[June 26, 2023]
If you have a website, you probably are driving traffic there. But how do you understand what your visitors are doing? How much time are they spending on your pages, interacting and engaging with your content, or converting on your forms? The answers to all these questions and more are found in the analytics of your website and major changes recently came to one of the biggest platforms on the market today.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest iteration of Google's web analytics platform, introduced in October 2020. The selling point of this new platform is a more comprehensive understanding of user behavior across various digital platforms, such as websites and mobile apps. Unlike previous versions, GA4 focuses on event-based data rather than session-based data, providing more detailed insights into specific user actions. Clear as mud? Keep reading as we breakdown what this means for your Google’s Analytics platform and why you should care.
First, you may be asking, “If GA4 was introduced in 2020, why are we talking about it now?” Fair question. As of July 1, 2023, support for older versions of Analytics ceased to collect data.
Now, let’s dissect the difference between event-based and session-based data:
- Sessions-based data groups user interactions and data into timeframes, beginning when they arrive or your platform and ending when they leave or timeout. While this is helpful to identify user trends, the data is not customizable. You’re unable to tailor parameters to specific business needs. In short, it is what it is.
- Event-based data is the collection and analysis of every action someone takes within a digital platform, such as clicking a button or submitting a form. This enables more granular insights into specific user behavior, and provides a more comprehensive look into the data collected.
While both methods have their merits, event-based data offers a more in-depth and advanced analytical approach, which, in turn, can help businesses marker more effectively.
Beyond the data collection and presentation aspects (more on that later), there are other noteworthy features in GA4 you should be aware of:
- Cross-Platform Tracking: GA4 allows you to track user interactions across multiple platforms. This means you can gain insights into how users engage with your website, app, and other digital assets, providing a holistic understanding of their behavior.
- Machine Learning and AI Integration: Like many platforms in 2023, GA4 incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, which offer automated insights and predictive analytics. These features help identify trends, uncover hidden patterns, and provide valuable recommendations to optimize marketing strategies and enhance user experiences.
- Privacy-Centric Features: In an era where privacy and data protection are paramount, GA4 takes these concerns into account. It provides more granular data control options and limits the collection of personally identifiable information. This ensures compliance with privacy regulations while still delivering valuable insights.
It's important to be aware that GA4 has a distinct data structure and reporting interface compared to the previous version, Universal Analytics. The data models are fundamentally different, which affects the way numbers, namely events, are displayed. Other data points have shifted, most notably, the metrics related to bounces. This means that transitioning from the older version has a learning curve.
However, after getting over the initial hump, GA4 provides powerful capabilities and valuable insights to make data-driven decisions and enhance any online presence. Read more about GA4 here.
Looking for help dissecting your business’s GA4 data? Fill out the form below to see what AKC Marketing can do for your business.