Google Analytics is a must-have tool for every website.
If you’re not familiar with Analytics already, Google Analytics is a free tool that lets website owners and marketers see how visitors find, browse and engage with websites. There are all sorts of data on offer via Analytics from the basics like page views all the way through to custom-defined metrics and events.
Recently Google has been pushing out GA4, the 4th major version of Google Analytics. In this article we’ll dive into all the new features and what you can expect to see once you upgrade to the new platform.
GA4 in a nutshell
The latest version of Analytics is all about events. This new version brings together data from multiple sources and presents them in a unified view. This can be data from websites, apps, and other platforms that users access your content.
The major difference that users will notice in setting up GA4 is the switch to the event-focused model. Gone are the familiar Behaviour and Audience tabs – replaced by “User” and “Engagement”.
This new version really is about how your visitors use your website, instead of just being a tool that is used to see how many people are looking at your website.
Acquisition is all about how your users find your website. Here you’ll see the total number of users who have visited your website and a breakdown of where they came from.
In this section, you can see where your users arrived from both by session, and by first visit. This is extremely useful when running new campaigns and measuring your returning user performance.
Acquisition also holds a special widget that integrates with Google AdSense. “Sessions by Session Campaign” shows how many sessions have been generated by each ad campaign.
The engagement section focuses on how customers interact with your website. This includes key metrics such as average engagement time, page views, and events.
GA4 comes with a set of default events which are all based on user interactions with your site. For example scrolling, clicking, file downloads, and page views.
You can define custom events using Google Tag Manager to gain even more insight into your site performance. Through tag manager, you can track form submissions, clicks on links for email and phone numbers.
Monetization is all about creating revenue through your website. This is split into a few different sections:
eCommerce: if you have a web-shop connected to your Google Analytics account here you will see details of purchases, and some overall stats for each product.
In-app purchases: if you’re tracking an app with Analytics here you can connect up and display details of in-app purchases, e.g. upgrades to a premium version, purchases of DLC, or in-app currency. This section is fairly niche but will be a useful feature for some users.
Publisher Ads: this section connects up to your Google Ad Manager account and shows statistics for your ads across multiple platforms and how effective they are.
Retention is all about repeat visitors. Here you can see how many users are returning to your website or app and which audience segment has a better rate of retention. This can be particularly useful for eCommerce websites where repeat visitors are key to increasing revenue.
The demographics section of Analytics is all about your users, where they come from, and who they are. Here you can see location by country, town/city, age, and gender.
This can be particularly useful when targeting new products and services by location, and to tweak content to your audience.
The final section in Google Analytics is tech. The tech section is focused on how users are accessing your content. Here you will see the device types used, screen resolutions, operating systems, and app versions (if configured).
The tech section is a great way to ensure you’re optimizing your website for the right screen sizes and to ensure that your site design looks great on your most popular screen sizes.
The new Google Analytics 4 suite can seem overwhelming, especially when first logging in to see that all the familiar reports and sections have been moved or completely renamed.
Being event-driven the new platform is a worthwhile tool for eCommerce websites and those running marketing campaigns, offering much more detailed and gradual reporting.
As time goes on no doubt GA4 will be improved and iterated upon to create an even more in-depth platform, which hopefully becomes a little clearer and easier to use for novices and those who simply want to check how their website is performing at a glance.