Google's latest update: Understanding GA4 and its impact on your marketing
Recent changes to Google’s analytics platform include a change to how it collects our data online. Currently, Universal Analytics (UA) is the Google platform used for tracking the visitors to our websites. As of 1st July 2023, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be the only version of Google Analytics, with UA being retired. This change means that we now must reconsider how we analyse and use data from our analytics to inform our marketing decisions. In the following points, find out what these changes will mean for your marketing campaigns.
What is GA4?
In 2020, Google announced GA4 as their fourth analytics platform revision. GA4 uses a measurement model based on events and parameters, tracking all engagement and traffic across your website. GA4 will replace the previous Google Analytics platform, Universal Analytics (UA). UA uses a measurement model based on sessions and page views, which, unlike GA4, can collect a lot of personal data. In July 2023, UA will stop recording all data; in January 2024, it will delete all data for good - this is a vital point to remember. In contrast to UA, GA4 aims to adhere to new privacy laws, particularly the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
what does this mean for marketing?
The shift to GA4 will significantly change how we use website data to inform our audience analysis, marketing campaign planning and reporting. While UA could track every time a user visited a website, GA4 will only follow the same user's visit once across multiple devices, resulting in a natural dip in recorded visitor numbers. This data change is intended to emulate users changing behaviour of browsing across multiple devices in one buying decision (such as a desktop, mobile device and tablet). However, this will impact the report following a marketing campaign if the success metrics rely on user visits or page views.
UA data will not be transferrable
When setting up a new website or launching a new service, we often use benchmarking to ensure that we can see data trends and monitor the successes against previous analytics. However, it will not be possible to export data from UA for benchmarking on GA4 because of the change to data privacy measures. As a result, all previous website data will be inaccessible unless it is exported and saved elsewhere. It will therefore be key that a set of data metrics are agreed and set up within GA4 so that trends can start to be tracked again from 1st July.
Insights will be more challenging to view
By looking at analytics alone, customer personas will be more challenging to identify as the demographic information is limited on GA4. Only if a user decides to share their data will it be possible to draw insights from those viewing your website. Therefore, it becomes more difficult to use insights to inform targeted campaigns. Instead, data from social media channels, such as Google reviews, LinkedIn impressions, or word of mouth, will be utilised more.
In summary, GA4's impact on insight-led marketing is inevitable. We should all embrace the changes as soon as possible to get accustomed to the new format and reporting methods. In terms of customer experience, the recent changes will be widely positive due to the change in data privacy. However, GA4 has introduced new challenges for marketers who need help tracking their audience behaviours to better reflect on campaign performance.
If you would like to find out how to prepare for change from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4, please do get in touch with our team today by emailing email@example.com or calling us on 01787 388038.