Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
According to Google, on July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties, the analytics that you've been using for years and to which you have become accustomed, will no longer process data. You'll be able to see your Universal Analytics reports for a period of time after the cutoff date, however, new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties. Website owners will no longer able to track visitors to their site, and because the way that "goals" are tracked, they will no longer know whether website or app visitors are being converted into buyers.
Introduction to Google Analytics 4
Change is always hard, but I do think this is a change for the better, and anyway it's happening so it's necessary to adapt to this new way of doing things. GA4 provides a lot more data and it's more customizable, meaning that you can track what matters to you, not only what Google thinks might matter. GA4 is the next generation of Analytics which works on an event based principle, rather than the session based methods of old, and it's better at collecting data from both websites and apps.
Cross-platform tracking enables you to view the complete customer journey, from the point of acquisition, through the engagement process and finally conversion. So you can use GA4 to track the user experience from start to finish, from platform to platform and from device to device.
How To Set Up GA4
Configuring GA4 is actually as simple as a few clicks. When you're done, the analytics property you are familiar with will be left unchanged, continuing to collect data (until July 1st). Your UA view will continue to be accessible via the admin screen. This guide assumes that you are making use of Google Tag Manager, if you aren't doing so I highly recommend that you ask your developer to set it up. If not, there will be a guide for setting up GA4 without using GTM to follow.
Steps For Configuring GA4:
1). Login to your Google Analytics Account.
2). Click Admin > Gear icon (bottom left navigation).
3). Confirm that your desired account is selected.
4). Confirm the desired property is selected.
5). Click GA4 Setup Assistant, the first option in the Property column.
6). Once inside the Setup Wizard, click the large blue button, Get Started.
7). The last step is to click the blue button to Create property.
Set Up GA4 With Google Tag Manager
You will still need to add GA4 Configuration tag in Google Tag Manager. There are only three steps: creating a trigger, creating a tag, and testing. It's outside the scope of this guide to explain the GTM setup, but I will create a post about that if there is a demand. However there are a lot of posts out there on the subject, Googling the topic will return loads of resources.
Google Analytics 4 works on an "events" based principle, after creating your property, the setup assistant will automatically activate enhanced measurement in your Google Analytics 4 property. Custom code, which is made much easier if you use Google Tag Manager, is still needed to track third-party elements and goals, now called "conversions", form submissions, phone calls, emails etc. But the most basic forms of event tracking are automatic and ready to go.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, Google is planning to discontinue traditional analytics on July 1st, 2023, so it's vital to get Analytics 4 setup now, so that it has historical data on the cutoff date. Not to mention the fact that all flow of data to the old analytics will stop on that date. I hope you found this basic guide useful, don't hesitate to drop me a message or email if you need any help at all setting up Google Tag Manager or Analytics 4.