Evolving with Analytics and What You Need to Know about GA4

Key Takeaways:
Google’s Universal Analytics has become obsolete.

Upgrading to Google Analytics 4 will allow businesses to get greater value from the data they collect.

The new software is easier for beginners, has higher ROI potential, and increases privacy for consumers.

Google Analytics 4 shows the full story of the path through your funnel with cross-platform reporting.

Data-driven marketing has become an indispensable resource for small business owners, regardless of their industry. A flower shop owner wants to see what their demographic actually looks like. A fine-dining restaurant needs to understand if their website stacks up to competitors. A jeweler must have an idea of what their conversion rates say about their sales. No matter your business or brand, utilizing analytics is an essential (and unavoidable) part of your marketing strategy. This is more of a recap than any sort of breaking news, but it’s important to understand where big data began before we get to where it’s going.

If you’ve tracked your analytics from early on, you might have gotten the vibe that things are changing. Consumer behavior has outgrown the outdated models of data; to put it simply, what you’re collecting from your customers may not be helping your marketing efforts as much as it used to. One element of this is due to multi-platform engagement and the majority of clientele moving to mobile. Another aspect is we are getting more data than we know what to do with.

You don’t have to be a data geek to grasp the fact that SEO powerhouses will respond to customer needs and try to get one step ahead of a trend. The first one to do so might be fairly predictable: our good friends at Google. Last month, Google announced that they will bid adieu to Universal Analytics beginning in July of 2023 with final processing of hits ending in October of the same year.

It Was Fun While It Lasted:
Why Universal Analytics Has Got to Go

Google’s Director of Product Management elaborated on the company’s reasoning for sunsetting on UA when they first shared the news: “Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies. This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.”

That statement perfectly explains things to analytics fanatics (like us), but might not say much to the average Joe (you know the guy, staring blankly at his website traffic, wondering what it all means). Don’t worry, this is the stuff we live for helping our customers with. The switch to Google Analytics 4 marks a monumental shift in the world of data and SEO. Forbes article dove into the current state of business intelligence without naming Google; the article broached the subject of needing more from our data. The desktop-minded Universal Analytics gave us the Who and What with demographics and timed sessions; Google Analytics gives us insight into the “why” behind your consumer’s moves.

Google Analytics 4 is an entirely new product, not an iteration of the Universal Analytics system which was launched back in November of 2005. Think of what the world wide web looked like at that time, just five years after Y2K; we were using dial-up to hop on AOL Instant Messenger and scrolling through MySpace. Though Universal Analytics was phenomenal at changing with the waves of technological developments (that never seem to stop crashing down), the software couldn’t keep up with consumers. Google knew that it had to develop something as intelligent as users in a way that would benefit businesses; Google Analytics 4 will honor the legend that was Universal Analytics while offering the data dilemma we’ve been waiting to solve.

“Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies,” Russell Ketchum, director, product management at Google, said in the announcement. “This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.”


Gearing Up for Google Analytics 4:
The Newest Normal in Data

We first heard about Google Analytics 4 over two years ago; it was brought onto the scene to better assist businesses in understanding their data to make informed decisions. In March of 2022, Google decided that the software will be a standard rather than a choice and they’re confident businesses will be happy with saying farewell to Universal Analytics. There are tons of improvements that will come with the software, and that goes for your customers as well as your company. You will be able to offer your consumers more privacy while delivering a better overall product. Google Analytics 4 takes a lot of the mystery out of digital marketing and ultimately creates a more meaningful experience for everyone involved.

Google says privacy is a pivotal part of the new product. Universal Analytics had privacy controls, but Google Analytics 4 has completely changed the game. Users are used to their information being used to target them in sometimes alarming ways. Consumers have become increasingly aware of how different platforms capture their details and turn around to market at them, not to them. Google Analytics 4 will squash this uncomfortable part of analytics by opting not to store IP addresses. In addition, businesses will be better equipped to use the information they receive from their customers and really get to the nitty gritty of their processes.

“The benefit of these event-based recordings is that it allows for cross-device reporting. Universal Analytics had limited support for cross-device reporting and usually required roll-up reporting to support it.”

-Phil Strazzulla for DataBox.com

Instilling a sense of trust and transparency is key in building deeper relationships with your consumers. You want their data to assist you in understanding the stories of who these people are, rather than looking at your market on a mass-level. Upgrading to GA4 will give your business the opportunity to revolve your marketing around your reporting instead of scrambling to make sense of it all. Google Analytics operates in an event-based manner rather than session-based. Google’s Ketchum said businesses will, “get a complete view of the customer lifecycle with an event-based measurement model that isn’t fragmented by platform or organized into independent sessions.”

The new model records any user engagement (page views, transactions, and social interactions) as an “event”; UA’s system records session-based interactions (grouping user engagements within a certain time frame). The most important difference between the two lies in functionality: GA4 allows for cross-device reporting while UA does not. Databox.com spoke with Phil Strazzulla from Select Software Reviews who went into further detail about what this data will do for digital marketing. It will essentially solve a major disconnect that existed when businesses looked at their data. The numbers didn’t bring in the bigger picture, but rather broke up traffic and interactions in a way that didn’t tell the full story. Having access cross-platform insights will show companies how their consumers operate across sites (and more importantly, through their funnels).


It’s More Than Crunching Numbers:
How TTG Can Help

We know it can be hard keeping your head above water on the web. Technology Therapy’s team works to provide a hub of easily digestible information for your business with solutions to help you get started. We thrive off of developing new tools that work with technology trends and then showing you what that means for the future of your business. Whether you have questions about digital journey or want to make sure that you’re up-to-date with your digital strategies, Technology Therapy is here to lend an ear or a helping hand. As Ferris Bueller once said, “The internet moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” We may have updated the quote, but you get it.