We all know that analytics have real value in the performance-driven world of marketing. Those numbers we all track and report on and worry over are logged for good reason – they reveal what’s driving consumer actions and help us refine and improve campaigns. Most importantly, they help us get real return on investment and realise the results we’re dreaming of. But, as of July 2023, how we get those all-important figures is changing.
There’s been plenty of talk about Google Analytics 4 since it was first announced back in 2020, but it’s only now that most are starting to take the change seriously. As of 1st July 2023, the standard Universal Analytics (UA) most of us use right now will stop processing data. Don’t worry, you won’t immediately lose all your hard work. Google’s provided some reassurance, saying that those existing reports will still be accessible for some (unspecified) time after the switchover, but there’s no escaping the new system. New data will only flow into Google Analytics 4. That means we need to get up to speed with the new approach, and fast.
What exactly is GA4?
You’ll start seeing this abbreviation all over the place in the next year. It, of course, refers to Google Analytics 4, the new system set to replace Universal Analytics. Though it officially arrives on 1st July 2023, we’re sure to see a long build up to that switchover date as endless users attempt to get familiar with new processes and a different set of metrics.
In many ways, GA4 is a direct replacement for the older system. It will become the place where you collect and analyse data, it will enable you to run reports and easily feedback on what’s working and what’s not when it comes to your marketing efforts. It will soon be the place where you replicate a familiar dashboard and check in on results day in and day out. But there are some significant differences.
GA4 vs. Universal Analytics
Where Google’s current offering was built with desktop web in mind, this updated system operates across platforms without interruption. As Google itself admits, online measurement anchored in desktop behaviour has quickly become obsolete, so GA4 promises to better reflect customer behaviour. By collecting event-based data across both apps and websites, it will help you to better understand customer journeys, and so tweak campaigns accordingly.
It also promises to be simpler for users as predictive capabilities built into GA4 will offer guidance and easy-to-understand insights. It will also eliminate the need for third party cookies, giving everyone enhanced privacy and the benefit of both behaviour and conversion modelling. There are plenty of benefits to the new system, but there’s no doubt it will take some getting used to. If you’re not embedded in the world of analytics, the coming shift in the metrics which can be measured using GA4 might prove particularly challenging. We already know that some handy measurements like bounce rate are being dropped, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to access all the insights you need.
In fact, many of the changes have been made to keep up with changing demands across online experiences. In the long run, they should prove incredibly beneficial, but you may need to undergo a period of learning to get the very best from GA4. That’s where we come in.
Getting to know GA4
Our digital teams are already preparing for the change and are eager to help yours manage it without a single hiccup. It may seem like the switchover is a long way away, but if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that the sooner you get used to a new system, the more you’ll get out of it. That couldn’t be truer when it comes to GA4.
Luckily, the two systems – Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 – can run in tandem. That means you can start collecting data on, and getting used to the tools and metrics in, GA4, while still running your regular reports on your current system until next summer. Not only does that give users the opportunity to familiarise themselves with something new at low stakes, but it will also help you futureproof your data strategy.
As the metrics available to measure will change with the switchover, it’s important to match your KPIs to the data you can reasonably record with the updated system. If there’s no way to align the two, now would be a great time to start work on a business strategy that can flow from UA to GA4. Now is also the perfect moment to start protecting your historical data. Who knows how long you’ll have to do just that come July 2023?
Read as one, just like in this article, the switch to GA4 might seem like a mammoth task to be overcome. In some ways, it’s exactly that. But it’s full of opportunities too and, vitally, it is up to all of us to get on board with the new system – there’s no escaping it. Whether analytics is at the very core of your role or is just a handy tool you call on every now and then, it’s up to you to learn as much as you can before the switch. Don’t worry, though, there’s help out there.
Here at DRPG, we’ve been keeping a beady eye on every development related to GA4 for some time, so we really know our stuff. Our team of digital experts are here, ready and waiting to help your teams acclimatise to GA4 and get the very most out of it from day one. Whether you’re looking for training, practical implementation or anything else in the world of analytics, we’re you’re go-to.
Not sure where to start with it all? Get in touch with our whizzy digital team at email@example.com and we’ll make sure you’re leaps ahead by the time GA4 becomes a necessity in July 2023.