5 New Features Not to be Missed in Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics has become a standard tool for webmasters and marketers alike. For over a decade and a half, it has enabled website owners to track traffic and conversions on their websites and off-lately mobile apps too. In late 2020 Google completely revised and re-launched this hugely popular web analytics tool as Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
If you have been a GA user, you’d be familiar with the previous and long-running version of GA called Universal Analytics (UA). Well UA, is being sunset in mid-2023 and Google has been encouraging its user community to adopt GA4.
So, in this post, we hope to highlight some key features of this revamped version and how we can make the best of it. Let’s begin!
What is GA4 all about?
Users nowadays interact and engage with a brand through multiple channels and using different devices. For instance, they may visit the brand’s website in the initial stages of their buying journey and may complete the purchase using the app. As marketers, we want to see and analyze the complete user journey across devices. At the same time, given the heightened user privacy concerns service providers have to move away from cookie-based identification and adopt an approach that gathers data without personal identifiers.
GA4 attempts to address these needs. It connects data from multiple streams (website + app) into one analytics property and is built on a new event-based model. This allows us to better analyze cross-device journeys and better understand how our marketing is working. GA4 also brings changes in the user interface and reporting approach compared to the previous version of Universal Analytics.
Key New Features in GA4
Now that we have some clarity on the purpose of GA4 let us discuss a few of the main features that it offers –
Customized Reporting and Analysis
While UA allowed some customization features in reporting, GA4 takes it to a higher level. Firstly, you can create your own bespoke events, which lets you track specific actions on your website. The cards in existing reports (read about limitations of existing Google Analytics dashboards) can be customized and adjusted. And most importantly, its Exploration feature enables users to perform ad hoc queries, create reports with data visualization templates, segment audiences, apply filters, and export the data into other tools.
Full Reporting Across Devices and Platforms
People use multiple devices nowadays. GA4 can de-dupe users across data from different devices and enables measuring a single user journey across devices based on the best available user identifiers (signed-in data or your own identifier).
Insights and Anomaly Detection
Insights from your data can be easily gleaned by querying in the new search bar in GA4. This provides important information on the fly without performing any analysis. GA4 can also show anomalies in its visuals (line graphs) through machine learning and artificial intelligence. This eliminates the need to manually determine if any data point was statistically significant.
Data Collection Method
With growing criticism from privacy advocates, Google has been preparing for the possibility of shifting away from third parties use of personal user information. By uniting properties, collections, and server-side features, Google is moving away from client-side dependencies. Thus, GA4 is aligned with the future way of collecting and working with data.
With improved machine learning and artificial intelligence, GA4 can create predictive audiences using predictive metrics which can help us target prospective users who are likely to purchase. Of course, for predictive analysis to pan out historical data and a minimum number of conversion actions (events) need to be recorded.
With UA on its way to retirement in a few months, site owners may scramble to implement GA4. Because of how differently their data structures and definitions function and operate, data cannot be transferred between UA/GA360 and GA4. Act early, don’t panic! Get your website set up ready. Especially since Google Analytics data is so important. You must implement proper implementations, with enough time to work out any issues, before making important decisions based on GA information.
If you haven’t switched to GA4, now is the time to do so! Consider joining our Google Analytics 4 course to help you with that!
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Instructor: Azhar Katib
About the author
Azhar Katib is a Web Strategist enabling Singapore SME’s with their Online Presence using Conversion focused Web Design, Search Marketing (SEM & SEO) and Web Analytics. Besides being a practitioner, he also coaches learners in Digital Marketing and Website Design/Development topics as an adjunct trainer in CET institutes and independently for companies locally and overseas.
Prior to this, he has over 20 yrs of rich experience in the IT industry in managerial, consulting and technical roles with career stints across Asia, Europe & the Middle-East.
Azhar holds a Degree in Engineering, various IT & Marketing related professional certifications, and is recognized as a Specialist Adult Educator by SkillsFuture Singapore.