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Getting Started with Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

By on June 12th, 2023 in Marketing

For well over a year, Google has been announcing they will be sunsetting Universal Analytics (UA) and replacing it with GA4. That day is almost here. On July 1, the official switch will be made. Here are a few things to know that can help you with the transition.

Do I Have GA4 Active?

If you are a LKCS web or digital marketing client, then most likely we have already activated GA4 on your behalf. If you are unsure, check in with your point of contact here and we can verify that information for you and get you access to it.

If your account is not activated yet, let us know. We can help set one up for you.

Do I Need to Use GA4?

Universal Analytics and Sitefinity’s Analytics Dashboard will no longer provide new data beginning July 1st. So, if you have been relying on these to understand how your website is performing and what pages are receiving the most views, you will need a GA4 account.

Will My Data Change?

It’s possible you may see different numbers than what was reported in UA. For instance, UA only measured Total Users and New Users. GA4 splits this into three metrics:

  • Total Users
    Total number of unique users who logged an event.
  • New Users
    Number of users who interacted with your site or launched your app for the first time.
  • Active Users
    Number of distinct users who visited your website or application with an engaged session (a session that lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a conversion event, or at least 2 page or screen views).

In addition to this, GA4 can combine your website’s traffic data with your app data. So, you can see event data associated with your Online Banking or Mobile apps if your vendor allows for it.

What is an Event?

GA4 is moving away from only providing data about page views. It puts a focus on events or actions users are taking on the site, which does include pageviews. This approach can help you better understand how users are interacting with your site. Are they clicking on call to actions, filling out forms, calling your financial institution and so on? Knowing this can help you improve your site and marketing campaigns to deliver better results.

To collect this data, you must enable Enhanced Measurements under Events in the Admin panel. This allows you to automatically measure how users are interacting with your site in addition to page views. It will also give you some customization options.

Will Session Data be available?

Session data is still available, but how it is counted will vary. One of the biggest key differences is that sessions are not restarted at midnight or when new campaign parameters occur. Previously, if a user was on a website at midnight, it would automatically create a new session for that user.

What Will Happen with all my Existing Goals?

Fortunately, you can import your goals automatically using the Goal Migration Tool. As long as your Universal Analytics property is connected with your GA4 property, you can quickly recreate goals which are eligible in your new account. Follow these GA4 Goal Migration Tool steps.

Can I Import my Existing Events?

GA4 has some built in events, so I encourage you to view what is in place to see if it can replace what you are already tracking in UA. For everything else, you may need to rebuild these events with the help of Google Tag Manager (GTM). If you are already using GTM, you may be able to recreate your events in a similar set up but send the data to your GA4 account instead.

How can I collect Audience and Demographic Data?

Enabling Google Signals within GA4 allows you to collect more personalized data about users on your site who are also Google users and have consented to Ad Personalization. This allows you to build remarketing lists which you can advertise to through Google Ads. There is the option to import your existing audiences, but it may be a more advanced feature. I recommend creating new audiences as soon as possible.

With Google Signals you are also able to track user behavior across multiple browsers and devices. This comes in handy if you are tracking mortgage applications from a click on an online ad on a mobile device that resulted in their application being completed on desktop.

What Else do I Need to do Now?

Within the Admin panel of your GA4 account, there is a Setup Assistant which will walk you through some of the features I covered. Go through each line item for additional features and mark each complete as you go.

GA4 will take some time to get used to, but the added analytics tracking should help you make more informed decisions regarding your website and marketing campaigns. Spend some time looking around and create some custom reports to view the data that is most important to you. In time, it will become a valuable tool you will rely on.