You probably still use the older version of Google Analytics to understand your customer’s behavior, user experience, and many more. But Google has now introduced its latest version, and if you haven’t migrated to the newest one, you’re missing out on a lot.
Google also announced that if you’re using the older version, you would have to transition to Google Analytics 4, as they have made it mandatory. But is it really challenging to make this transition? A lot of questions might arise in your mind like:
Do I have to do this?
Is this process time-consuming?
What happens if I don’t?
Transitioning to GA4 on your website or app is easy, and it wouldn’t take you more than a few minutes, and let us remind you there’s a lot in this version. In this article, we’d be sharing with you the changes GA4 brings.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google Analytics that allows marketers to analyze customer usage metrics effectively. The main goal of Google Analytics 4 is to provide more data over the course of the entire customer journey. In other words, more information, such as a customer’s level of engagement, monetization, and retention, becomes available after they have been acquired.
Google Analytics, formerly known as “App+Web”, recently introduced GA4, a property that came out in October 2020. It allows you to measure traffic and engagement across your website and applications like the earlier version didn’t.
Benefits of Transitioning to GA 4.
- All-in-one app and web tracking
With this new version of Google Analytics, you can finally have it all in one place. There’s no need to track your website and mobile app separately. GA4 also helps you automatically pull out data from the website and app.
This is great news for anyone who has to use spreadsheet-based reporting, as this can save up to 50% of your formulas and pulls out data without repeating any steps.
- Bounce rate (UA) vs. engagement rate (GA4)
Bounce rate has been replaced in Google Analytics 4 with a metric called engagement rate, which gives you access to similar data about user behavior on your site.
Often known as a single-page session, a bounce rate (UA) is when a user lands on a website and exits without triggering any other request to the GA server. While on the other hand, the engagement rate is engaged sessions divided by the total number of sessions over a specific period of time.
As the bounce rate showed us, the percentage of sessions which were not engaged sessions, it’s known as the inverse of the Engagement rate.
To understand the difference between Bounce Rate and Engagement Rate, you can easily do so by going to the Supermetrics for Google Sheets, which allows you to extract data from the two sources and transfer it into a single spreadsheet.
- IP anonymization
Also known as IP masking, it is the process of sending a visitor’s IP address to Google Analytics servers by removing or masking the last octet of the IPv4 address (the last 80 bits for IPv6). Here’s an illustration;
Visitors IP: 22.214.171.124No manual action is necessary because IP anonymization is always enabled for GA4 properties as opposed to Universal Analytics, wherein we’d have to configure GA to anonymize IP addresses.
Masked IP: 126.96.36.199
- Landing page reports
In the earlier version of Google Analytics, you must be aware that we had the option to create reports which came under the ‘Customization’ option. In the newest version of Google Analytics, the previously known as custom report is replaced by ‘Exploration Report,’ which represents the data in a more dynamic layout.
However, with the new version, we’d have to make our own ‘Landing Page’ as GA4 doesn’t come with one. But the good news is that you can create your own landing page report.
In this, GA4 focuses on event-based tracking, which means it acquires all the data much like an event, which is more versatile than a pageview.
How to build a custom report in GA 4?
Let’s quickly understand.
- Navigate to the ‘Analysis’ point and click on the ‘Analysis Hub’.
- Begin by selecting ‘Exploration’ to create a report.
- Now, click on the plus size next to ‘Dimensions’ and enable the ‘Page Path + Query String’ dimension.
- Replace the current row with the ‘Page Path + Query String’ dimension.
- Remove the device category from ‘Columns’ and add the ‘Session’ one.
- Site Speed
As opposed to Universal Analytics, GA4 has removed behavior reports, which had things like site speed, landing pages, exit pages, and overview pages. Although, it doesn’t mean one cannot monitor and optimize site and page speed.
Q. How can you measure site speed in the latest version of Google Analytics?
A. By integrating Lighthouse with Google Analytics 4.
- The BigQuery Schema
The BigQuery Schema refers to the formatting and structuring of the GA4 data and the Firebase data, which is exported to BigQuery.
As opposed to Universal Analytics, the native connector’s schema is very different in GA4. Once you set up your schemas in GA4, it gets much easier to run SQL queries than before, as with this version, one can store data in a more neat format.
- Data Retention
This might not be good news as with GA4, but data will expire in the span of 14 months. For the user-level data including conversions in GA4, one can set data retention to a maximum of 14 months. For the other events, one can choose the length to 2 months or 14 months.
A good tip here would be to adjust the settings in GA4, as it’s by default set to two months.
Let’s discuss how one can change the data retention time frame in GA4:
- After signing into the GA4 account, go to the admin panel.
- Choose the analytics property you wish to change the setting for.
- Below property, click on Data Settings > Data retention.
- Select the retention period you wish to have.
- Click on user data on the new activity and turn it on.
- Save and Voila; you’ve changed the settings.
GA4 is the latest version of Google Analytics which comes with numerous benefits and invaluable insights that includes control over data, AI-driven insights, and cross-platform tracking. Transitioning to GA4 on your website or app is easy, and it wouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.