Google Analytics 4: What is GA4 and Why Do We Need to Prepare Now? (Business Owner’s Perspective)

If you are a business that relies upon online marketing to get sales and leads for your business, then its safe to assume that you must be using Google Analytics to track customer journey on your webshop and the effectiveness of various marketing channels (If you are not, then here is an article to help you understand why you should be using Google Analytics)
Google Analytics is changing and it's for good. You must have come across the following message when you login into your GA account.

So what does it mean?

You won’t be able to use your current Google Analytics (UA) property (Universal Analytics/Google Analytics 3) to track customer journeys effectively and optimize your sales and marketing spent and effort beginning July 1, 2023

Why is Google doing this? Why!

As you must have observed, there has been a lot of uproar and discussion around Internet User Privacy rights post the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. This has led to policy implementations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and updates like iOS 14.1. All these changes have limited the capabilities of the current tracking (consumer behavior data collection) mechanism used by platforms like Google Analytics.
It basically means that the current Universal Analytics is unable to provide you with as great consumer insights as it did earlier.

So, then what? Will we not be able to track consumer behavior? Will we not be able to run efficient online marketing campaigns?

The answer is both “Yes” and “No”. Customer tracking still exists but the number of data points and effectiveness of tracking has moved from being absolute to being probabilistic (Guesswork)!! This makes it all the more critical to have super-sophisticated AI models trained around your business to be able to make better guesses about consumer behavior.

GA4 is Google’s answer to all of our tracking problems. Its advanced tracking infrastructure and AI models (once trained with sufficient data) have the best and most accurate guesses that bring back the joy in marketing. You can track customers and improve your online marketing campaigns.

GA4 seems like a solution that solves my tracking problem, can you tell me more about what it does? What things do I need to keep in mind?

Value from GA4 can be extracted in 3 parts:

  • Moving from the vintage UA format of tracking to GA4 tracking which allows for more granular level tracking of customer interactions with your webshop (app shop)
  • Its AI models, once trained with sufficient data, will be able to perfectly guess which customers have come from which channel thereby allowing digital marketing campaigns to be effectively optimized leading to higher ROI
  • Support for you to own your customer’s data. No need to be dependent on Google and Facebook to hold your customer's data. With the new rollout, you can store your customer information on your server
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Will marketing campaigns start performing better once I move to GA4?

The answer is Yes, but only once there has been enough data to train the AI models. But the catch here is that your old UA data cannot be used to train the GA4 models to make effective predictions and it needs to start all over again.

So, what about my consumer data until now?

Unfortunately, due to the completely different data framework structures your UA property data cannot be migrated to your GA4 property.

No one wants to lose all the data they have accumulated over the last few years. With the sunsetting of UA, a lot of businesses face the challenge of losing out on years of precious data about their customers.

You can migrate all of this data onto separate server databases such as Google Cloud, AWS, Azure, etc., and keep it safe for you as per the GDPR policies. You can build custom easy-to-use dashboards on platforms like Google Data Studio, Tableau, and PowerBI to extract customer data insights.

So what should I do? There is still time till July 1, 2023, to use UA. Hence, I can set up GA4 later as well, right?

We strongly recommend that you implement a change to GA4 as soon as possible. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the dashboard and all the options available for tracking data. Also, the sooner you switch, the more data you will have stored in your new GA4 property. This switch will let us gather as much historical data and usage in the new experience as possible, preparing you for when Universal Analytics is no longer available. It shall also provide sufficient time and data to be populated in your GA4 platform to run AI-based attribution models over various events ensuring consistency in your results and tracking.

Key Timeline Milestones, you should remember

  • Until July 1st, 2023, you are still able to use and collect new traffic data in your existing Universal Analytics UA property
  • After July 1st, 2023, for six months you can access historical data in your Universal Analytics property. It is recommended that you export your historical reports during this period as you may not be able to access them after the six-month grace period
  • Until October 1st, 2023, you will still be able to use and collect new traffic data in your existing Universal Analytics 360 property
  • By January 2024, existing data on Universal Analytics UA properties will no longer be available.

Get in touch with us

Don’t worry about making a large commitment without knowing much about what we can offer. Book a call with us, help us understand your business and then we’ll offer you a free ad account audit and an actionable marketing strategy. Like the strategy? Hire us! Don’t want to hire us? No problem. The strategy is on us!
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Best Part?

Are you a digital business looking to win the BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) this Thanksgiving? Get in touch with us and we’ll send over a free guide on the best BFCM myth-busters!

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