Google Analytics has long been one of the most important technologies out there for getting the most out of your website. It’s a free analytics suite that enables you to see exactly how people discover your website and what they do once they get there – in other words, the backbone of data-driven marketing.
Although there are other analytics solutions in the world, none can offer the depth or level of adoption Google Analytics boasts. On top of being made by the leader in search technology, it has one advantage that appeals to everyone: It’s free. That’s right, 100% free of charge at any size.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement.
Over the years, updates to Google Analytics have usually been incremental, not transformative. The Big G is no slouch when it comes to innovation, but Google Analytics has often fallen behind in terms of its user interface. Recent changes in privacy legislation have left open questions about its future, too.
While GA adapted to new legal requirements, it was still severely lacking in some other areas.
Google Analytics 4 has burst onto the scene, and its impact will be felt far and wide. This is no minor patch, but a complete overhaul that raises the bar on what Google Analytics is and does. It’s a truly massive upgrade akin to the release of Windows 95 or the introduction of Apple iOS.
And after July 1, it’ll be the sole analytics option Google offers.
Under the Hood with GA4: An Overview of What to Expect
With the all-new GA4, the data scientists at Google went back to the drawing board to fully re-imagine what’s possible. Some of the changes align Google Analytics with best practices in the digital marketing industry. Others create never-before-seen ways to learn about your website’s audience.
Here are just a few of the fresh features and design changes:
- Collects both website and mobile application data, illuminating more of the customer journey
- Shifts the focus from old-fashioned session-based data to granular, insightful event-based data
- Aligns your data strategy with privacy norms through cookie-free measurement and modeling
- Provides guidance via advanced predictive capabilities without relying on complicated models
- Integrates directly into key media platforms to drive desired actions on websites or applications
In short, Google Analytics 4 features a completely different data structure and data collection logic. Now, marketers have the opportunity to drill down and focus on their users as people, not sessions.
Three Changes GA4 Brings to Marketing Agencies
If you hire a marketing agency, you should expect the team to be up to date with the latest technology. Part of the value an agency adds is the ability to bring that mastery to the table without charging you for applications or training. The best marketing agencies in the world are already strategizing around GA4.
Since late 2021, GA4 has fostered some profound changes:
1. A Focus on Users and Events Demystifies the Customer Journey
Traditionally, a session has been a collection of activities from a given IP over a brief period. Prioritizing users supports marketers with some of their top challenges, including cross-platform analysis. In effect, it’s easier to get a unified view of a person’s activities across a long span of time and many devices. This massively impacts the ability to attribute user actions to particular marketing initiatives and spending.
2. Realtime Report Delivers Up-to-the-Minute Insights
A new machine learning model drives the backend GA4 relies on to generate its reports. As a result, you now have access to Realtime Report, which highlights user activities within the last half hour. Marketers are exploring ways to use Realtime Reports to maximize impact from new YouTube videos, Facebook Live, and even TikTok Reels, then hyper-customize the user experience provided to first-time visitors.
3. Predictive Insights Make Retargeting More Effective
Retargeting provides the opportunity to reconnect with people who have interacted with one of your digital properties, including your website, social media, and even other advertisements. GA4’s fresh predictive insights will keep you up to date on purchase probability, churn probability, and even full revenue prediction across individuals and cohorts, letting you zero in on the most powerful use cases.
New Google Analytics sign-ups have defaulted to GA4 since 2022, but it is about to become the gold standard for everyone. Hiring a marketing agency that has already built fluency with its new features is the best way forward. With New York Ave, you can leverage the capabilities of GA4 from the very start.
Contact us to find out more about how we can help you.