4 GA4 Features That Can Help You Make Better Data-Driven Decisions

September 6, 2023
September 6, 2023 Kris Irizawa

4 GA4 Features That Can Help You Make Better Data-Driven Decisions

After being introduced back in 2020, Google’s new analytics platform — GA4 — is finally the official Google Analytics platform, replacing Universal Analytics. For marketers striving to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing, this news means it’s time to bid farewell to Universal Analytics and welcome GA4 as the brand-new way to measure website performance.

While shifting from one analytics platform to another may seem daunting at first, we’re here to help with all you need to know about what makes Google Analytics 4 different and why now is the perfect time to get used to it.

Why Google sunsetted Universal Analytics and introduced GA4

As an essential component of marketing analytics, Universal Analytics has helped businesses of all sizes to track, measure, and analyze their online user behavior. However, with the increased demand for more advanced and efficient analytics tools, Google has introduced the GA4 (Google Analytics 4) platform.

The transition to GA4 was driven by several reasons, including the need for a unified approach to web and mobile app analytics, a deeper understanding of the customer journey, and better integration with other Google tools.

With its enhanced machine learning capabilities, cross-device tracking, and customer-centric approach, GA4 promises to provide businesses with the insights needed to improve their marketing strategies and drive better ROI.

Google sunsetted Universal Analytics at the end of June 2023 (except for GA360 users). This move left many marketers scratching their heads, given the drastic changes made to the user interface and how tracking shifted to event-based tracking.

GA4 comes equipped with a host of improvements and added functionality that will provide businesses with a better understanding of consumer behavior, and the ability to track trends and make smarter business decisions. While change can be daunting, sometimes it’s necessary to keep up with the times and remain competitive in the world of digital marketing.

Benefits of using GA4

Align measures across browsers and mobile apps.

Google Analytics 4 allows businesses to measure and analyze user engagement across web, Android, and iOS properties in one place. This will help marketers have a unified view of their customers and maximize cross-platform ROI.

In GA4, the concept of “views” has been eliminated, and “data streams” have been adopted. Data streams are the core of a GA4 property, and they allow marketers to pull data from multiple sources into one centralized environment. This ensures that all analytics are aligned across platforms such as web, iOS and Android, giving businesses the ability to monitor user engagement, compare results between different channels, and optimize for better performance.

GA4 enables user-level identification through cookie-less tracking

Google Analytics 4 allows marketers to track users without the need for cookies. This is a huge advantage, especially in terms of privacy compliance, as it ensures that user data remains anonymous and secure.

Tracking without cookies means Google is also taking advantage of additional methods to identify individual users across browsers and devices. GA4 enables businesses to collect more meaningful insights at the user level, whereas traditionally Universal Analytics relied on session or pageview-based tracking.

GA4 provides valuable insights into user interactions across different devices on your app or website. To utilize this feature, you’ll need to generate unique IDs and associate them with your users. These IDs should be included when sending data to analytics.

With GA4, all the collected data is consolidated to create a unified journey for each user. Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 automatically performs this consolidation without requiring a separate User ID.

To effectively track users across both your app and website, it’s crucial to use the same identifier. Make sure the User ID value remains consistent (either a string or an integer) in both the app and web versions of your site.

In addition to cookies and User ID, Google signals are valuable session data that are collected from websites and apps when users sign in to their Google accounts. This data is then linked to these signed-in users and is used to support cross-device reporting, cross-device remarketing, and cross-device conversion export to Google Ads. This allows Google to aggregate the data at an individual level despite how the data may find the individual across multiple devices, browsers, etc.

Event-based tracking with GA4

Events are the individual actions that users perform when they’re on your website or mobile app. For example, events can include clicking links, submitting forms, or playing videos.

In Universal Analytics, there are three components for an event: Category, Action, and Label. But with Google Analytics 4, all events have the same format (called a “hit”) and do not have those three components.

This means that reports in Universal Analytics will show information about Category, Action, and Label for events but in Google Analytics 4 they don’t show this information.

With event-based tracking, it is more flexible and granular. You can track any interaction that a user has with your website or app, not just pageviews. This gives GA4 users a more complete view of the user journey.

Also, event-based tracking is more future-proof. As the way people interact with websites and apps continues to evolve, event-based tracking will be able to adapt to those changes. Pageview-based tracking, on the other hand, is more limited to web browser-based interactions.

Better attribution reporting with Data-Driven Attribution

Google Analytics 4 features the new Data-Driven Attribution (DDA) model which provides more accurate attribution for user activities across multiple platforms.

This model relies on Machine Learning algorithms to calculate attribution values based on data collected in real-time, instead of using a predetermined formula. With DDA, you can track users across different channels and devices and get insights into user conversions.

DDA is effective when a business is investing in multi-channel advertising and needs to track user activities across channels. DDA will help you understand which channels are the most effective for your business and where to invest in ad spending.

Tips for getting the most out of GA4

If you are using Google Analytics 4, you are on the right track to better understanding your website’s data. However, to truly make the most out of this tool, there are a few tips you should keep in mind.

First, take advantage of the new event tracking system that GA4 offers – this will allow you to track user behavior and specific actions taken on your website.

Additionally, utilize custom dimensions, standard events, conversion events, and other new measures to create reports tailored specifically to your business needs.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment with the new interface – GA4 offers a sleek and modern look that can be customized and optimized to your liking. The new custom report generation feature is called “User Explore”.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to making the most out of GA4 and gaining valuable insights about your website’s performance.

Final thoughts

Google has officially ended Universal Analytics and GA4 has come into the market with more accurate user-level reporting and attribution reporting that will help marketers better understand their multi-channel acquisition strategies.

While this transition may be daunting at first, it’s worth taking advantage of GA4’s features to gain more customer insights and make more informed marketing decisions. It’s an exciting time for digital marketing, and everyone should look forward to seeing what Google comes up with next.

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