Google Analytics 4 is coming: Here's how to prepare
Google will be upgrading its analytics platform from the current version that most websites have to Google Analytics 4. This new generation of Google Analytics comes with several new features to improve the overall experience of tracking users on your different web platforms. The switch from the old analytics to Google Analytics 4 will become permanent from 1st July 2023.
If you want to learn more about Google Analytics 4 and how you can prepare for it, this article is for you. So without any further ado, let's jump right in!
Why Google is switching to Google Analytics 4
The current version of Google Analytics installed on most people's websites was released in 2013. Many things about how people use the web have changed between 2013 and now. For instance, desktop users accounted for over 72% of the traffic that visited websites back then. Today, mobile traffic accounts for over 58% of internet traffic, up from just 28% in 2013.
Some of the changes Google is adding in this new version of analytics are aimed at embracing the rapid shift to mobile. This will make it easier for website/app owners to track their customers' journey effectively, no matter the platform or device they use to access their web resources.
Google is also making a few changes in Google Analytics 4 to address some privacy concerns people have had regarding its tracking technologies. Google Analytics 4 is designed to track user behaviour with or without Cookies. Cookieless tracking is one of the core features of this version of Google Analytics.
Some of the core features of Google Analytics 4, besides the focus on mobile and Cookieless tracking, include;
How to prepare for Google Analytics
As we have shared earlier, several changes are coming to Google Analytics 4 that everyone managing a website or an application should be aware of. Here is how you should prepare to take full advantage of these new changes.
Add a Google Analytics 4 Property
The switch to Analytics will become permanent on 1st July 2023, about ten months from now. So the first thing you should do to prepare for this transition is to set up the Google Analytics 4 property on your website. The good news is that you will still have access to the old analytics property, so you can always switch between the two properties.
However, the current version of analytics will be discontinued on 1st July 2023, so it won't be able to collect any more data from that point. So, setting up your Google Analytics 4 Property will allow you to track all the parameters that this new version tracks, making it possible to make year-over-year comparisons even after 1st July.
Remember that Google Analytics 4 tracks are unavailable in the older version of some metrics, such as scroll depth. Those who want to compare such metrics year over year must install Google Analytics 4 right now. Here is a full guide by Google on how to set up Google Analytics 4 property.
Get familiar with Google Analytics 4
After setting up Google Analytics 4, the next step is getting used to its new dashboard and the new parameter it tracks. Fundamentally the two versions of analytics should work the same way. However, Google Analytics 4 will give you more insights into your users' experience than Universal Analytics.
Some terminologies have also been changed. For example, session duration in Universal Analytics is now called Average engagement time in Google Analytics 4. Both versions look almost the same, so you likely won't see many visual changes. You also won't see the bounce rate parameter in Google Analytics. This metric has been replaced with engagement rate, which is basically the inverse of bounce rate.
Getting used to these changes will make your transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 smoother. As you get familiar with Google Analytics 4, you can always switch back to the older version. This will help you appreciate the changes that Google has added to this version of analytics.
Find out how you can utilize the new additions.
Google Analytics 4 gives you more details about how users interact with your website or application. This calls for making changes in how you assess the user experience of your website visitors or app users. You and your team need to take time and find out how you can utilize the new metrics, such as scroll depth, to your advantage.
The reports generated by Google Analytics 4 are also different from those in Universal Analytics. Find ways of taking advantage of the new information in these reports to improve the overall performance of your website or mobile application. The good news is that you can always compare with the old analytics version to see how they differ.
Google Analytics 4 is here, and everyone managing a website or mobile app must install it if they are to continue tracking their website or app's usage behaviour using the Google Analytics platform. The good news is that this new version has several features that will improve the way you track your websites or app user behaviour in almost every way.
Of course, you will have to invest time to familiarize yourself with the changes. However, this time investment will surely be worth it at the end of the day. Therefore, we recommend installing Google Analytics 4 now; you don't have to wait for 1st July 2023.
Take care when upgrading existing events/e-commerce data/goals will not be migrated automatically. If you are unfamiliar with the platform, please reach out to us for help with the process.