export to a third-party tool.
With the help of the BigQuery integration, you can transfer your unprocessed event data into a data warehouse, giving you access to predictive analytics, machine learning models, and practically limitless customization.
Compared to the current GA360 export, updated every 10-15 minutes, it includes a fresh streaming export within seconds.
Charles Farina, the Adswerve Head of Innovation
The GA4 user interface is the change that stands out the most. The new data-gathering approach has simplified the navigation structure to concentrate on user pathways and events.
Interface for universal analytics:
Data tables have been updated, and visualization has been improved. It is now simpler to quickly and comprehensively view real-time data.
Additionally, you can interact with the data and provide comparisons actively. You can contrast recent user activity from all countries with recent user activity from a particular country, for instance, or recent user activity from desktop devices with recent user activity from mobile devices.
It may take some time because it is a drastic departure from UA. Viewing and anticipating user behavior using GA4’s new style is simple once you’ve become accustomed to the new data model.
All users now have access to funnels, which were previously only available to GA360 users, thanks to GA4. You may now create retroactive and segmentable funnels with the new, highly customizable funnel features.
Building user-based, adaptable funnels was a feature of GA360 that has been incorporated without charge in GA4. I think a lot of users will benefit from the reporting capability.
Here is a simple guide for setting up Google Analytics 4
Google has developed a Setup Assistant to make setting up a GA4 property alongside your current UA as painless as possible if you’re transitioning from Universal Analytics.
Here is how to accomplish it:
- Go to your Google Analytics account and sign in.
- In the bottom left menu, select the gear icon (Admin).
- Ensure the proper account is chosen under Property, then click GA4 Setup Assistant.
- I want to establish a new Google Analytics 4 property. Click Get Started.
- You can choose whether you want the Google wizard to allow data collection using your current tags if your site uses gtag.js.
You will notice a notification informing you that you must put new tags on your website if you use a website builder or CMS (such as WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, etc.), Google Tag Manager, or if your site is tagged with analytics.js.
This is explained in Google’s guidelines for adding a GA4 attribute.
The Create Property button
Google will set up your new property by establishing a connection between your current analytics and GA4 using the information from your UA property. Additionally, it will activate enhanced measurement, so you can start understanding user behavior right now. All of this is done in addition to your current UA data, letting you continue using your current configuration for tracking data.
Click See your GA4 property on the GA4 Property Setup Assistant Page to access a new Setup Assistant for configuration.
Here, Google offers the following modifications:
Installing tags will help you gather event information for your new property.
Add events not covered by automatic or improved measurement when using custom event measurement. For instance, you might wish to monitor form submissions or clicks on certain links that direct users to take action.
User ID: To track site visitors across platforms and devices, provide them with individual user IDs.
To take advantage of Google’s AI, enable default events for enhanced measurement.
Turn on cross-device reporting and user demographic information from Ad Personalization users to activate Google signals.
Link to Google Ads: To track ad statistics, link GA4 to your Google Ads account.
To export and query analytics data, connect GA4 to the BigQuery database.
Define Audiences: Group users into groups for reporting and analytics. You might select to categorize users from a specific region or based on an action like clicking through from a Facebook post to your website, for instance. Then, you may use these audiences to make remarketing or location-specific ad campaigns.
Conversion setup: Establish unique conversions to give significance to significant interactions (such as file downloads, form submissions, and newsletter sign-ups).
Establish measurement for e-commerce-specific events to put e-commerce measurement into practice. For instance, add_to_cart or select_promotion are used when users add something to their shopping cart.
Manage users: Control who has access to your GA4 asset. This is helpful if you need to provide a team member with access.
A fresh data stream is being added.
The GA4 Setup Assistant will automatically build a data stream for your website during setup. To add extra streams for the web, iOS, and Android apps:
- Click Add Stream under Admin > Data Streams.
- Select a web, iOS, or Android app.
- Enter your iOS bundle ID or Android package name if you’re adding an app data stream, then click Register app. After adding the Firebase SDK to your app and following the prompts to download the configuration file, run the application to ensure proper installation before selecting Finish. Enter your primary URL, enable enhanced measurement, and click Create stream if you’re adding a Web data stream.
Conversion tracking and event setup in GA4
You may monitor frequent occurrences and track them as conversions using the Setup Assistant.
The “Events” report allows you to handle conversions and events manually. Turning the switch under Mark as Conversion from here can quickly monitor all currently occurring occurrences as conversions. The “Conversions” report will then display the outcomes.
You must select Create Event in the “Events” report to add a new event to track a particular page.
For instance, you can configure an event with page location as the parameter and thank_you as the value if you want to keep track of users who view a thank-you page.
Your report will record this page’s user view as an event. You may then mark it as a conversion from there.
Finally, you can use a GA4 event tag in Google Tag Manager to track events and conversions. If you want to monitor a certain action, like a button click, this may be helpful.
You must first configure GTM before you can proceed.
Create Google Tag Manager settings in GA4
- Two tags from Google Tag Manager are compatible with GA4 properties:
- Configuring Google Analytics for Version 4
- Google Analytics: Event Type GA4
- GA4 Configuration Tag Configuration
Every page on which you want to collect GA4 property data should contain the Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration tag. Additionally, it must be fired before you create an event.
The GTM configuration is as follows:
- Click Tags > New.
- the Tag Configuration button
- Go to Settings > Google Analytics > GA4 Configuration.
- Type in the measurement ID. This can be copied from Google Analytics’ Admin > Data Streams page.
Add any parameters you want to configure to Fields to Set. Google advises utilizing approved event parameter names for the best outcomes.
Add any unique user properties you wish to configure to User Properties. Some user properties are registered in analytics automatically, but you can add up to 25 more for each GA4 property.
If you want Configuration tags to fire before any event tags that require it, define a Tag Firing Property in Advanced Settings or utilize Tag Sequencing.
Select the triggers that cause the tag to fire by clicking Triggering. For instance, setting the configuration tag to “All Pages” would cause it to fire on each page of your website.
Publish your container after saving the tag configuration.
Establishing a GA4 Event tag
GA4 event tags are not usually required. For instance, you should switch to the new Enhanced Measurement functionality if you presently use UA tags to track events that may be captured with them.
When you require more information than Enhanced Measurement can offer, you should add a tag. Google provides the following illustration:
“You can trigger a Google Analytics 4 Event tag to fire based on Tag Manager’s scroll depth trigger if you want to collect more detailed scroll depth data than what is provided by enhanced measurement.”
This is how a GA4 Event tag is configured in GTM:
- Select Tags, then New.
- the Tag Configuration button
- Choose GA4 Events for Google Analytics.
- Use the Configuration Tag you previously defined under Configuration Tag.
- Enter the name of your event under Event Name (Google advises using the suggested event names for the best results).
- Enter your parameter name and value under Event Parameters (for optimal results, Google suggests selecting one of the suggested parameter names).
Include your personal user properties.
If you want Configuration tags to fire before any event tags that require it, add a tag firing property in the advanced settings or use tag sequencing.
Select the triggers by clicking Triggering (for example, if your event is the purchase,” the motivation is when a user completes their purchase).
Publish your container and save the tag configuration.
Activate Debug Mode
The last step in verifying your analytics configuration is to enable Debug mode. Additionally, it’s significant, as Ken Williams explains:
Without Debug Mode, GA4 will bundle your events into batches and transmit them across the network, which is one of the reasons you shouldn’t use a proxy. However, when Debug Mode is active, your data will be sent instantly as you test your app. To prevent artificially inflated metrics, data collected when Debug Mode is involved will also be filtered out of your other reports (i.e., there will no longer be different GA properties for production and staging).
Your website and apps both have various levels of debug mode enabled.
Setting up your website’s debug mode in GA4
Installing and activating the Google Analytics Debugger Chrome extension will enable debugging for website events.
Enabling mobile debugging in your iOS application
According to Google’s official website, the steps below must be followed to enable debugging for iOS:
On your developer device, enable Analytics Debug mode by entering the following command line parameter in Xcode:
This behavior will continue until you specifically disable Debug mode using the following command-line option.
- enabling mobile debugging for your Android application
- Google has provided the steps listed below to enable debugging on Android:
- Execute the following commands on an Android smartphone to enable Analytics Debug mode:
- adb shell setprop package_name.firebase.analytics.app
- The following command must be used to disable Debug mode before this behavior stops: specifically
- set-prop debug.firebase.analytics.app. None in the ADB shell.
The top five GA4 reports for marketing insights.
We briefly mentioned how GA4’s events-based model and machine learning enhance reports to provide you with a more thorough understanding of user behavior.
Let’s now examine how you may improve your marketing by using these reports.
- Reports picture
After logging into GA4, the report snapshot is the first page you see. These main components of your website—traffic, interaction, conversions, and revenue—are summarized. If you’re keeping track of metrics for mobile, “Firebase” will give you comparable information about your apps.
View the top campaigns, sites, and traffic sources quickly using snapshots. And to check from an aerial perspective that everything is working properly.
The prior 30-minute events are displayed in the real-time report. For traffic behavior following a recent product introduction, this is helpful.
Real-time will enable you to rapidly assess how a new blog post, video, or product works.
Additionally, you can run up to five comparisons to compare how various portions are doing in real time:
This differs from UA, where real-time reporting doesn’t offer side-by-side comparisons. Additionally, it means that applying filters to view performance is no longer necessary.
Real-time allows you to “view a user snapshot” in addition to comparisons (available across all reports). This describes every incident that happened while following a random person’s user journey:
Utilize this information to gain insight into how people interact with your website or app in real-time, including their location and actions.
- cycle of life
Reports on life cycles adhere to the conventional conversion funnel:
You can quickly see how users join your conversion funnel and their subsequent behavior with the help of these reports.
For instance, acquisition reports show you which channels bring in new clients. Then, you may use engagement and retention reports to understand customer behavior and whether they stick around after purchasing.
Use this information to respond to queries like:
- How recently did a user interact?
- When did a user last buy something?
- Which sources of traffic give users the highest lifetime value?
- Which marketing efforts offer the highest lifetime value?
- Population Trends and Technology
The “User” portion of UA has a lot of the same information as the “Audience” component. To determine demographic majorities, specialized demographics, and failed demographics, the reports can be used in the same way:
Let’s say you manage a fitness brand, and demographic information reveals that most of your customers are fit young girls. Using this data, you can add pictures of young women working out to your website and app to make it more engaging and relevant.
Demographics can be used to identify market gaps for a specific target. Women over 65 who enjoy working out at the gym, for instance. They can then be targeted with customized information and performance-enhancing items.
You can use user reports to identify demographics that aren’t doing well. You might notice, for instance, that younger customers aren’t drawn to expensive goods. Or older generations favor phone-based purchasing. Data can then be used to adjust content to be more accessible or target audiences other than those.
- Explorations Hub
Perhaps the most important new feature for marketers in GA4 is the Explorations Hub. To help you delve further into client behavior, you’ll find a range of advanced analytics here that go above and beyond typical reports.
Google’s perspective on what is feasible is as follows:
- Swiftly execute ad hoc queries
- Simple configuration and technique switching
- Refactor, classify, and delve deeper into the data.
- To focus on the data that is most pertinent to you, use filters and segments.
- Create audiences and segments.
- With other users of the same Google Analytics site, discuss your findings.
- Export the exploration data so that other tools can use it.
- Run the following six procedures from the Explorations Hub:
Exploration is the most typical method of data analysis. It is simpler to deliver analyses to clients in a way that makes sense when you can display your data in bar charts, pie charts, line charts, and geo maps using various visualization methods.
Cohort evaluation. Examine a user group with a particular trait (such as an event or conversion). For instance, you could create a cohort report to examine users’ conversion rates after reading sales pages and compare their actions to those of other users.
Funnel evaluation. Imagine the actions users take to act. For instance, you can tell how well people are doing or failing by looking at what they do before enrolling in your course. The data can then be used to modify your funnel or content.
Analyze the path. Visualize the events stream as a tree graph to observe the routes people travel via your website or app. This research aids in identifying the most popular pages users visit after entering your website or application, looping patterns that may indicate users are becoming stuck, and the influence of events on subsequent user actions.
Overlap of segments. Analyze the interactions between the various user categories. This method can be used to find new user groups on your website. To evaluate the overlap between the three and determine how many new users are making purchases on mobile, you could, for instance, construct segments for new users, buyers, and mobile traffic.
Duration of use: Imagine how users interact with your company. Here, you may learn which sources or campaigns bring in users with the highest lifetime revenue during a specific month, which efforts bring in worthwhile clients, and the dates on which consumers most recently made purchases from your website or used your app.
How to develop original analyses in GA4
- Click Explore in the left navigation menu to launch explorations.
- Use a premade template to start immediately if you are certain of the approach you want to study. If not, press + to make a new, empty template:
The left column of the Explorations Hub interface contains segments, dimensions, and metrics. You want to analyze this audience, these circumstances, and these data points.
You can choose the type of visualization and the values you want to appear as columns in the report by using the right column.
On the right side of the screen, data is visualized. From here, you can click on data points to interact with your data further and add up to 10 other tabs.
In their introduction to Explorations, Google explains how to use the platform.
Final Thoughts on GA4
Universal Analytics has since been (nearly) entirely superseded by Google Analytics 4. Marketers who began utilizing it in the past had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with new features and start gathering historical data.
Those who waited until this point might have difficulty navigating the vastly altered UI, comprehending the new event-based approach, or utilizing the new reporting options.
However, once you get past the learning curve, the new version of Analytics offers an intriguing data model, improved ways to gauge user behavior, and GA360 capabilities that can be used to make data-driven decisions.
When you’re prepared to master GA4 and achieve practitioner-level proficiency in all engagement and acquisition reports, check out the Google Analytics 4 course.