Any business operating today can de considered a digital one, which makes data and the effective use thereof all the more important. It is part of the reason why Google Analytics remains the gold standard as far as reporting and insights go for any website.
It is why the recent announcement of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) could prove pivotal for many a business moving forward, but with some confusion as to what this latest iteration of the statistics tool features, the value value may still be an unknown for some.
This is where Google Marketing Platform partner, Incubeta, aims to offer some advice and expertise.
Jade Arenstein, head of data strategy and analytics, and Darren Vrede, business development and customer value manager at Incubeta, recently looked at how the GA4 upgrade affects local businesses, along with some timely advice for marketing leaders.
How it came to be
The first element the pair look at is why this new version of Google Analytics came to the fore.
“Google has developed GA4 largely in response to the increased focus on privacy, especially regulations like GDPR and POPI, but also a hat-tip to an age where cookies are significantly limited,” they explain.
“This fourth version of Analytics also showcases the many opportunities that come with machine learning and addresses cross platform and cross device attribution. Having a full view of a customer journey and predictive marketing features at your disposal means that marketers have access to more information and can build and target more complex audiences from a single analytics platform,” the pair adds.
Next is highlighting what the change in this iteration will require. On this front GA4 is designed to be far more user-centric than GA Universal, according to Incubeta, with more reliance on your website to generate IDs to recognise a user.
“However, in many cases, establishing user IDs will require development work. Marketing leaders should begin scoping this requirement sooner rather than later,” the executives emphasise.
Another important point touched on, is which kinds of businesses GA4 will impact. There is apparently a misconception that website with apps are the only ones affected, but this is not the case.
“One of the biggest industry misconceptions around GA4 is that it only applies to those businesses which are running apps. While GA4 is an expansion and rebrand of App + Web, this implementation and the necessary action required also applies to those who only have websites,” warns the pair.
Steps to be taken
With a better understanding of how this iteration came to be, as well as who it impacts, the next thing businesses need to know is when they need to start making changes.
On this front, things become a little trickier, especially as no specific date has been outlined as to when the features of the older version of Google Analytics will fall away.
Regardless, Incubeta advises acting as quickly as possible.
“Upgrades need to happen sooner than many may think. While Google hasn’t given a firm date when old properties will fall away, we foresee this to be within the next two years – much sooner than others in the industry have predicted,” they say.
It’s worth noting that GA4 is evolving almost on a daily basis. While this means there are great new features and improvements being added, it is causing some discomfort with some users, especially those who may not have been that comfortable with Google Analytics,” adds Incubeta.
This means that additional training will almost certainly be necessary, in the company’s view, with it already working to roll that out for its own clients.
“Working with Google over the past months, we have been privy to their GA4 roadmap. Not only is there a lot more planned for the rest of this year, but the additions and improvements for 2021 are significant. For this reason we recommend that clients take immediate action, but not make the switch just yet,” says Incubeta.
“Rather, we have recommended that clients implement dual tagging where you run your existing property with GA4 running in the background, collecting data,” the pair note.
Once the dual tagging process is in place, it will allow businesses more accurate data on which to make decisions, and ultimately the switch.
Preparation is key
“Finally, as with any major platform changes, those who take action early are likely to benefit most. Ensuring you and your teams are comfortable with the new property and confident your data is unmuddied, will mean a smoother switchover and the best chance to benefit from the greatly improved power of GA4,” concludes Incubeta.
If Google Analytics is a key part of how your business operates, having an understanding of this latest iteration will prove crucial if you plan to make the most moving forward.