Perhaps asking for a free web analytics program to change your life is a lot, but we'll share examples over two posts of how GA4 will change your life because a lot has changed. First, ignore the online rancor about GA4 because Google's forced retirement of GA3 or "Universal Analytics" in July 2023 makes moving to GA4 a necessity. While we understand and can relate to some GA4 complaints, market forces meant Google had to change its analytics.
While the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws might be what created the need for GA4, the move to "privacy-first" tracking and shifting focus from webpages to customer journeys across websites via different devices played significant roles too.
In response to these market forces, GA4 collects data differently. GA4 tracks users and events, not sessions processing each user interaction as a standalone "event." Moving away from time-frame-based tracking creates benefits such as cross-platform and better pathing (how visitors move around a website) analysis. In addition, GA4's focus on events means understanding and predicting user behavior is easier and more accurate.
GA4 uses machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to fill in some gaps created by GDPR and privacy-first tracking. Google's response to the increasing difficulty of tracking customer journeys across platforms using multiple devices was to create GA4.
Since Google's forced retirement of GA3 makes the further promotion of GA4 moot, let's use the rest of Part One to answer five key marketing questions.
You may be surprised to realize there aren’t an unlimited number of website traffic sources. Instead, web visitors arrive from three sources.
By clicking on “Reports,” then “Acquisition,” then “Traffic acquisition” in the left menu, we see WTE’s new RIDEology.io website’s June traffic; note the dates highlighted in pink. Soon, we’ll want to differentiate RIDEology’s social channels, so we’ll use Google Tag Manager (GTM) to create a tag for RIDEology’s Instagram and Facebook. We’ll share tips on using GTM in Part Two; for today’s post, recognize GA4 can be modified with tags to refine “organic social.”
We know visitors to RIDEology love this 2006 Mitsubishi EVO 9 GSR.
From GA4’s “Engagement Overview” menu, click on “Reports,” “Engagement,” and “Engagement Overview” from the home screen; we learn this car has 323 views or almost as many as the ride directory’s 336.
Learning what visitors like informs our content marketing. So, for example, we might feature the 2006 Mitsubishi EVO 9 GSR on the RIDEology.io homepage, on social media, or write a post about the car and its owner. “Stickiness,” ratios that help you understand how well your content retains visitors over time, are a big part of engagement, but let’s leave stickiness for our second GA4 post.
Conversion is tricky to discuss universally because how your website defines the line between visitor and customer may be different than mine. Generally, visitors become customers by taking some positive desired action. Here are a few examples of “positive desired actions” many websites count as conversion, and we explain “Macro” and “Micro” below.
GA4 defines visitors' actions, such as page views, as "events." We recommend turning off pre-defined conversion events such as "clicks" and "page_view." Important metrics can get lost in the noise created by defining too many events as conversions.
GA4’s monetization report (Home, Reports, Monetization) is the best way to track revenue in the new Google analytics. Your first step covered in greater detail in Part Two is to set up events as conversions to see data start to appear in this report.
Once inside the report, you’ll find data similar to the e-commerce report in Universal Analytics, but in GA4, it is easier to monitor revenue across websites and mobile apps as you keep an eye on monetization over time.
WTE will migrate all customer analytics to GA4 before the July 2023 deadline. If you need help setting up GA4, email support (at) WTE.net or give us a call at 866-994-7467.
Have you moved to GA4? What do you like or dislike about Google’s new analytics? Let us know by emailing eg (at) WTE.net.