WebStrategies CEO, Chris Leone, discusses GA4 with Mike Lawson on CU broadcast and a summary of the changes is below.
Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) will stop working on July 1, 2023, so if that is where you get your website data, you'll need to transition to GA4 or use another source to view and analyze your website data.
GA4 is the new alternative, that is built for the future.
Three important things to know about GA4:
- It’s a better way of tracking website data. All the events that people take on your website will be tracked and data will be processed in a way that allows you to do more with it. From a technical perspective, it really is much better and scalable. These are changes that are long overdue and it is a better way to track things.
- Unfortunately, the interface is not good, so it’ll feel like an inferior product, but don’t let that fool you. You have to get over the hump and learn the interface and it will reveal the potential.
- All of your old data that’s been collected for years is not coming over to GA4 and it won’t be there forever. Google has only committed to giving access to that data until the end of 2023. If that data is important to you, it needs to be stored somewhere else. For example, if you want to see trends over time.
What’s new with GA4?
- From a customization standpoint, there isn’t as much you need to do right out of the box. For example, to see the number of people who scrolled a page, watched a video, or downloaded a file, it previously had to be done with Google Tag Manager. But in GA4 these events are tracked automatically.
- A new metric called engagement rate tracks the events like those mentioned above. This is a better way to measure the quality of traffic, landing pages, and traffic from sources. Previously bounce rate was fairly flawed because it didn’t take important things into account, such as watching an entire video, then leaving, they are considered bounced. But now engagement rate is a better way to think about the quality of traffic.
- The interface is more customizable so you can move reports around and change how certain things are visualized. We still recommend a different route for data visualization but GA4 handles it better than UA.
- The time windows to analyze data will be much more limited. You can only look back 14 months at a time, not for 3-4 years (or more) at a time for example. And, if you are analyzing demographic data, it is only 2 months at a time. There are ways around it if you use a separate tool for displaying your data, but if going straight through the interface you’ll be more limited in looking at trends over time.
Overall, while GA4 is an adjustment, the overall improvement in data and cross-platform tracking is a more progressive platform. Contact WebStrategies if we can help your credit union with tracking data for your website and digital platforms.