How to prepare yourself for Google Analytics 4 • Yoast

There’s a new Google Analytics coming to town and it’s time to get ready! This new Analytics will eventually replace the good old Universal Analytics as we know it. Although you can use your current Analytics for another year, we strongly recommend getting started with Google Analytics 4 right away. In this post, we’ll tell you a bit more about why you should get started now, what you can expect from Google Analytics 4 and how to get ready for it.

Over two and a half years ago, Google made its first mention of Google Analytics 4. The reasons for creating this new type of analytics are the changes and complexities that now come with collecting and analyzing data. People’s online journeys are becoming more complex (and spread out over several platforms or devices). In addition, privacy is becoming increasingly important in how you collect data. That’s why they’re introducing this new version of Google Analytics.

Why should you start up your Google Analytics 4 now?

You will be able to use Universal Analytics until July 1, 2023. From that day on, it will no longer process any data. But that doesn’t mean that you should wait until that date to create your new Google Analytics 4 property. We strongly advise you to create it now as this will allow you to start collecting data on your new property. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on that all-important historic data when you need to make the switch in July 2023.

It’s good to know that this new property can happily coexist with your current Analytics property. Getting started with Google Analytics 4 doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to use your Universal Analytics anymore. This property will continue to function and collect data until the data we mentioned above. But you will eventually have to make the switch, so let’s dive into what this new version of Analytics, formerly known as “App + Web” entails.

What to expect from Google Analytics 4

“Meet the next generation of Google Analytics”, that’s what Google says about this newest version. On their help center page they name a few advantages over Universal Analytics:

  • It’s durable for the future and privacy-focused
  • It uses machine learning to get you insights into customer journeys across platforms and devices
  • It has enhanced integrations with Google’s advertising platform to optimize campaign performance

Insight into a more complete customer journey

Get a grasp on the customer journey from A to Z, even when customers use multiple platforms and devices. This is especially interesting when you have both a website and an app. The customer journey will no longer be broken up by different platforms used or organized in different sessions. This gives you a better understanding of how the customer interacts with and moves through your website and/or app.

A necessary focus on user privacy

Sharing a lot of personal information online has become more and more normal through the years. To protect people’s data and help them understand how their data is being used, countries around the world have set up data protection laws. For the EU countries, for example, this is the GDPR. This new Analytics property comes with country-level privacy controls, to help you collect valuable data while making sure you comply with these privacy regulations.

In addition, Google Analytics 4 allows you to further customize who has access to what data. This ensures that different teams or external partners can access the data that they need. Without you having to give any access that isn’t in line with your company’s policy.

Predictive capabilities when it comes to user behavior

Thanks to its machine learning models, Google can use your data to predict future actions that your audience may take. Google Analytics 4 comes with two predictive metrics that make this possible. The first one is purchase probability, which predicts the likelihood that users who have visited your app or site will purchase something in the next seven days. The second one is churn probability, which predicts how likely it is that recently active users will not visit your app or site in the next seven days. These predictive metrics can help you reach the right people with the right message and through the right channel.

Improved interaction with other Google services

This new property comes with improved integrations with other Google services. Services like Google Ads, Search Ads 360 and Display & Video 360. You might be wondering what you can do with this. Well, it actually makes it way easier to use your Analytics data to optimize your advertising campaigns. This improved interaction allows you to make informed decisions that can boost your traffic and sales, based on real insights.

Improve your marketing efforts with data-driven attribution

This new property uses data-driven attribution to give you an idea of the impact of individual marketing activities. Data-driven attribution comes down to what contribution each interaction brings to conversion outcomes. So, this model calculates the effect of your marketing activities and helps you figure out which paths you can improve. It actually determines which touchpoints are most likely to drive conversions. You can also export this data to Google Ads to optimize your ad campaigns.

How to prepare yourself…

There’s no way around it, eventually, Universal Analytics will be replaced by Google Analytics 4. Google actually encourages people to set up this new property (alongside your current one) as soon as they can. So how can you prepare yourself? We’ll discuss how to set it up when you’re already using Analytics. But also how to set it up when you’re not using Analytics yet.

When you’re already using Analytics

The very first step is to create a Google Analytics 4 property for your website. This can be done from your Google Analytics account. Setting up this new property doesn’t mean that you’ll lose access to your current analytics setup. This setup will remain the same and functional. The new property will collect its data next to your existing property and you’ll be able to access them both.

To help you set up your new property, Google has actually introduced a GA4 Setup Assistant wizard. To use this wizard, you will need to have an editor role on your Google Analytics account. The steps on how to get to this wizard, are thoroughly described on Google’s page on how to add a Google Analytics 4 property (to a site that already has Analytics).

When you’ve created your new property, there are a few more things you can do to make sure that you’re getting the most out of it. As we said, this new version is focused on giving you more insight into the complex customer journey and improving your marketing efforts. Google’s page on how to make the switch to Google Analytics 4 gives a great overview of what you can do to properly set up Google Analytics 4. If you want to learn even more, you can take their Skillshop Course to discover what’s new with Google Analytics.

When you’re new to Analytics

If you aren’t using Analytics yet, and this feels like a good moment to get started, you will have to start with setting up an account. You can do this by going to google.com/analytics and clicking ‘Get started today’. When you’ve logged in, you can go to Admin (the cogwheel in the bottom left corner) and click the blue button ‘Create Account’ in the top left corner. You will need to set an account name and decide on what data you will want to share with other Google services.

After that, you click ‘Next’ and add a property to your new account. Google explains how to do this on their page on setting up Analytics for a website and/or app. After you’ve set up your new account and property, you can start getting familiar with Analytics and dive into the data to get more insights into your site visitors and their behavior. Of course, it can be overwhelming at first. But you can find loads of information and training in Google’s training and support section. Or check out our blog posts on Google Analytics to learn more and get started.

To summarize

Although you can still use your Universal Analytics property until the 1st of July, 2023, it pays off to already add a GA4 property to your account. This helps you get used to this new way of analyzing your data and it comes with new features that give you more insight into your audience and the performance of your marketing campaigns. Adding this new Analytics property won’t change anything in your current Analytics set up, you’ll be able to use and view both properties until July 2023. After that, your old property won’t process any new data and you will have to make the switch to Google Analytics 4. So start right away and get the most out of this new version of Google Analytics!


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