The switch to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) becomes official on July 1, 2023, and this date has been looming over digital marketers for quite some time. This move can feel daunting or overwhelming, but ultimately will empower our analytics reporting to be more robust in the years ahead—which is great news for our clients.
Google has been encouraging people to transition their tracking for a little over a year to make sure there’s access to historical data in the platform, but even with that data there, how are we supposed to adjust our reporting to account for this new platform and its different tracking metrics? Here are some tips to keep in mind as we all move into this new era of online analytics.
The switch to GA4 requires a frame shift from views to engagement.
In Universal Analytics, we were all very focused on pageviews, bounce rate and average time on page. GA4 moves to break us of that way of quantifying interactions and much like other platforms these days, forces us to focus on user engagement. As an integrated communications agency that works to craft campaigns that engage with target audiences, this move is huge for us. It’s taken a bit to make this mental shift, but I’m positive that we’ll be able to move the needle more with these engagement metrics as our benchmarks.
The tool is powerful – but it’s bound to have growing pains.
If you’ve used GA4, it’s probably given you some trouble, especially in its early days after launch. I’ve run into several issues of the platform being buggy, not displaying the data I’m looking for or Explorations (GA4’s version of custom reports) simply not working. Most of the time these issues are resolved in a day or so, which shows Google is actively working to maintain and improve this new system. However, power users are still waiting for a roll out of additional features, like accessing all available data parameters in Looker Studio, and reporting comparison customization. I’m sure we’ll see many releases in the coming months making improvements to the platform, but don’t let the small bugs and quirks stop you from using this robust new analytics tool.
Be ready for your web analytics recapping 2023 to be a little different.
The final tip I’ll leave you with is to be prepared for this year’s reporting to be changed from years past. It is likely that you’ll need to piecemeal data from Universal Analytics and GA4 to show the complete picture of the year and that’s okay. You will also likely find a learning curve with education needed as your teams and clients adjust to the new GA4 metrics. The key to all of this is remaining patient, flexible and open to learning and by 2024, reporting with GA4 will be smooth and the norm for everyone in the digital space.
If you have questions or need help with your Google Analytics 4 transition and set up, our digital team is well equipped to assist you – get in touch.
Amber Garnett is a digital manager at Stratacomm and plays a key role in establishing and maintaining client analytics implementations.