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How Google Analytics 4 Helps Marketers

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Do you utilize analytics to track the success of your content marketing? Are you ready for the demise of Google Universal Analytics?

This post will teach you how to utilize Google Analytics 4 to analyze customer behavior and measure your content marketing today and in the future.

What’s the Difference Between Google Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4?

Google is renowned for abruptly discontinuing things ranging from ambitious moonshot initiatives to cherished applications. But this time, they’ve given us plenty of warning.

On July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer receive web traffic statistics. It implies that on that day, even if you still have Universal Analytics installed on your website, it will no longer function. Your Universal page will remain active, but there will be no data to see. You will be able to access Universal by the end of 2023.

Google says: “In today’s measurement landscape, businesses must navigate new challenges to understand their customers’ complex, multi-platform journeys—all while prioritizing user privacy.” To summarize, analytics must improve its privacy and attribution capabilities. 

Universal Analytics has been dealing with privacy concerns for some time. Many states and nations have enacted new privacy rules, such as Europe’s GDPR. The GDPR contains very tight laws regarding transferring or processing European Union people’s data outside the EU, making it more difficult for Universal to display your information about your online traffic.

There are also issues with precision and attribution. By 2022, about 20% of internet users will have an ad blocker installed, preventing Universal from collecting data on their online activities. Competing web browsers have begun to provide enhanced privacy features to entice new users. As a result, the only genuinely accurate attribution data comes from users who use Chrome and do not use ad blockers. That’s a considerably smaller data set. 

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) seeks to address these issues with more flexible monitoring, granular data, and a simplified setup. But first, you must make the switch. 

What You Must Do Today: Install Google Analytics 4

In the following sections of this book, we’ll discuss what makes GA4 so helpful to marketers, as well as some of its ingenious new features. Let’s start with the fundamentals. 

The most critical step is to incorporate the GA4 code into your website. Remember that any Universal code will stop collecting data in July 2023. Set up your sources, channels, and page view monitoring now so there are no gaps in data collection when the switchover occurs.

It’s still being determined whether Google will make it easier for individuals to combine their Universal and GA4 accounts; there are no certainties now. Instead, you must create a new measurement ID to replace the existing Universal measurement ID. 

Here’s how to go about it: 

  • Navigate to your Analytics page.
  • Navigate to your Admin settings. 
  • Three columns will appear: Account, Property, and View.
  • At the top of the Property column, click the Create Property button. 
  • Follow the steps to configure your property (the app or website for which you wish to gather data) and obtain a new measurement ID.

You may set up numerous properties by repeating these steps. When you first start using GA4, you’ll notice that the Admin settings only display the Account and Property columns. However, the methods for creating a new property are the same. 

Alternatively, if you’re creating a new Analytics account from scratch, Google will immediately prompt you to generate a GA4 measurement ID. You are now ready to begin collecting data using GA4. Depending on your preference, you may run the analytics directly on your website or use your new measurement ID to get set up in Google’s Tag Manager.

Google recommends Tag Manager. You’ll discover that it can be used to automate even more with GA4, but it also works very well. 

Why Do You Need to Install GA4 Now?

It’s past time to pose the obvious question. Why go through all this trouble, exceptionally when Universal will be around until 2023? What makes GA4 so unique? 

There are two leading causes behind this:

  1. By switching immediately, you can gather additional data in GA4 before your Universal data goes. 
  2. GA4 can track more data with greater flexibility than Universal.

Let’s take a closer look at those.

Switching to GA4 now ensures you’ll have lots of data before your Universal account expires. If you wait until July 2023, you will have to start over.

If you wish to save your old Universal data, export your account history to a data warehouse. You may use Google’s Looker Studio to compare Universal and GA4 datasets. However, the more straightforward way is to utilize GA4 now so that you have a large amount of data by 2023 and do not need to preserve your Universal analytics. 

Now comes the exciting part. GA4 captures more data, provides improved management tools, and even includes machine learning. It is about making the life of marketers a lot easier. You may track events in the former Universal service by categorizing them, acting on them, and labeling them. Each dimension has a scope that specifies how long the information is valid, such as the duration of a user’s session on your website. Each size of an event must have the same scope; otherwise, your data will be muddled together.

Is it still perplexing? Most Universal users are as well. The intricacy of the numerous data types in Universal makes comparing and combining different bits of information extremely challenging. GA4 takes a straightforward approach. Every piece of data in GA4 is called a “hit.” Because everything is a hit, you can aggregate and compare every last shred of data.

You may track one event, such as a video click, with up to 50 unique factors. Tracking at that level of precision in Universal would need a problematic and time-consuming setup. Each parameter in GA4 may be monitored, displayed, reported on, and compared to others.

How to Get the Most Out of Data and Event Tracking in GA4

GA4 makes it worthwhile to capture more detailed data since the information can be used efficiently. That is not to say that you should track every available parameter for every occurrence. Consider how analytics may help you achieve particular goals for your app or website; approach metrics to answer specific questions about your traffic. 

In this part, we’ll go through some of the most significant features to utilize in GA4 and how you may boost it using custom metrics.

#1: Audiences

As we’ve seen, the main difference between Universal and GA4 is the ability to collect far more specific data. It also applies to defining your target audiences. Audiences were exclusively used for advertisements in Universal, and you built distinct categories to characterize your organic consumers. GA4 merges the two types, allowing you to leverage the same audience for paid and organic traffic.

GA4 also allows you to generate significantly more targeted audiences based on user behavior and the customer journey. For instance, you might define your audience as “people who watched a product video twice in one week and then added an item to their cart in their next session.” That is the amount of personalization and targeting we are discussing!

To dig down even more profoundly, you may construct nested audiences. You may make users members of several audiences. You can even build events triggered when someone enters a specific audience and then target them depending on that event. (Recall how GA4 allows you to merge diverse data types?)

Consider the previously mentioned sample audience. When someone adds an item to the basket, people are added to the audience of “people who watched a product video twice in 1 week, then added an item to cart in their next session.” It causes an event, and that specific user is labeled a hot lead. Then you may send personalized messages to everyone who has that tag. 

It may appear to be a complicated sequence of events, but it is straightforward to accomplish with GA4. It is essential if your app or website has many users.

For example, a website for an event space may have two primary audiences: those interested in checking out current public events and those interested in booking an event space. You can divide those two groups using GA4, tag distinct users depending on their activity, target them with relevant information, and track the results.

Keep in mind that audiences only populate once they are created. You cannot manually assign a person to an audience based on prior behavior. Another incentive to convert to GA4 now is to give yourself enough time to establish and refine your audiences before July 2023.

#2: Engagement Rate

Another new feature for GA4 is the engagement rate. It replaces the previous bounce rate measure with something more precise and informative. 

Bounce rate is a prominent measure in Universal, although it has long been troublesome. Why? Because Universal already needs to catch up on a lot of action. When a user moves on without performing any activities, it is recorded as bouncing off a page. However, individuals have frequently acted on those pages; the acts have not been documented.

GA4 addresses this issue by tracking engagement and bounce rates using new criteria.

  • Engagement rate: A person is considered to be engaged with a page if it is open in an active browser tab for at least 10 seconds. (You may change the time necessary to suit your needs by editing this term.)
  • Bounce rate: The negative engagement rate is currently defined as the number of persons that viewed a page but did not qualify as engaged.

These measures are more effective than the previous bounce rate at determining genuine interest in a page. It screens out bots, for example, because they don’t stay on a website long enough or keep the tab open long enough.

However, like with the standard bounce rate, you should give this measure a manageable amount of weight. The engagement rate is a useful diagnostic tool for determining which pages are most and least appealing to your readers. It is less helpful as a reporting tool for marketing aims.

#3: Content Consumption

Engagement time is another crucial measure in GA4: how long someone stays connected with a page after satisfying the fundamental engagement criterion. 

However, it has its challenges. Users must trigger events to continue registering as engaged, meaning some engagement needs to be noticed. For example, if someone reads a long-form post for 5 minutes but does not click on any links or reach the 90% scroll threshold, GA4 believes they have ceased engagement. In reality, they are simply reading.

Fortunately, a solution exists Content Consumption, a proprietary statistic established by the agency Kick Point. It may be added as a plugin to a WordPress site or via Tag Manager to any other website. 

How it works: 

  • Based on the word count and omitting other text on the page, content Consumption calculates how long it takes to read a piece of material.
  • The first event occurs when a user spends that time on a page.
  • When the same user scrolls to the conclusion of the content, a second event occurs.
  • A third event occurs after both events have been triggered. The user is identified as having viewed that piece of material.

It provides you with three crucial pieces of information: if your content marketing is retaining attention over time, whether consumers are browsing through your material, and whether they are consuming it meaningfully. You may utilize all of that data to improve your content marketing. For example, if users spend enough time on a page but don’t scroll to the bottom, you may need to alter it for clarity or readability. 

#4: Attribution

Most web marketers depend extensively on urchin tracking modules (UTMs) to measure attribution for both sponsored and organic content. They are still usable in GA4, although they function somewhat differently. When data concerning link acquisitions enter Universal, it is classified as “channels” based on the UTM’s source and medium information. The list of default channels and how they are defined have changed in GA4.

The Other channel, which you may recall from Universal, has been renamed Unassigned. New tracks have been added, including Paid Social, Video, Audio, and Paid Shopping, and Google will continue to add more.

There are still significant holes. There is no Offline channel, for example, in the list. Suppose the offline acquisition is a large portion of your traffic (or you suspect it is). In that case, you may experiment with Offline as a medium and monitor that traffic in the Unassigned channel. 

Most importantly, you can no longer establish your channels. You must utilize the pre-made channels. As a result, when you transition from Universal, you may need to alter your UTM processes to ensure that your data is being recorded and reported in a relevant manner. 

How to Produce Reports in GA4

So far, GA4 is excellent news for marketers. There is more data to work with, which is far more adaptable. Unfortunately, this does not apply to reporting. GA4 reporting is… adequate. You may make a rudimentary report by navigating to the Explore page, where words are named Explorations. It is comparable to making reports in Universal. However, Explorations are much more challenging to understand and deal with.

Furthermore, the data displayed in Explorations may be changed. Thresholds are a privacy feature in GA4. Thresholds guarantee that data that may be used to identify people are taken out of reports if it is judged too particular or distinctive.

There is, however, a technique to build special reports that integrate all available data. GA4 includes a BigQuery connector, allowing you to export your data effortlessly. When you ship the data, it has everything except the Thresholds filter. 

Go to your Admin settings and scroll down to BigQuery Links in the Property column to get started. Then, as instructed, connect your analytics to the data warehouse. After you’ve exported your data, you may add BigQuery as a data source in Looker Studio (previously, and much more obviously, Data Studio). Looker Studio allows you to slice and dice data without changing the head, producing comprehensive reports while retaining your original data.

To avoid setting up BigQuery in the middle, you may export data directly from GA4 into Looker Studio. Please remember that thresholding will still be performed on the data so that you will receive only partially detailed reports.


Marketers love to complain when Google releases yet another update. However, the new GA4 is beneficial, providing more data and improved privacy options. Move to the new analytics version immediately to avoid being caught off guard in 2023!

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