Overcoming Common Concerns When Switching to Google Analytics 4
If you want to make the most of the features in Google Analytics 4, this guide is here to help!
Currently, there are approximately 28.1 million websites that rely on Google Analytics (GA), according to recent data. GA keeps track of a website's online traffic, helps understand user behavior, and generates customized data reports.
However, in 2020, Google introduced Google Analytics 4 to bring in new features while ensuring the privacy of users and safe data collection. This makes a long-lasting platform that marketers can use to report and collect data in the future. Since Google Universal has retired, businesses should transition to GA4.
This helpful guide will take you through the basics and features of GA4, the challenges businesses face, and how to overcome them.
What Is Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the newest version of Google Analytics (GA) that combines information from websites and apps. It is the updated name for App & Web, a beta reporting platform that was renamed to be more precise.
From now on, all new Google Analytics accounts need to be converted to GA4, and the older versions of Google Analytics (known as Universal Analytics) have been downgraded. Since July 1, 2023, Google has retired Universal Analytics and stopped processing new data.
If your company has a website, an app, or both, you can set up a Google Analytics 4 in addition to your existing Google Analytics (UA) account. This allows them to gather data in GA4 without the risk of losing any data in their GA account.
In 2018, the GDPR was introduced, which made it necessary for users to consent to website cookies. These cookies help track how each website is performing. However, with the introduction of GA4, websites can rely less on cookies. Instead, it uses machine learning to make up for any missing user consent needed for tracking.
This change provides more stability in the industry and helps prevent future business data gaps. Google Analytics 4 tracks a user's journey, whereas Universal Analytics divides user interactions into sessions, platforms, or devices.
How To Overcome Common Problems That Come To Light During The Migration To GA4
While you may find that GA4 has numerous benefits, there are some things that you may need help with during the migration process.
Problem #1: Lack of Migration Support
Google Analytics 4 has a big problem: It can't transfer the data you already have from Universal Analytics. As discussed earlier, UA has stopped processing data, and any data you have in Universal Analytics won't be accessible in GA4.
This issue mainly affects people who are already using Universal Analytics. It means that the data for those users is split between two different analytics systems. This makes it possible to see patterns and trends across both data sets by exporting them to another system for analysis. It's also important to note that the improved analysis tools in GA4 can't be used with data from Universal Analytics.
Here are some simple steps you can take to solve the problem of not having dedicated support from Google Analytics:
Join communities: Become part of online communities like Reddit or LinkedIn. These platforms allow you to ask questions, seek advice, and learn from other businesses that use GA4.
Watch YouTube videos: Video tutorials on YouTube are an excellent resource for getting started with Google Analytics 4. They provide easy-to-understand explanations of the basics.
Set up a Slack channel: Create a Slack channel for your team to share interesting articles, posts, or videos related to GA4. This way, you can collectively learn and stay updated.
Attend workshops: Consider attending workshops conducted by experts with extensive Google Analytics experience. Workshops provide the most current information and insights on GA4.
By following these tips, you can better understand GA4 and leverage it to enhance your website and marketing campaigns. Remember – it may take some time.
Problem #2: GA4 Isn’t Fully GDPR Compliant
Since March 2023, Google Analytics 4 has been prohibited in several countries, namely Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Denmark. This ban is because these countries believe that GA4's methods of gathering and transferring data go against their data protection regulations.
One significant violation is that GA4 sends data to the United States. However, these EU countries do not consider the US to have sufficient data protection measures according to their laws. Consequently, government agencies could access the data without the user's consent.
Right now, Google needs to make some changes to meet the requirements of GDPR. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about it now. Google has mentioned that it is taking steps to resolve the concerns raised by the EU's data protection authorities.
However, it's still being determined when their analytics tool, GA4, will ultimately be GDPR compliant. While waiting for Google's updates, you do have other options. There are website analytics tools available that fully comply with GDPR. These tools come with different features that can assist companies in monitoring their website traffic and marketing campaigns.
Problem #3: Data Collection Limits
Here are some important points to remember about the free version of Google Analytics 4:
Custom Metrics and Dimensions: You can only have up to 50 custom metrics and dimensions per property. Moreover, it doesn't have an option to apply data filters.
Calculated Metrics and Data Retention: The usage of calculated metrics and data retention is restricted to a maximum of 14 months.
Conversions: There is a limit of 30 conversions per property in GA4.
The paid version of Google Analytics, called Google Analytics 360, has some advantages over the free version. Here are the benefits it offers:
More customization options: You can have up to 125 custom metrics and custom dimensions per property.
Extended data retention: Instead of the standard 14 months, Google Analytics 360 allows you to retain your data for up to 50 months. This means you can analyze and compare data over a longer period of time.
Increased conversion tracking: In GA4, the accessible version of Google Analytics, you can track 50 conversions per property. With Google Analytics 360, you have the ability to track more conversions.
However, it's important to note that Google Analytics 360 is not free. If you can't afford it, here are some alternative options you can consider:
Prioritize essential custom metrics and dimensions: Instead of creating many custom metrics and dimensions, focus on the most important for tracking your marketing activities.
Export data to a third-party tool: You can export your data from GA4 and use a different analytics tool that provides more flexibility in storing and analyzing your data.
Use consent management: Implement a consent management system to collect data only from consented users. This ensures compliance with privacy regulations and allows you to gather data from willing users.
Problem #4: Dumping Of Attribution Models
In GA4, Google has made significant changes to the attribution models. In the past, GA4 provided several attribution models, such as first-click, linear, time decay, and position-based.
However, Google has discontinued all these models except for last-click and data-driven attribution. According to Google, this decision was made to adapt to the evolving digital landscape. The company believes that rule-based attribution models need to be more accurate and flexible to track the complex buying journeys of today's consumers effectively.
This update has generated mixed reactions among marketers. Some are worried about the loss of data and tracking visibility due to the discontinuation of rule-based attribution models.
Only time will show how the changes to GA4's attribution models will affect marketers. However, Google is committed to giving its users the most precise and up-to-date attribution data they can get.
Marketers concerned about losing data and tracking visibility due to rule-based attribution model retirement should use a third-party attribution platform. These platforms can offer more accurate and flexible attribution data compared to GA4's built-in models.
Problem #5: Reports On Users As A Whole
When you look at the reports in Google Analytics, you get information about the overall number of visitors to your website. This includes how many people visit your site, which pages they visit, and how long they stay.
Google Analytics doesn't collect any personal information about the users of your website. You need help finding specific visitor details, like their names, email addresses, or phone numbers.
Because Google Analytics 4 doesn't have Personally Identifiable Information (PII), it becomes difficult to identify and track the marketing sources that bring in valuable leads and sales for your business. This means that the connection between marketing efforts and revenue is lost.
Google Analytics doesn't collect personal information, but there are ways to work around it. There is also the option of using a marketing attribution tool. These tools can follow your customers' paths and show how various marketing channels affect your earnings.
Problem #6: Reliance On Sampled Data
Data sampling introduces uncertainty into your data. GA4 uses more sampled data and machine learning to fill in the missing data. This change is in response to the removal of third-party cookies. However, this means you need a clearer understanding of the accuracy of your data. The extent to which your data is affected depends on its size and quality, but the specific impact on your reports needs to be better defined.
To solve this problem, you can connect GA4 with BigQuery. If you need to learn what BigQuery is, it's a service on the Google Cloud Platform that lets you store and analyze vast amounts of data without sampling.
After integrating GA4 and BigQuery, you can:
Get access to all your data without sampling.
Utilize data visualization tools to make reports without sampling.
Perform a more detailed analysis of your data.
Generate more valuable insights to take action on.
So, now that you know some of the most common problems that businesses face, you will be well on your way when you start manual migration. Let’s look at some of the features that GA4 offers to make your life simpler.
What Are The Features Of Google Analytics (GA4)?
GA4 significantly changes how data from your digital stuff is collected and handled. There are some key features that are better than in earlier versions.
With Google Analytics 4, you can track and analyze websites and mobile apps. This means you can get information and numbers about how well your website is doing and how people use your mobile app in one spot. This is helpful because lots of businesses are online and on mobile nowadays.
It's All About Events
GA4 has a key feature: it follows an event-centric model. Unlike older versions of Google Analytics, which mainly focus on page views, GA4 collects and organizes all data into events. An event can be any action users take on your website or app, like clicking a button, playing a video, or submitting a form. This shift provides more flexibility and customization when analyzing data.
Power Of Machine Learning
GA4 utilizes machine learning to offer enhanced and valuable insights. By employing machine learning algorithms, it conducts advanced data analysis and uncovers concealed patterns and trends. This aids in identifying opportunities and challenges for your business, including valuable audience groups, revenue predictions, and specific user actions. Moreover, the artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities in GA4 enable the development of personalized models to anticipate future user behavior.
Cross-Device And Cross-Platform Tracking
It has an improved user interface that helps identify users who visit your website using different devices or browsers. This update can tell if a visitor used your site on their mobile browser in the morning, their office computer in the afternoon, and your business app on their tablet at night. Moreover, there will be an integration with various Google services like Google Ads, Google Tag Manager, and many more. This means we can accurately keep track of individual users, allowing them to follow their entire customer journey.
This new version provides more accurate, detailed, and data-driven attribution for universal analytics properties. Using data-based attribution, you can better understand how various marketing channels and user actions contribute to your business objectives. You'll be able to identify which traffic sources and marketing strategies generate more conversions, enabling you to make informed decisions about allocating your resources.
Moreover, this attribution method ensures fairness by accurately assigning responsibility for each marketing action based on its effectiveness with different types of users, statistically speaking.
Embraces The Potential Of AI
GA4 uses advanced AI to give you more than just a look at your past data. It can now predict future outcomes with the use of data collected. These predictions are automated, so you can still use them even if you're new to this.
Additionally, GA4 provides predictive metrics and audience discovery. This helps businesses find valuable customer groups and improve their marketing strategies. For instance, you can create a report that predicts the likelihood of customers leaving and predicts your revenue. This way, you can make your retargeting efforts more effective.
New And Better Privacy Controls
It addresses privacy concerns by offering more precise control over data. It is designed to comply with regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). With GA4, you can delete data, control it according to user preferences, and manage consent options effectively.
When comparing GA4 and UA, we firmly believe that GA4 is the clear winner replacing universal analytics. GA4 is a fantastic tool that uses data to revolutionize your business, collecting data, attracting clients, and helping your practice thrive.
You will be amazed by its capabilities once you receive proper training and become familiar with GA4 events. It has the potential to enhance your practice significantly.
Furthermore, it's important to note that universal analytics historical data isn’t available for everyday businesses after July 1, 2023. Therefore, there is no time to waste. If you're too busy or not comfortable with technology, don't worry! We are here to assist you.
Adaired Digital Media is a leading multi-service digital marketing firm dedicated to helping businesses excel online. With a team of skilled professionals, we provide customized marketing solutions that drive growth, boost visibility, and establish industry leadership. We have empowered numerous brands across diverse industries, from small to large corporations. Our comprehensive range of digital marketing services, spanning brand development to global advertising campaigns, ensures exceptional results and maximum return on investment. At Adaired, we aim to surpass expectations and deliver top-quality online marketing services.