Preparing For GA4: What You Should Do Now

smart phone on table showing search results for google analytics

Earlier this year, Google made a major announcement:

On July 1, 2023, Google will discontinue their Universal Analytics (UA) service and replace it with a new one named Google Analytics 4 (GA4). 

For the bulk of the digital marketing world and many business owners, this was not especially welcome news.

For years, Google’s Universal Analytics has been the go-to tool for tracking and reporting website traffic. Although it’s gone through numerous updates over the years, marketers and business owners are quite familiar with the specific reports and metrics that UA provides. They can often retrieve the information they need in no time. 

Now that this trusted service is going away, many folks are anxious about GA 4. 

Change can be scary – especially if it involves something that many rely on to help them navigate the constantly evolving world of digital marketing. That’s why so many are waiting to make the change to GA4 closer to the UA sunset date. 

Still, others reacted to Google’s announcement with indifference. Not sensing the gravity and urgency of this news, they feel inclined to make the move to GA4 on July 1, 2023. 

In either case, waiting to make the switch to GA4 at the last minute is problematic for many reasons. 

In the following article, we’ll take a close look at GA4, point out some of its new features, highlight some of its key benefits, and explain why preparing for GA4 now is a very good idea! 

What Is GA4? 

Like its abbreviated name suggests, GA4 is the fourth version of Google Analytics. 

Originally launched in beta form in 2019, GA4 was developed to not only offer better insight into website and app traffic, but also to comply with privacy laws such as the  California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

To comply with these laws, GA4 relies heavily on machine learning capabilities (and less on cookies) to collect user insights without collecting their personal information. 

Instead of relying on the cookies to collect user information, Google’s machine learning capabilities essentially fill-ins the missing data without compromising user privacy. 

Since UA was designed to work primarily with desktops and gather information via first-party cookies, Google deemed it necessary to sunset this outdated system. 

Starting on July 1, 2023, GA4 will be the default version of Google Analytics. 

What Are The New Features and Key Benefits of GA4? 

As with any new version of a system, GA4 offers an array of new features for gathering insights. 

Some of the most exciting features and benefits of this new tool include: 

Event-Based Tracking 

One of the biggest differences between UA and GA4 is the way that each service measures user interactions. 

In UA, marketers had to rely on Google Tag Manager (GTM) to create distinct events (ex. button clicks, file downloads) to be tracked in Google Analytics. 

However, GA4 takes a different approach when tracking events. It essentially considers almost any interaction. Rather than having to use GTM to set-up distinct event tracking, GA4 uses event tracking as its default to measure everything from page loads and form downloads to link clicks and add-to-cart clicks to almost everything in between. 

By considering every action an event, GA4 provides more insight into understanding the users’; behavior when they visit a site or app. 

Predictive Reporting

As GA4 relies heavily on Google’s innovative AI technology and machine-learning algorithms, it’s designed to measure and understand the steps a user takes from first visit to conversion.

This technology can then take that same information and use it to predict future user behavior. 

With this predictive reporting information in hand, business owners can make more informed forecast reports to help them achieve their business goals. 

Enhanced Anomaly Detection 

Predicting user behavior to inform forecasting is not the only benefit of GA4’s reliance on AI and machine learning capabilities. This technology also identifies various app and web anomalies that could negatively impact revenue. 

For instance, GA4 detects issues when web traffic is curiously low by comparing it to data previously collected during a similar time period. 

By detecting such anomalies like broken links, GA4 allows businesses to take corrective actions to resolve the issue and reduce the potential impact on conversions. 

Greater Privacy Control

As we previously discussed, one of the driving forces for the creation of GA4 was the need to comply with current and future privacy laws. 

GA4’s framework allows marketers and business owners to decide which specific users they will collect data from and determine how that data will be used in their future campaigns – all while complying with the various privacy laws. 

This same framework is also designed to be scalable as new privacy laws are developed and existing laws are amended. 

Why Should I Set Up GA4 Now? 

As you can see, GA4 offers a lot of great features and benefits to gain a better understanding of user behavior, use that information to produce better forecasts, detect website or app issues, and comply with privacy laws. 

As exciting as those advantages sound, your company may be inclined to put the switch to GA4 on their back burner for now. 

This puts your company at a disadvantage for multiple reasons. 

Not only does it deprive your company of benefiting from the advantages listed above, it also reduces the amount of time you and your team has to adapt to GA4. 

Right now, existing companies can simultaneously run UA alongside GA4. This method allows you to continue to enjoy using UA for reporting purposes, while being able to gain a deeper understanding of how GA4 operates before it becomes the default analytics tool. 

Setting the table for the switch now also allows you to collect data in GA4 for comparison. 

If you only run UA to the last minute, your GA4 account won’t have any historical information. So, essentially, it’s like you’re starting from scratch. If you start GA4 now, you’ll have collected several months of information that can be used to predict behaviors, inform your forecasting and fill in the blanks. 

Most importantly, by setting up GA4, your company has an advantage over competitors who wait until the last minute to make the switch. They’ll be starting from square one, while you’ll already be familiar with the various reports and have several months of data collected for comparisons and more informed decision making.  

Let Results Repeat Handle Your GA4 Set Up and Reporting! 

Making the move to GA4 is inevitable. As you can see, preparing for GA4 is your best course of action for many reasons. 

The longer your company waits, the harder it will be to adapt to this new tool. Plus, competitors that have already made the move will be at a greater advantage next summer. 

If you’re unfamiliar with how to migrate from UA to GA4, Results Repeat can help!

Our SEO team members are experts at all things Google Analytics. In fact, we automatically set up all of our current clients GA4 accounts by the end of June 2022 so they would have a full year’s worth of data collected before UA is deactivated in summer 2023. 

Contact our team today to learn how our team can help put your company ahead of the competition with GA4 migration, SEO, PPC campaigns, website development, and other digital marketing services!

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