News and insights • Posted on 19 August 2022

Our favourite features of GA4

The latest version of Google Analytics, known as GA4, is well and truly here. It was launched in October 2020 and the sunsetting of Universal Analytics (UA) has been announced. 

When it was first launched, GA4 was met with a large amount of negativity as users tried to find their favourite metrics in GA4 they’d used in UA. But such like for like comparisons are hard to make as GA4 is not simply a new reporting platform. It represents a seismic shift in data, reporting and the wider digital marketing sphere. We recently wrote an article on what GA4 represents for SEO which delves into this shift in more detail.

Now the dust has settled and users have had some time to get to grips with the platform, some very useful features have emerged. Here, we discuss our favourites so far. 

GA4 brings together cross-device data

Where UA was praised for its segregation and parsing of data, GA4 emphasises bringing data together. This matches up with modern user behaviour. Sales funnels used to be clear cut and linear, but this is not the case anymore. Users bounce around devices and platforms with ease and fluidity. 

GA4 is built to enable tracking of modern sales processes, allowing for much simpler cross-device tracking. It can now seamlessly track a user who finds the site through a PPC ad, revisits on a mobile device then signs up and makes a purchase on an app. This means more relevant, actionable data that’s easier to access.

Easier goal tracking

Goal tracking is key for digital marketing – it can help determine the success of a campaign, where it’s weak, where it’s strong and where opportunities lie. Previously, setting up goals on UA wasn’t a simple process. Often development support would be needed, along with a certain amount of creativity in order to get the right result. 

GA4 has made a real effort to ensure goal tracking is a now much simpler affair. It’s easier to set up goals, more of them can be set up at any given moment (30, compared with 20 previously) and they can be deleted, which wasn’t previously possible.

Better tracking in a world of increasing privacy
One of the biggest differences between UA and GA4 is how it collects data. UA uses IP addresses and cookies to collect data on users. But, due to an increasing amount of privacy regulations the data is becoming less and less reliable. However, GA4 tracks users through an events-driven model, rather than simply tracking users/sessions. Not only this, but over its lifespan, Google has amassed a huge amount of data. Now it can use accurate machine learning to plug the gaps caused by privacy regulations. And, once purchase events have been established, GA4 will start to gather data in order to create predictive audiences. It does this using its own AI and it will allow for accurate modelling allowing marketers to create more targeted campaigns.

Create custom reports

In UA, you’re relatively limited in how data is represented. You can add a secondary dimension, and switch between a bar chart and line chart, but if you want to compare two data streams and UA can’t do it then… you can’t. However, GA4 allows for quick and easy building of automated tables. Now, you can drop any data you want into the format that suits you best, allowing you to access the data that means the most to you. Not only this, but you can then save and even export these reports so they are easy to access and share. 

With the end of UA in sight, we’ll be diving as deep into GA4 as we can to find more tools and reporting to help us stay abreast of the ever-evolving world of the web. Want to talk to our digital marketing experts about how we can help your brand leverage GA4? Get in touch. Alternatively, sign up to our newsletter for all the latest updates and insight.

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Written by Andy McCaul

Co-founder and digital marketing guru Andy ensures all projects are shipshape, and that we generate the best return on investment for clients.

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