Making sense of Data and Google Analytics 4 with Steph

Make Things, Make Sense Podcast
Season 1 Episode 17
Play in Spotify App

Introduction

How can marketing managers adapt to the changes of GA4 and analysis data? What are the advantages of GA4? How can people who aren’t data experts make the most use of the data?

A year from now, your website tracking is going to stop. There’s no way around it, its going to happen. In today’s episode, Steph Scicluna, our very own Head of Marketing, is going to tell us exactly what to do about it.

Marketers spent years perfecting their skills within the parameters of Universal Analytics (UA). Then, almost overnight, Google flipped the online advertising landscape upside down and left us all scrambling.

What Is GA4?

nlike Apple, which gives you a new version of the iPhone every year with minimal differences (not to throw any shade), Google has completely changed the nature of website tracking with one move.

Pretty much everything is different:

  • The website tracking functionality
  • The dashboards
  • The data retention periods

How is GA4 different?

Data model 

  • In GA4, every interaction is captured as an event.
  • This change switches the focus from engaged sessions and pageviews to the user journey.

Connection to BigQuery

  • BigQuery is a data warehouse that allows users to process SQL queries at high speeds. With Universal Analytics (UA), users had to pay to upgrade to Google Analytics 360 in order to export raw data to BigQuery.
  • Users can export data in GA4 for free.
  • You will only be charged after you exceed 1TB of querying per month and 10GB of storage.

Data limits

  • The Universal Analytics free version had a limit of 10 million hits per month. This meant that companies often had to work with incomplete information because they had to rely on sampled data.
  • GA4 does not have any limits on monthly hits. That is why many companies have chosen to make the transition to GA4 as soon as possible.

Updated metrics

There are a number of key differences between UA metrics and GA4 metrics. The bounce rate has been removed, and other metrics added:

  • The number of users who have interacted with your website or launched your app for the first time.
  • GA4 creates a Session ID to determine where each session came from. That helps with the user journey. The session ends after more than thirty minutes of inactivity.
  • Engagement Rate – Measures the rate of sessions that lasted longer than ten seconds and had a conversion event or at least two pageviews.
  • Average engagement time which shows the average time the visitor used your web page or app.
  • Views: GA4 counts the total number of app screens of webpages your user saw.
  • Event count: Every hit on the website is counted as an event. The events themselves are distinguished by parameters. That means every step of the user journey will be part of the event count, right up until the conversion.
  • Conversions: Users have to specify each event that they want to count as a conversion. If signing up for an email is described as a conversion, GA4 will count it as one.
  • Lifetime value: Identifies which users are the most valuable to your business. It shows you where the users came from, how much time they spent on your website, and how much money they spent. Based on this information, you can choose to spend your budget on the most effective marketing channel for your business.
  • Total revenue: Shows the combined revenue from subscriptions, purchases, and advertising.
  • Advertiser ad clicks: Shows the number of times users clicked on your ad.

Privacy consent

  • GA4 maximises data collection while complying with privacy laws.
  • Consumers are increasingly rejecting data tracking. In the European Union, 30-40% of consumers are declining cookie tracking on retail sites.

Event tracking

  1. Automatically collected events are the events that GA4 tracks by default. The list of website events is:
    • First visit: Records when the user first opens the website or the app.
    • Session start: When the user engages with the website or the app.
    • User engagement: Starts tracking after the user has used the website or app for more than 10 seconds.
  2. Enhanced measurement events is an option designed to give marketers the chance to capture as many different events as possible. This feature is also enabled by default and will track:
    • Page views
    • Scroll
    • Outbound link click
    • Site search
    • Video engagement
    • File download
  3. Recommended events: Unlike the first two types, recommended events aren’t enabled by default. Users have to manually implement them because they require additional context to be useful to the users. Google has supplied a list of recommended events. For this type to work, marketers must use the exact same event and parameters as outlined by Google.
  4. Customized events: The users define these types of events. They should only be used in case none of the above-listed event categories apply to the company’s use case. That’s because most custom events don’t show up in standard reports. Companies have to create customer GA4 reports to conduct a meaningful analysis.

Reports

  • GA4’s simplified dashboard makes it easier to spot trends and data irregularities.
  • Instead of a list of standardized reports that try to cover every use case, GA4 uses overview reports in summary cards.
  • There are three main types of reports:
    1. Homepage report
    2. Realtime report
    3. Life cycle reporting

Attribution

GA4 offers three different types of attribution models:

  • Data-driven attribution
  • Cross-channel rules-based model
  • Ads-preferred rules-based model

The Advantages Of GA4

Real-time tracking

  • GA4 is more advanced than UA because it shows real-time users both demographically and geographically.
  • Device filtration shows where users come from.

Data streams

  • GA4 provides data streams for page views, scrolls, video, and outbound.
  • All this data can be monitored from a single GA4 platfor

Machine learning

  • Generates Google Ads forecasts based on the probability of conversions.
  • Helps detect anomalies in reports.

Customer journey

  • GA4 is focused on customer journeys.
  • Highlights channels that generate the most customers.
  • Allows companies to plan their campaigns based on user behaviour.

User information

  • GA4 advanced machine learning alerts users when their routine activity is compromised.
  • Collects data from both apps and websites at the same time.
  • Companies don’t have to use plug-ins to collect user information.

Greater Accuracy

When you set up GA4, especially if you run it together with UA for a while, you may notice that GA4 offers a far greater level of accuracy in its tracking. That’s because companies will gain access to information about how consumers are interacting with their app and website content.

Cross-Device, Cross-Platform Tracking

With cross-platform tracking, activity is attributed to the same user regardless of the platform. That keeps the tracking numbers far more accurate.

Conclusion

Like it or not, GA4 will be the only available free website tracking software soon, and you have to tackle the challenge it poses as soon as possible.

So if you’d rather be ahead of the curve than behind it, get in touch with us at Growth Gurus. We are in the process of switching all our clients over to GA4, so there’s no reason why all that experience shouldn’t benefit you as well!

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