GA4 has had a shaky launch – here’s what you need to know
You might have heard the term GA4 on the grapevine recently, especially if you’ve paid us a visit here at the studio at 21Digital. In a nutshell, it’s the latest version of Google Analytics, which is the system that digital marketers (including us!) use to measure the success of campaigns. GA4 has been in the works for a while, and its launch has meant that we’ve slightly changed the way we work here at 21Digital. So, here’s what you need to know about it – and crucially, what it means for your campaigns.
What is GA4?
GA4 is the newest version of Google’s Analytics software. As a wide-reaching update of its predecessor Universal Analytics, GA4 has been specifically created to comply with new privacy laws, especially those around data tracking. One of the core aims for GA4 is to ensure that Google’s measurement tools continue working properly, in a world where web browsers are increasingly moving to block common tracking cookies as the default.
That cookie-blocking trend is making it more difficult for digital marketers to track the effectiveness of their campaigns, so GA4 relies on a different method of tracking that enables marketers to continue gathering data without violating privacy laws.
What does this mean for you?
Right now, GA4 is proving to be a bit controversial in the world of search marketing, largely because it’s introduced some unintuitive changes to the interface that search marketers are used to using, including the way in which certain data is displayed.
Thankfully with more than 20 years of experience behind us here at 21Digital, we’ve got a bit of a head-start, so our digital marketing team is already hard at work capitalising on the most useful new features for our clients, and finding solutions for one or two new challenges.
So, here’s a quick summary of what that means for you in the short term:
- Your reports may start to look slightly different
- New opportunities to understand your customers
- Even greater precision in the data we provide you
So then, those are the headlines – let’s drill down a little deeper into the reasons behind each one.
GA4 collates data slightly differently than its predecessor, and right now it doesn’t have a facility for us to transfer historical data we’ve gathered in Universal Analytics (i.e. anything before June 2023). So while we still have access to all our old data, it’s currently more difficult and complex to make direct comparisons using GA4. That will have a small impact on your reports, as it means we’ll have to find new ways to make sure you’re still getting the information you need, and in a clear, easy-to-understand format.
New opportunities to understand your customers
While it might have some teething problems, one big advantage that GA4 has over Universal Analytics is that the new system is better able to track data across different devices, which will be particularly useful in helping us to track every stage of the customer journey – from a casual visitor all the way up to a first-time customer. That’s going to give us valuable insight for building and optimising more tailored webpages to meet the needs of your customers.
GA4 is still in its early days, of course, so it’s going to take a bit of time for us to build up to this kind of data, but our digital marketing team are already finding some quite intriguing uses for all the new tools the platform has to offer.
More precise data
There’s no question that GA4 is a particularly complex version of Google Analytics, and as we’ve covered, that has its strengths and drawbacks. One of its strengths, though, is that it introduces an array of new features and new ways to view the data. (It’s not laid out terribly intuitively at present, but it’s something we’re expecting to be addressed in forthcoming updates.)
One way in which this could affect you is that it may help us to be even more precise with the figures we’re providing you in reports. That could end up being invaluable in informing our strategies for your campaigns, so you can continue enjoying the very best ROI.
So, what’s next?
Like it or not, GA4 is the future. But there’s nothing you need to do – if there’s anything else you need to know, you can count on us to keep you in the loop. Whatever happens in the world of SEO, we’ll always remain focused on our overarching mission – and that’s to deliver bespoke organic search campaigns that get you tangible results.
We’re a multi-award-winning agency here at 21Digital, specialising in lead generation and e-commerce. We provide a range of digital marketing services, including web design, web development, SEO, Google Ads, digital consultancy, social media marketing and email marketing. Want to find out more about what we can do for you? Give us a call, and let’s talk!