Google Analytics 4 – All you wanted to know | W3 Lab

Google Analytics 4 – All you wanted to know

Before we go onto our article about Google Analytics 4, we must mention that Universal Google Analytics is not going anywhere soon.

Even though the GA4 is the future of Google Analytics, the Universal one will stay with us for many years to come.

google analytics logo - google analytics 4
Google Analytics | Source

This being said, Google Analytics 4 properties is a default when new properties are created.

In this article you will read about:

  1. Is Google Analytics 4 the future?
  2. New features of GA4
  3. Should you switch to GA4?
  4. The big changes that came with it

3 reasons why google states that new Google Analytics 4 property is the future

  • Google Machine learning takes the center role.

By doing so it automatically uncovers insights from the data. This way it improves marketing performance

  • It provides a better understanding of customer behavior across devices.

You will understand the full customer life cycle, from acquisition to retention. This is possible because the data across the app and web is brought at scale.

  • GA4 is built to last for years to come.

Great thing is that it will grow as much as your business grows. It will work with or without cookies or identifies. Gaps in the data will not be such a problem when you are learning about your customers.

New features in Google Analytics 4 properties

The new features are:

  • Event editing and synthesis
  • Data import
  • Cross-domain measurement
  • Life cycle reporting
  • Migration tools
  • New onboarding flow

To learn more about Google Analytics 4 Property and the features it brings we will share this video so you can find out more straight from the horse’s mouth.

Getting started with Google Analytics 4 Property by Google

Creating events

What GA4 enables us to do which wasn’t possible before?

We can now measure conversion at a very granular level.

What does this mean?

This means that now you can create a new event for any specific type of behavior you want to measure and then mark it as conversion.

The great thing about is that you can do it without messing with code on your website or app. You can take an event that was fairly general and make it very specific and then mark it as conversion.

How can you do that?

You should create an event that you can mark as a conversion.

How to set up an event in Google Analytics 4?

We will walk you through this process step by step through a real-world example. For this, we will use the W3 lab GA4 account.

Let’s begin.

We want to mark a page view as a conversion. But not any page view. The designated page is thank you page.

Our goal is to get prospective customers to send us a request for our services. After a request has been submitted a thank-you page appears.

We would like to mark the page view of this page as a conversion and this is how.

Step 1

Navigate to all events section in GA4. This is where we can see all events that are firing on the website.

There is already a page_view event with a good amount of traffic that is coming in. We could mark this as a conversion.

However, we don’t want to mark every single page view on the website to be a conversion. We just want to mark the thank-you page.

To do that click on create event.

google analytics 4 - google analytics account

After you have clicked on create event this will appear.

Since we didn’t have any custom events this list is empty for us. You should proceed and click on the create button.

custom events - create events in google analytics 4

After that, you should be able to see the configuration for creating new events.

Step 2

You should name your event accordingly.

Our is named thank_you_page.

configuration of the events in ga4

The event name, in our case equals page_view.

You should add condition and set it as page_location.

The page location should contain thank-you.

You can also modify the parameter configuration, but we won’t do it.

We will copy all parameters from the source page_view event and make no more modifications.

Once you have clicked on create the result will appear like this.

thank you page event in ga4

Step 3

Go back to the main reporting and mark the new event that we have created as a conversion.

We will do that by going to the Conversion section and clicking on the New conversion event.

creating conversions in ga4

Step 4

Once you did that type the name of the event we created (thank_you_page) and click save.

naming conversion in google analytics 4

Once you do that it will be marked as a conversion. As you can see in the picture below.

conversion marked in google analytics 4

Step 5

In order to check if everything is configured correctly use Analytics real-time.

To do that you should go back to the website and simulate a conversion. In our case user opening the thank you page after submitting a request.

Step 6

Once you have done that go to Google Analytics 4 real-time, scroll down, and take a look at the conversions.

If everything is ok you should see the thank_you_page event that you have created and marked as a conversion showing up.

conversions by event name - realtime ga4 - thank you page conversions

We hope that this small tutorial will help you measure conversions very granularly.

This feature is live for web streams and will be coming soon for apps.

Note: There are some limits to this feature. You can have maximally 30 conversions per property. For apps the limit is 500 unique events.

Should you switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4?

The answer to this question is simply put NO.

Even Google is saying that you should not do that but create a dual-setup.

You should keep your current Universal Analytics Property, but also get started with an AG4 property.

You could have seen this recommendation at the end of the video we shared with you above.

This doesn’t mean that in the future, a year or so, you won’t be recommended to use only the GA4. But at this moment, having both tools parallel is the way to go.

Let us explain this in a little more detail.

First of all, we must mention that Google Analytics 4 is like a new analytics tool that you will be using.

This means that the data model behind it is new, tracking points have changed, and you will find different metrics in the system.

The UI is different. The reporting that was available in Google Analytics Universal Analytics is no longer there.

There are a lot of things that you must get used to and try out.

Check out the new GA4 user interface in the video bellow.

New Google Analytics 4 User interface walkthrough

Moreover, the data model has changed, and now only events are available. You will need to model all your data structure on this new data model and make it work.

It will be much harder to find your old reports and build custom reports in the Data Studio of that data set.

This is because the pool of metrics has become much smaller, there are some new metrics and some old ones have remained, and now you should send custom data into the system.

Google Analytics 4 will no longer make all different decisions on what data should be in the system.

Generally, a much different paradigm has been created around GA4 and you will have to spend some time learning how it works.

Our opinion is that there is no reason why you should completely switch over to the new generation of Analytics. We believe that you should get used to the GA4 and track both in parallel.

So, instead of switching you should send data to both properties, Universal Analytics and GA4.

As time goes by, you may find yourself using GA4 more and basing your reports on it. Only then it will be the time to switch.

4 big changes that came with Google Analytics 4

With the arrival of GA4, there are a lot of things that are happening. We wanted to explain the very important shifts that you need to know about at this moment. And since the new tool is Google Analytics 4, we choose to talk about 4.

  1. Devices
  2. The new data model
  3. New views
  4. New perspective

Devices

In the past, it was a bit difficult to track mobile devices inside google analytics. You needed a different approach for different technology.

Before GA4, there was a different GA for tracking mobile apps, Firebase Analytics, and Google Analytics for Firebase.

The problem was that it differed from Google Analytics for websites. This is why we decided to mention as the first big change that you can now send multiple so-called streams of data into Google Analytics 4.

google analytics 4 - multiple streams of data
Data from different devices will be available to you in GA4. | source

You can now track not only your website but also your mobile devices.

You will find SDK for iOS and Android, as well as JavaScript Library based on the Gtech to track your website.

All the incoming data can now be stored and measured in one reporting interface and analyzed across devices.

This is made possible by a new architecture that enables cross-device tracking and unifies the data points across these different devices. A user cross-device tracking is also included.

New data model

To unify all the different data methods and the data that comes from these different devices Google Analytics needed to do a complete revamp.

Since the mobile app produces completely different data than a website there is no more talk about page views, social interactions, transactions.

They got replaced by one concept THE EVENTS.

An event can be anything you want it to be. You can name it to be page view, app view, or screen view. It depends on what you want to track.

After doing so you can send in any data that you really want. Once the event comes in, you can send additional data that describes it more closely called event parameters. In Universal Analytics, they are called dimensions.

New views

Now that we have a lot of data coming in from the events how can we make sense of it?

Universal Analytics had a broad spectrum of reports that answered many of the questions you could have had.

Since in Google Analytics 4 event data can be anything, it can be a bit harder for the tool to make any assumption of what kind of data is coming into the system.

This is why the number of standard reports is smaller, at least for now, and instead of the standard reports, we will be working with the analysis hub.

google analytics 4 - analysis hub
The analysis hub in Google Analytics 4

The analysis hub lets you flexibly query your data. You can do a quick analysis, build little funnels, and create groups of reports.

GA4 is not a reporting interface where you simply view your data to see what is going on. It is a platform that gives you DIY tools for your reporting and you build it yourself to suit your needs.

If you need to go even deeper into your data, you can export raw data to Google BigQuery.

In the link below you can find a guide by Brian Stark, product manager on Google Analytics, on how to export data from Google Analytics 4 to Big Query.

The Google BigQuery is their warehousing solution where you can work with your data even further, run custom analysis, combine it whit other data sources, and more.

You can pull the data from GA4 into Google Data Studio, visualize it, and build reports too.

New perspective

Google Analytics 4 is unlike anything we have experienced before, it is literally a NEW TOOL.

It provides us with a new perspective on the data and it represents the digital world differently.

You can be more flexible in the information you send into the system thanks to the simplified data model.

As it is based on machine learning, Google can use that data to come up with new insights for us.

It will not make assumptions about what type of business we have or which website we are using.

This allows for a whole new world of customization as your GA4 setup will be unlike anybody else’s.

The place of the GA4 in marketing platform has shifted.

Its focus is now more on measurement and analysis leaving some of the functionality reporting to tools like Data Studio, or BigQuery.

We believe this is because Google wants this platform to be future proof and allow us more flexibility with our measurement needs in the future.

Conclusion

This was our little take on GA4 and all the things we consider to be relevant at the moment.

In this blog post, we didn’t talk in detail about all the new features in Google Analytics 4, because, honestly, they are changing on a day-to-day basis, but there will be word about them later on.

Visit our blog post soon to get even more details on GA4.

While you are waiting for more content on Google Analytics 4:

How to get the most out of Google Analytics

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