All you need to know about GA4
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has been streaming through the marketing data board since October 2020. This has left digital marketers clueless and ready to understand what GA4 can do for them. They’ve been on the fence of whether or not to install it on all their sites as soon as possible. They’ve also been wondering how GA4 is different from the previous versions.
What is GA4?
Google Analytics was launched in 2005. Since then, Google has rolled out four versions, including GA4.
The previous properties had distinct features that were enhanced with each consecutive version. These versions enabled separate entities for measuring mobile and website data individually. For instance, if you wanted to measure website usage data, then the GA property for tracking website data was used. On the other hand, Google Analytics for Firebase or Google Analytics APP View was used to measure mobile app usage data.
Seeing that combining the two properties would save time and effort, Google launched the fourth version, GA4. So, if a marketer wants to measure the customer journey across the mobile app and website, GA4 makes it possible. They can track and measure both platforms within the same version when creating a new property. However, if a brand does not use a mobile app, GA4 is still valid.
How does GA4 help marketers?
Now that GA4 is here to stay let’s discuss some of its far-reaching benefits.
- You can do away with the roll-up property where you used to combine web and app data. GA4 property enables a better cross-device and cross-platform tracking system. Through cross-platform insights, one can develop a profound understanding of the customer purchase journey. This leads to developing ways to improve user experience.
You can also track the number of users who started browsing on the mobile app before visiting your website to make a purchase. Thereby, GA4 enables fixing of cross-device attribution issues.
The new property also allows you to identify the marketing channels responsible for getting the most customers from across different platforms. Therefore, GA4 helps you to understand the effectiveness of your marketing strategy across devices or platforms.
- Unlike GA4, there is no other GA property or version that will report total unique visitors across platforms.
- The GA4 property entails a new set of reports. This new set is called ‘Analysis’, and it enables advanced analysis. Such reports were only available with GA 360 users.
- Another feature that was only privy to GA 360 users was its connection to Big Query. GA4 property is connected with Big Query too. This means that raw data GA and SQL run queries can be easily accessed.
- Sending the volume of data to the GA4 property is limitless. However, there is a limit on the number of unique events one can utilise.
- Events like scrolling, video views, site searching, and site exiting, among other events, can be tracked. The tracking is done by the ‘enhanced measurement’ feature that needs no coding or tagging.
- The ‘Debug View’ report is a feature available in the GA4 property. This report helps you validate the analytics configuration for apps.
- A new set of engagement metrics takes its place in the latest version. The metrics include engaged sessions, engaged sessions per user, engagement rate, and engagement time. These metrics help track users engagement with the website and mobile app more accurately.
What the GA4 property won’t give you
For a marketer seeing and experiencing this new version for the first time, the GA4 may seem intimidating and complex. The reports and metrics that you are used to seeing and applying are either replaced or removed. You will be using new features that you’ve never used before but trust that they are beneficial.
While the volume of data sent to GA4 is limitless, the number of unique events that can be used is bound.
In addition to the above, GA4 does not have the concept of bounce rate. The metric has been replaced by the Engagement Metrics, which shares a calculation of its own.
Engagement Rate = Engaged Sessions / Sessions
The engaged session is attributed to the GA session. This session is where the user has actively interacted with the website and mobile app for at least ten seconds. An engaged session also detects a conversion event or where two or more page views or screen views are fired.
The engagement rate can be easily used across mobile app and website because it does not rely on page views. This added benefit is not found with the bounce rate metric. The bounce rate metric cannot measure user engagement on mobile apps or other single-page apps. Also, it does not work well with news and blog publishing, where single-page sessions are standard.
GA4 in no way replaces GA3. GA4 is not yet ready for commercial consumption due to the lack of solid eCommerce reporting and attribution modelling. So, marketers are advised to retain their GA3 version currently.
How the GA account structure has changed
Initially, each GA property used to either represent the mobile app or the website. Now that GA4 encompasses both, the structure looks slightly different but is still user-friendly and easy to understand.
The property that acquires website data is called ‘Web’ property, while that which collects mobile app data is ‘Apps’ property. This was the initial structure, but the GA4 property, also known as the ‘Apps and Web’ property, collects data from both devices and platforms.
The data sources collected are termed data streams. The web data stream consists of Stream URL, Stream name, Stream ID, and Measurement ID. The mobile app data stream has an iOS app data stream and an Android app data stream. You can connect multiple mobile data streams but only one website data stream to your GA4 property.
GA4 property allows you to track both Event and parameters, known as the ‘Event + Parameter’ measurement model. This model can track user interactions, page views, app open, scrolls to video engagement, and outbound clicks, among other metrics.
So, we hope you’ve been enlightened thoroughly about GA4 and what it can do for your marketing strategies. Use the version wisely and extensively at the same time. We hope you benefit from this new version today and in the long run.