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UA vs GA4: Why Marketers Need To Switch?
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UA vs GA4: Why Marketers Need To Switch?

Since March 2022, when Google announced the “retirement” date of Universal Analytics, there has been an outrage regarding the loss of the reliable reporting tool. Digital marketers, SEOs, analysts, bloggers, agencies, small business owners, e-commerce store owners, app developers, and many more have expressed panic about the loss. 

So, what is all the fuss about? Why are people on the internet upset about bidding farewell to Universal Analytics in July 2023? 

When a new technology comes along, it makes sense to be upset about losing something familiar. One of the main reasons why people are panicking about Universal Analytics going away is that they cannot migrate their data from UA to GA4. Imagine not being able to refer back to the analytics on your website from 5-10 years ago. So, if you fail to switch to GA4, you will lose your past data AND be unable to track new hits. Oh, the horror! 

It’s high time marketers stop crying about the loss and start becoming friends with the new kid on the block, Google Analytics 4. GA4 is a brilliant opportunity to up your analytics game. (Well, there is not much choice out there anyway. Because there aren’t many alternative free analytics tools for GA4.)

Why Should I Switch to GA4?

What is GA4?

GA4 is the future! GA4 is, as Google calls it, an upgrade of Google Analytics. Launched in October 2020, it is more than just an upgrade. It is a total re-platforming. GA4 provides marketers with details about the consumer’s journey when they browse through websites, apps, and devices. In addition, GA4 is a tool used to analyze and measure conversion. 

Google bought Firebase several years ago. Firebase is a mobile analytics platform and app analytics platform. GA4 will track both web and app analytics in one place. Integrating our business data sources is the only way to observe and respond to the customer. This will help us understand what and how the consumers or anyone is doing on the web. In addition, GA4 will include privacy controls, for example, cookieless measurement. 

Data ownership is essential. Google’s been behind when compared to other analytics systems on this front. We need to own the data to have a clear view of the customer, comply with privacy, and integrate data at a business level. GA4 will solve this problem.

Benefits of Google Analytics:  

Here are some great reasons why marketers need to switch from UA to GA4: 

  1. Google Analytics will answer important questions: Who is visiting your site, what are they looking for, and how did they arrive at your website. Switching to GA4 will give you more insights into what people do when they visit your site or app. 
  2. With GA4, you can track across both your web and your app in one reporting environment. . Unlike previously, we used Google Analytics for our website tracking and Firebase for app tracking. 
  3. GA4 has enhanced measurements based on events such as scrolling and outbound link clicks, document link clicks, and website searches. Previously, anything other than the basic events had to be set up manually in GA for tracking. Marketers can analyze more without requiring developers to help you set everything up as a custom event. 
  4. Pathways: You can better visualize the customer journey and understand the flow users take on your website. With GA4, you can better learn about how customers reach your final conversion point. While analyzing, you can also work backward from a conversion point and build the conversion journey. GA4 detects and can provide alerts about significant trends such as more product demand due to customer needs dynamics. We can also use it to predict future events that your visitors might be interested in taking. 
  5. Custom reports have become more user-friendly. You can choose segments to work with and add dimensions and metrics. 
  6. You can expect GA4 to collect more data than Universal Analytics. In Universal Analytics, we had to upgrade to GA360 to get raw data. And let’s accept that it was kind of pricey. GA4 is offering a free BigQuery export. This means you can export raw event-level data for free to BigQuery. A big help to people whose work involves data. 
  7. With GA4, you can review your entire tracking setup and dig deeper if what you have matches your strategic KPI and not just web traffic.

What does GA4 Mean for Marketers?

Many marketers are dreading the idea of GA4 because:

  • They will have to learn how to analyze data in a new way, especially if they are used to Universal Analytics.  
  • You cannot migrate old data for the past years to GA4 from UA. 
  • Agencies/marketers may have multiple people in their team who would have to learn to navigate GA4. 
  • Marketers would like to provide their services to their clients as before. But at the same time, they will also have to manage their time learning and implementing changes in their procedures to account for the new data. 

However, it is high time marketers get the hang of GA4. The sooner, the better they will have a competitive advantage in digital marketing

What marketers can do right now to solve the issues due to GA4:

Firstly there is no need to panic. GA4 will gradually make things easier for marketers in the long run. Here’s a list of some things that you can do right now:

  • Agencies and marketers should start setting up GA4 already. Failure to start now will cause issues in the year-over-year comparison data afterward. Setting up GA4 doesn’t mean that you have to let go of UA right now. You have to, instead, stay with UA and run both analytics at the same time. 
  • Marketers have to start a data archive if they haven’t already. 
  • Next year your team will have to do their web analytics analysis with the GA4 interface. It is pretty different from the Google Analytics Universal interface. So, start training your teams about how to navigate the GA4 interface
  • Many of your clients will be unaware of the significant changes to the analytics report you provide at this stage. But, as a marketer, you must prepare early to stay competitive in your field. You and your team should have a proper project management plan for every client’s migration of their analytics accounts. 
  • If you have GA4 implemented, you should turn on the BigQuery.integration. It won’t cost any money except for the storage of the query. 
  • Make plans to extract the Universal Analytics data before your access to that data goes away in July 2023. 

Key Takeaways:

Google Analytics 4 or GA4 is the latest generation of Google Analytics that is replacing its predecessor, Universal Analytics, or UA. With UA officially sunsetting in July 2023, users who aren’t accustomed to GA4 will need to familiarize themselves with it. 

To summarize, GA4 is easier and more powerful than GA. It lowers the barrier for marketers to use their marketing data. However, don’t just switch right over from GA to GA4. We recommend that you run both interfaces simultaneously. However, keep in mind that GA4 is where Google is spending its time, energy, and money to improve.