What is Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and What Has Changed?

GA4 - Phone with a big 4 symbol for Google Analytics 4

GA4 – a term that you’ve probably heard for a while now. Whether you work in digital marketing or you’re a business owner. You know it should be on your radar, you know that you need to migrate over from Universal Analytics. Do you know why though and what the differences are when it comes to Google Analytics? It’s not just useful knowing how to work the new update and the interface but what do the reports mean and why have some things changed?

What is GA4?

Google releases updates constantly. We’re always being told to keep up with algorithm changes and often we’re told to start doing something that we were previously told not to do. It’s confusing, infuriating even but the core statistics when it comes to measuring success have remained. So, it only makes sense that the core vitals would eventually change. If you’ve been told to keep an eye on a specific factor, the chances are that is changing with GA4.

Engagement Rate

Many of my clients and sectors that i’ve previously worked on have been infatuated with bounce rate. It’s a pretty important useful statistic but it’s kind of flawed. It has been for a while and that’s why GA4 has decided to not highlight it but to focus on a new metric: engagement rate. It’s not only worded better but it does exactly what it states, it measures just how engaged your audience is on a page. They may not be completely bouncing but they may also not be navigating further on your site. Are users more engaged on one page than what they are on another? Is your user journey compromised because of a fault in the process?

GA4 examples of user engagement rate

No More Conversions Set-Up

Setting up goal conversions in Google Analytics has always been a bit of faff. It’s never been straight forward especially if you’re a business owner that has no experience in using analytics. Even watching tutorials or how to guides never really helped. So, many will be relieved to know that the majority of goals will no longer need to be set up. Minus form submissions and e-commerce goals but even they aren’t as hectic as they were previously!

Events are pre-made actions that include clicks, first visits, scroll behaviour, file downloads and more. This not only makes life easier but it makes sense to see these things automatically. They will enable you to see what your users are doing from the get go.

GA4 Events Labels - How to set up as conversions

Reports In a Flash

Another feature that has been simplified is reports. It’s now easier than ever to pull a specific report with multiple filters and user experience and ease of use are definitely at the forefront of GA4.

Predicted metrics enable you to better understand your audiences. You can create custom funnels that are purely based on user behaviours and this will prove useful when creating audiences for paid advertising. You can dig deeper by customising your reports based on metrics that really matter to your business needs. In fact, reporting is probably easier than ever in GA4 and is one of their best features in my opinion.

GA4 Report Templates - Customise Cards

Streamlined User Journey

One of the most important things that Google have implemented is a new way to track user journey on your site. Google are invested in knowing how users are using your site, are they searching within your site, can they get to their destination easily? The Explore tab allows you to create filters to see the following very clearly:

    • Purchase probability


    • Repeat custom & loyalty


    • Revenue predictions

This level of data gives you better indication to when it comes to users and their behaviours. It’s also handy when it comes to creating better content strategies that align their needs with a streamlined user journey.

Google Analytics GA4 Funnel Exploration Showing Abandonment Rate

When Will Universal Analytics End?

Universal analytics will sunset on July 1st 2023. From this date it will no longer pull any site data and GA4 will automatically be your new Google Analytics. The sooner you migrate the better, as you’ll also be able to see past and existing data. Once the migration has happened, you’ll no longer be able to access past site activity. So forget trying to see if users were more engaged in 2020 compared to now.

Yes, change can be daunting and inconvenient but it is worth making the change now. If you haven’t already started using GA4 as your main measurement tool, then the next few months will be worth it. Start familiarising yourself with the new dashboard, metrics and reports. You’ll then have time to ask questions to Google and the wider community before everyone else starts to! You’ll be a whizz before you know it and might even think ‘who-niversal analytics?’ I don’t know her.

Talk to Victress About GA4

If you’re still a bit clueless or worrying about the GA4 switchover then speak to us at Victress. We work with partners who can advise and help with the migration and what you need to start reporting on. Make sure you don’t lose any existing data and reports and have a system in place on what to report on going forward.


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