This October, Google made a major announcement for anyone interested in website performance: the launch of Google Analytics 4.0, changing the way businesses can analyze their online traffic and ultimately improve their return on investment.
Google Analytics is generally considered to be the largest analytics platform in the world, with millions of active users around the globe. For years, it had evolved based on the same underlying concept and platform. But Analytics 4.0 is introducing some new features that could be key for businesses looking to make better business and marketing decisions.
Of course, it’s also complex. In the launch announcement, Google VP Vidhya Srinivasan encouraged businesses to set up a new Analytics 4.0 property alongside their existing setup, to allow for some familiarization and implementation without losing existing reports. Now, two months into the launch, it’s time to take a closer look.
Join me for that exploration, focusing on 5 powerful features new to Google Analytics 4.0 to help you improve your data game.
1. Closer Integration With Google Ads
Experienced marketers may be familiar with the frustration of trying to incorporate insights from Google Ads (search as well as display) into an Analytics instance. With the launch of 4.0, that is beginning to change.
Custom audiences are a core feature within the new Analytics setup. Marketers can now build audience groups, developed from behaviors across both web and mobile app properties, and use them as target audiences for Google Ads. And because Google Analytics 4.0 tracks across web and apps, ad conversions can now measure across both properties as well.
Let’s use an example to illustrate that process. Say someone visits your pricing page or the pricing section on your app. They’re now ready for ads pushing them to take that last step and can be targeted as such. Once they complete the purchase through your app or website, they join another list which means they’re automatically removed from your ad audience.
2. Smarter Insights, Thanks to AI and Machine Learning
Machine learning has been a part of GA for a while. With the 4.0 instance, though, it moves into the mainstream.
Artificial intelligence is no longer reserved for advanced marketers and data scientists. Instead, the platform can send automatic alerts when trends begin to emerge. In her announcement, Srinivasan mentioned the ability to send an alert of rising product demand when predictive indicators for that demand begin to rise.
Google is just getting started. New predictive metrics are being added on an ongoing basis. The explicit goal is to help marketers (and businesses as a whole) become more proactive, anticipating and riding with trends rather than reacting to them at a date that might be too late to take action.
3. A Full-Circle View of Reporting
For years, marketers had to consider individual metrics—like clicks or micro-conversions—isolated indicators of campaign success. Sure, they matter. But they mean little in isolation, without the larger context of the customer journey and lifecycle.
Good news, then: GA 4.0 is moving away from isolated metrics as success indicators. Instead, it looks to provide businesses a comprehensive view of the customer journey.
The individual reports you find will help you dive into specific aspects within that journey. You can see where your customers come from, what prompted them to engage, and how you might be able to retain them. The same metrics still matter. But they’re now wrapped into more comprehensive reporting designed to help you personalize your ads and draw actionable business insights.
4. Data Controls for the Present (and Future)
Data is tricky business. Marketers love it, because it helps them make more informed decisions and target ads more specifically. Consumers, though, can quickly feel like their privacy is being compromised, and privacy laws like the GDPR suggest that they’re not alone in that feeling.
Through its improved data controls, the new Google Analytics recognizes that reality. They are, in Google’s world, “built for a future with or without cookies or identifiers.” On a more granular level than had ever been the case, individual businesses can now customize their settings for collecting, storing, and leveraging Analytics data.
You can even distinguish between information used for measurement and information used for personalization, consciously limiting your own efforts and preventing them from going too far. The built-in modeling and trend analysis capabilities, meanwhile, can fill data gaps to continue offering valuable and comprehensive insights.
5. Improved Event Management Capabilities
Experienced Analytics users know events to be an important piece of conversion reporting. Understanding user actions, like clicking on a specific link or following a specific sequence of pages, can play a core role in predicting future customers or retention purchases.
With Google Analytics comes a small but important tweak to that process. Users can now create events directly in the GA interface rather than having to use specific code or GTM tags. That should reduce the level of user error, bringing potentially significant improvement to accurate conversion (and micro-conversion) tracking.
How to Implement Google Analytics 4.0 and Improve Your Reporting
How you can implement GA 4.0 and leverage the above features on your own currently depends on a simple question: do you have an existing instance of Google Analytics?
If the answer is no, simply creating a new install of Google Analytics for your website gets you to the new version. It’s now the default for all new instances, and Google will stop the support of older versions starting immediately.
If you have an existing instance, it gets a little more complex. You can upgrade to Google Analytics by navigating to Admin > Property and finding the right field there. But of course, and as Google recommends, you might want to keep your current instance and reports while building out the new version in the background.
In that case, you might need help. A reliable partner can go a long way towards ensuring that you don’t use Google Analytics but use it in a way that can help you make better business and marketing decisions. That way, you can be sure that the decisions you make have a tangible impact on your ROI.
If you’re interested in that partner, contact us. Let’s have a conversation about how you can leverage Google Analytics 4.0 for your own benefit.