Q: What is happening with Google Analytics, and what should you do about it?
As you may have heard, Google is introducing a new version of analytics called Google Analytics 4. The existing version is called Universal Analytics and it's going away. Today I'm going to cover what you need to know about Google Analytics 4 (GA4), and what it means for you.
In March, Google announced that they are sunsetting Universal Analytics and replacing it with Google Analytics 4 as of July 1st, 2023. Universal Analytics has been around for over 15 years, so getting rid of it is a really big change, especially for businesses that rely heavily on their analytic data.
So what is Google Analytics 4?
GA4 is a totally new version of Google Analytics that collects and measures data in an entirely different way.
Old Universal Analytics measurement is "session-based." It looks at a user's interaction on a specific device within a specific time frame.
It also relies on "cookies," which are bits of data that allow websites to remember things about you, like whether you've been there before, or you looked at a specific product.
The problem is the session and cookie based model is obsolete. People don't browse in a single session anymore. They interact with a website multiple times, across multiple devices. Plus many browsers have started blocking cookies because of privacy concerns.
This is where Google Analytics 4 comes in. It uses a totally different method of measurement based around events. This approach is built for the future and gives a more complete view of how users are actually interacting with your website.
So what does this mean?
The good news is: you get a newer more powerful version of Google Analytics. GA4 will be better at things like:
- Tracking how people switch between devices
- Showing how your marketing works together to impact conversions
- Using AI and machine learning to predict behavior
- Addressing your privacy concerns
The downside is the Google Analytics you're familiar with is going to go away. GA4 is a new platform with a new interface and new reports that you're going to have to learn.
And since GA4 measures things totally differently, you won't be able to migrate your existing data. Google has promised to keep your historical data until at least the end of 2023, but after that, it's likely going to be gone for good.
So what do you need to do?
Right now your top priority should be setting up GA4 to start collecting data. This can run alongside your current Universal Analytics without any interference. We highly recommend doing this before July 1st of this year so that you'll have a full year of historical data by the time the 2023 deadline comes around.
Longer term, you should spend some time familiarizing yourself with GA4 and the new platform. And if you use Google Analytics heavily, consider exporting some of your historical data as well.
At EZMarketing our goal is to make marketing easier for small businesses like yours, which is why we've already been setting up Google Analytics 4 for many of our clients.
If you have any questions about Google Analytics or marketing in general I invite you to come to our Free Marketing Fridays. It's an open Zoom call where you can ask any questions and get free marketing advice. Click on the link below to learn more.