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Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics: What's the Difference and Why Should You Upgrade?

10 June 2023

Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics: What's the Difference and Why Should You Upgrade?

 

 

You've likely heard of Google Analytics – the powerful tool used to track and analyse website traffic and user behaviour. But did you know that Google recently rolled out a new and improved version of Analytics called Google Analytics 4? While the previous version, Universal Analytics, served us well for several years, the new update brings a range of exciting features and capabilities that can help you gain a deeper understanding of your audience and their interactions with your website. In this article, we'll explore the differences between Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics and discuss why upgrading to the newer version is a smart move for your business. From advanced machine learning capabilities to improved cross-device tracking and more, read on to discover the benefits of making the switch to Google Analytics 4.

 

What is Google Analytics?

 

Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. It provides valuable insights into the behaviour of website visitors, including where they come from, what pages they visit, how long they stay on each page, and more. This information can be used to optimise your website's performance, improve user experience, and drive conversions.

 

Universal Analytics vs Google Analytics 4: What's the difference?

 

Universal Analytics has been the go-to web analytics tool for websites for many years, but Google Analytics 4 is a new and improved version that builds on the foundation of Universal Analytics. While Universal Analytics tracks website visitors based on cookies, Google Analytics 4 uses an event-driven data model. This means that instead of tracking page-views and sessions, it tracks individual events such as clicks, page scrolls, video plays, and more. This allows for a more granular view of user behaviour and interactions with your website.

Another key difference between the two versions is that Google Analytics 4 uses advanced machine learning to provide more accurate insights into user behaviour. It also incorporates data from multiple channels, including app and web, to give a more complete view of user behaviour across all touch-points. This is particularly important in today's multi-device world where users interact with brands across a range of devices and channels.

 

Benefits of Google Analytics 4

 

There are several benefits of upgrading to Google Analytics 4. Firstly, the new version provides a more complete view of user behaviour by integrating data from multiple channels. This means that you can see how users interact with your website, app, and other touch-points, giving you a better understanding of their journey and behaviour.

Secondly, Google Analytics 4 incorporates advanced machine learning capabilities. This allows you to gain more accurate insights into user behaviour and preferences, and make data-driven decisions that drive business growth.

 

Thirdly, Google Analytics 4 includes improved cross-device tracking. This means that you can track user behaviour across multiple devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet. This is particularly  important in today's mobile-first world where users interact with brands across a range of devices.

 

Features of Google Analytics 4

 

Google Analytics 4 comes with a range of new features and capabilities that can help you gain deeper insights into user behaviour. Here are some of the key features:

- Event-driven data model: as mentioned earlier, Google Analytics 4 uses an event-driven data model that tracks individual events such as clicks, page scrolls, video plays, and more. This allows for a more granular view of user behaviour and interactions with your website.

- Advanced machine learning: Google Analytics 4 incorporates advanced machine learning capabilities that provide more accurate insights into user behaviour and preferences. This allows you to make data-driven decisions that drive business growth.

- Improved cross-device tracking: with Google Analytics 4, you can track user behaviour across multiple devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet. This provides a more complete view of user behaviour and interactions with your brand.

- **Enhanced data controls:** Google Analytics 4 comes with enhanced data controls that allow you to manage data collection and processing more effectively. This includes the ability to configure data deletion settings and data retention periods.

 

Upgrade process: How to switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4

 

If you're currently using Universal Analytics and want to switch to Google Analytics 4, the process is relatively simple. Here's how to do it:

1. Create a new Google Analytics 4 property: First, you'll need to create a new Google Analytics 4 property in your Google Analytics account. This will allow you to start collecting data using the new version.

2. Install the Google Analytics 4 tag: Once you've created the new property, you'll need to install the Google Analytics 4 tag on your website. This will ensure that data is being collected using the new version.

3. Migrate data from Universal Analytics: To ensure a smooth transition, you'll need to migrate data from your existing Universal Analytics property to the new Google Analytics 4 property. This will allow you to continue tracking user behaviour without any interruption.



Google Analytics 4 and privacy concerns

 

Privacy concerns have been a hot topic in recent years, and Google Analytics 4 has taken steps to address these concerns. For example, the new version includes enhanced data controls that allow you to manage data collection and processing more effectively. This includes the ability to configure data deletion settings and data retention periods.

In addition, Google Analytics 4 includes a new feature called Consent mode, which allows you to adjust how data is collected and processed based on user consent. This means that you can ensure that you're collecting data in a way that is compliant with local privacy regulations.

 



Comparison of reports in Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4

 

While Google Analytics 4 provides a more complete view of user behaviour and interactions with your brand, some reports from Universal Analytics are not available in the new version. For example, the User Explorer report, which allows you to see individual user behaviour, is not available in Google Analytics 4.

However, Google Analytics 4 includes several new reports and features that are not available in Universal Analytics. For example, the Engagement report provides insights into user engagement and loyalty, while the Funnel Exploration report allows you to see how users move through your website's conversion funnel.


Google Analytics 4 best practices



 

To get the most out of Google Analytics 4, there are a few best practices that you should follow:

- Set up conversion tracking: conversion tracking allows you to track specific actions taken by users on your website, such as purchases or form submissions. This can help you understand what's driving conversions and optimise your website accordingly.

- Create custom events: custom events allow you to track specific user actions that are not tracked by default in Google Analytics 4. This can provide valuable insights into user behaviour and interactions with your website.

- Use UTM parameters: UTM parameters allow you to track the source of website traffic, including where users are coming from and what campaigns are driving traffic. This can help you understand which marketing channels are most effective and optimise your marketing efforts accordingly.

 

Conclusion

 

Google Analytics 4 is a powerful web analytics tool that provides a more complete view of user behaviour and interactions with your brand. With advanced machine learning capabilities, improved cross-device tracking, and enhanced data controls, it's a smart move for any art business looking to gain deeper insights into its audience. While some reports from Universal Analytics are not available in the new version, Google Analytics 4 includes several new reports and features that can help you optimise your website and marketing efforts. So, if you haven't already, it's time to make the switch to Google Analytics 4 and take your web analytics to the next level.


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