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If there’s one thing I know about your business it’s that you’re constantly having to adapt to the ever-changing environment. Whether it’s evolving consumer behaviour, economic pressures or demographic changes, there’s always a new challenge around the corner for those running a business.

You’ll have recently navigated your way through the once-in-a-lifetime Covid lockdowns and are now trying to grow your business at a time when the cost of living crisis is making front-page headlines.

So the last thing you need is me reminding you that there’s another change that may be affecting your business. A change you’ll probably not have thought about.

It might seem too obvious, but have you thought about how your customers use the internet and whether that is changing too?

As someone who spends every day at the coal face of digital marketing, I can tell you that how we use the internet is constantly changing.

But don’t worry.

As you’d expect, the big names in the tech world are already onto it and in July 2023 Google replaced Universal Analytics with a new web analytics platform. If you’re not already familiar with Universal Analytics, it was a web analytics service that you could use for data tracking, user behaviour analysis and to highlight other performance metrics on your website.

In a nutshell, it told you how users were finding your website and what they were doing when they got there. Crucially, it gave you an insight into how your marketing was performing and if you were hitting your goals.

As I said, we live in a fast-moving world and how users find your business and how they interact with you is constantly changing. So Google replaced Universal Analytics with Google Analytics 4, a new platform that has proven to be a significant step up.


Universal Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4 – How do they differ?

There are some notable changes in GA4 that allow website owners to get more advanced insights into user behaviour. Let’s take a brief look at the improvements to Google’s latest web analytics platform.

Event-Based vs Session-based – Where Universal Analytics collected data about a user’s session, GA4 is event-driven. By reporting on events you gain a better insight into how users engage with your website or app.


What is an Event in Google Analytics 4?

An event is any action that a user takes while on your website. Some of the events will be actions that you’re already monitoring – page views, clicks and the like.

But what about video plays? Or form completions? GA4 includes a bunch of new metrics to measure including tracking conversions and even how far down a page a user has scrolled. There’s also an option to create your own custom events as long as you remember these won’t show on most standard reports.


Tracking Users Across Platforms

This is another big change that I’m a fan of. For businesses with a good online presence, the ability to see your user’s overall behaviour is very helpful. GA4 tracks your potential customers across websites, apps and other platforms. See what I mean about GA4 being built for how users use the internet now?


GA4 and Online Privacy

You’re no doubt familiar with the basics of GDPR. Google Analytics 4 was created with user privacy in mind and has features that include anonymous IP addresses as a default.


Other New Features in GA4

If I still needed to sell you on the benefits of Google’s latest analytics platform I’d note that it also offers improved measurements – and a lot of it is already set up for you. GA4 also incorporates machine learning into the platform. This means GA4 is able to anticipate user behaviour using predictive metrics, something I believe will be increasingly important for your digital marketing efforts.

Expect GA4 to help you build highly specific audience segments, provide detailed and flexible e-commerce tracking, and integrate with other Google products.


How to Set Up Google Analytics 4

There are a number of options available for setting up GA4 with the first step involving creating an Analytics account. You can then create a property which tells GA4 what your business involves and allows it to select the best reports for you.

You’ll also need to add a Google tag to your website, a small piece of code to link your site to GA4 and allow the flow of data. The process needed to complete this step will depend on the type of site you have, with GA4 seamlessly linking to content management systems (CMS) including Shopify, Wix and Squarespace.

If this all sounds a little daunting, remember there are experts available who can do the heavy lifting for you. That’s also important if you want to get the best out of GA4’s improved reporting features.


Carrying out Accurate Reporting in Google Analytics 4

You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t understand the importance of generating usable data from your web analytics platform. You should be tracking data, monitoring user behaviour, noting your website performance, event tracking and conversion tracking.

All that combined data will give you a good understanding of your users and how to better market to them. GA4 has predefined reports that capture this data, whether that is a snapshot or a longer-term view.

I’d suggest that it’s vitally important for your business to customise – or even create from scratch –  personalised reports that dive deep into your site’s performance.


Of course, I’m here to help you set up and customise Google Analytics 4 and I’d love to show you how you can harness the power of this platform to improve your digital marketing efforts. Get in touch if you want to learn more about GA4 and how to integrate it into your marketing strategy.