Editor’s note: This article was published February 2023 in anticipation of Google’s transition from Google Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. It was updated January 2024 to remain relevant for those working with or considering GA4 and other website analytics tools.
Digital analytics help us understand how our digital marketing efforts are performing, enabling us to pivot as needed. One popular tool, Google Analytics, helps measure website performance, giving us the ability to make educated decisions about where to invest or divest. It also helps in understanding what resonates with website visitors. Already a proven plug-in used by most, the latest version provides even greater reporting features, but its adoption was slow.
What is GA4?
GA4 is the next-generation analytics platform from Google that replaced the older Google Universal Analytics. Although launched in October of 2020, only 2.8 million accounts were using GA4 in 2021, meaning 38 million accounts were still using Universal Analytics. The transition to GA4 sped up when it was announced Universal Analytics would stop tracking data at the end of June 2023. GA4 only starts tracking data the moment you add the tracking code to your website, so those who made the switch after June 2023 lost access to a portion of their data.
Benefits of GA4
To best understand the benefits of GA4, it is important to look at website analytics from a holistic standpoint. In essence, go back to the basics and outline your strategy. To have a clear understanding of the site’s goal as well as the visitor’s journey on the website. Having a good digital marketing plan in place is key when looking at your website metrics. When thinking about your strategy, consider these questions about your website:
Why do we have a website?
What is the purpose of our website?
Who are the people for whom we are creating this content?
What is our customer journey on our website?
Once you create your digital marketing strategy, you will then be able to focus on the entire visitor’s journey by understanding the acquisition, engagement and retention of your audience while they are on the website. Having a clear vision of what the objectives, metrics, targets and the channel strategies are and why they are important is key to utilizing GA4. Google Analytics helps us see all this information, analyze it and then make smart decisions for what makes our website perform efficiently and effectively. Building on these core concepts, Google Analytics then helps answer the following questions:
Where is our website traffic coming from?
Which channels are working, which are not?
What happens once that customer comes to the website?
o What are the customer's behavior patterns?
o What is the customer's experience?
o What type of content are they engaging in?
o Where do they enter; where do they exit?
o How much time are they spending on your website?
Ready to start your digital marketing journey? AOE offers cutting-edge technology services to help you design and implement your own digital marketing strategy. Reach out today to schedule a free demo and consultation.
AOE VP of Operations and Marketing Services Amy Numbers sits down with AOE Marketing Manager Janice Clines to discuss this tool in more detail. Watch now!