What Google Analytics 4.0 means for marketing and communications
Nearly three years ago, Google announced the launch of Google Analytics 4.0. The aim was to address evolving reporting standards and help companies globally to succeed.
The differences between Universal Analytics (also known as Google Analytics 3.0) and 4.0 are stark. This isn’t just a regular update, where glitches are resolved and additional functionality is added. Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.0 are entirely different systems, measuring, in some cases, completely different data.
Uptake of the new system has been lower than Google initially hoped. This is largely attributed to how significant the changes were. In order to expedite this process, Google announced in March 2022, that Universal Analytics will sunset in July 2023. This means that new data will no longer be collected and the platform will cease to operate. Users will be able to access and download their historic data for a further three months only – from which point it will no longer be available.
What does this change mean for marketing and communications?
1. Marketing metrics need to evolve accordingly
Many of the differences between Google Analytics 3.0 and 4.0 are to do with the type of data being collected. For example, bounce rates, much maligned for their inaccuracy (session duration was automatically zero for single page visits, no matter how engaged the visitor was with the content) are no longer. Instead, Google will now measure ‘Engaged sessions’.
It’s a similar story for ‘goals’ – Google Analytics 4 eliminates this functionality. With the aim of simplifying both set-up and ongoing monitoring and evaluation, all goals are now just another type of ‘Event’.
If Google Analytics is your preferred data platform, then your marketing metrics, reporting methods and terminology will need to evolve.
2. Migrate sooner rather than later
Website data over a three month period is only useful if you have data from the previous three months to compare it to. Otherwise, you don’t know whether the more recent data shows an improvement, or dips in web traffic that need to be investigated. Data you can’t compare to anything isn’t data – it’s just numbers.
To ensure that your business retains past data to compare to after Universal Analytics is sunset, you need to have Google Analytics 4.0 up and running in tandem from 1 July 2022. You could miss out on a full year’s worth of data for comparative analysis.
If you intend to continue using Google Analytics, you must transition before the 1st July to retain a year’s worth of data.
3. Making the most out of GA4 reporting
This will be a significant part of the transition for many businesses, as the vast majority of those regularly analysing their Universal Analytics data do so by using Google Analytics 3’s many reporting templates.
While Google Analytics 4 has some reporting templates they are at best, rudimentary. As such, marketing and communications professionals that have not yet adopted Google Data Studio dashboards for reporting should do so. Not only is integration with other Google products, such as Google Analytics 4, straightforward, but it will elevate your reporting from simple analysis to visual storytelling.
Have you started the move to Google Analytics 4.0 or not sure where to begin? If you need migration support, the Missive team is here to help. We will set you up for success and introduce efficient reporting models ready to demonstrate business impact. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org