Google developed GA4 to address the issue of customer journeys becoming more complex and often involving multiple platforms. With the number of custom apps exploding a few years ago, often a customer would start their journey on a company’s website and then make a purchase through the app, with multiple user sessions happening in between.
This is why it is so important to combine and analyse the data collected from the web and the app – and GA4 does just that.
Rather than collecting data on specific user sessions as Universal Analytics does, GA4 relies on AI-based insights to detect trends in the data collected, predict customer actions, and estimate revenue.
One important difference is that GA4 heavily focuses on the data collected after a customer has been acquired, such as their engagement, total monetisation, and retention.
GA4 continues to build on the power of AI to expand its predictive power.
While Google has been offering some AI-based insights with its Google Now since 2016, GA4 is more specific in predicting important trends in customer behaviour.
For example, GA4 can anticipate increases or decreases in demand for specific products and estimate revenue from certain audience segments. It can also predict the probability of important customer actions that are otherwise quite difficult to estimate – such as rates of customer attrition (or churn), i.e. the percentage of your existing customers that are unlikely to make another purchase from your business.
The new Google Analytics is specifically designed to address the new, stricter online privacy regulations that specify how user data can be collected, stored, and analysed.
GA4 represents another move towards cookieless data management where gaps in customer data created by missing or incomplete information are filled in by data modelling.
The ability to track the customer journey as a whole – rather than relying on fragmented data collected from multiple devices and platforms – is one of the key benefits of the new Google Analytics.
Reporting in GA4 also reflects its increased customer-centricity. To make tracking a customer through all stages of a marketing funnel as simple as possible, GA4 features Life Cycle – a dedicated new section that combines reports on Acquisition, Engagement, Monetisation, and Retention. Previously, only the Acquisition report was available – so it is a significant improvement that provides further insights into the customer lifecycle.
You receive automatic alerts of AI-based predictions based on trends in the data that you could have otherwise missed. This eliminates the need for you to conduct your own analysis that would often involve complex modelling and require significant investments of time and human resources.
These alerts make you aware of emerging trends early, allowing you to adjust your actions in real time to capitalise on growth opportunities – and detect and minimise any emerging risks.
In response to multiple advertiser requests, GA4 now measures the overall performance of your ads, combining the app and web integration data.
In addition to your Google Ads and YouTube Ads conversions, the performance tracking of other paid channels such as Facebook and organic channels (search, social media, email campaigns) also combines the web and app data.
This represents a significant move towards tracking a total return on your online marketing investment, helping you to see the bigger picture and improve your online strategy.
To start the transition, you’ll need to set up your GA4 and run it simultaneously with Universal Analytics. Since GA4 does not support importing data from Universal Analytics, it is in your best interests to start running GA4 as soon as possible to collect data and familiarise yourself with the tool while still having access to the legacy version.
So, even if you prefer Universal Analytics – or just are very used to it by now – in 2023, the switch to GA4 is no longer optional. Switching now, however, allows you plenty of time for a smooth transition before Universal Analytics is phased out completely.
So, go ahead and move from Universal Analytics to GA4 now. If you would like some guidance in making the transition – or have any other SEO-related questions – we at Digital Marketing Tribe are always happy to help!
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