20 Jul Google Analytics 4 – What You Need to Know
In a world increasingly awash with large volumes of data, it’s hard to know how best to collect that information, particularly in a format that allows you to review the data, spot trends, and make informed business decisions. At Stitchcraft Marketing, we encourage our clients to take advantage of Google Analytics. Today we’re going to make a case for why you should be using Google Analytics if you aren’t already, explore what changes are coming in the next year, and give you some tips on ensuring your data tracking is seamless.
Why use Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a FREE tool that can give you enormous insight into your website’s performance. Once you register for an account, Google Analytics provides a snippet of code you can install on your website (many platforms have widgets where you just need to add the website ID number that Google Analytics assigns). This allows Google Analytics to track all sorts of data about who accesses your website, how they are finding you (also called referrals), what pages they view the most, how they move through your site, and many more data points. You can then review this data periodically and use it to expand your understanding of customer behavior, create more targeted marketing campaigns, improve your search engine optimization (SEO) and return on investment (ROI), and build innovative ideas for the future.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of how you can use Google Analytics to improve your marketing. Posting on social media sometimes feels a bit nebulous, without a concrete ROI. Using Google Analytics, you can measure traffic to your website from social media. How many times do your social media posts encourage potential customers to visit your website? How long do they spend on your website when they get there? What pages do they view? How often do they make a purchase? Based on this data, you could spend more time promoting the products with the most popular pages on your social media. Or you can learn which social media platform works best for you. If Facebook generates three times the referral traffic your other social media sites do, now you know where to focus your efforts.
You can also use this data to focus on your SEO. If you’re writing blog posts, which are the most popular? Can you make improvements to these posts so that they rank even higher in Google search results, ensuring your website shows up closer to the top of the page?
If you’d like to learn more about how you can use all of this data to make business decisions, check out this session of Office Hours we held last year discussing how crafty business owners can use Google Analytics and Google Search.
What’s changing with Google Analytics?
If you are already using Google Analytics, you likely have a Universal Analytics account. This account is still functioning as before, but in April, Google announced that it will stop collecting data as of July 1, 2023, and will likely retire the service entirely (meaning no more access to historical data) by the end of 2023. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will take its place.
Although they bear the same name, Google Analytics and GA4 are actually different platforms. GA4 will begin collecting data as soon as you set it up, which means you’ll have a runway where both platforms are collecting data. This means you will have time to work out any problems and ensure that you’re working with data that is seamless.
GA4 is Google’s response to an ever changing world wide web. While websites of the past were often landing pages, or simple store fronts, websites now host a variety of dynamic content, media files, and different ways customers can interact with them. Add to that changing data privacy regulations, increasing numbers of devices being used to access websites, and Universal Analytics just can’t keep up. So GA4 is an entirely new platform built to enter the next era.
What should I do?
Luckily, Google has given businesses plenty of notice, as they now have almost a year to get started with GA4. This article from Social Media Examiner shares a lot of the ways GA4 is different from Universal Analytics, and suggests some things you might want to think about as you start to transition.
You can also start the migration to GA4 on your own using this handy checklist put together by Google. Google has provided lots of documentation on how to build a new account and start tracking the data that is most important to your business.
If you’d like help with the migration, we’ll be working with someone who can provide that help to you – contact us today to get on the list!