Why Google Analytics 4 Should be Embraced and Not Feared

Google is switching over to GA4 in July of this year. Read on for what you need to know and why associations should embrace this change!

By Tim Mucha, MS

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The countdown to July 1 is on! When the clock strikes, all standard Universal Analytics properties will stop collecting data and any accounts that haven’t transitioned yet will automatically be created in Google Analytics 4 (GA4). But have no fear, GA4 has some excellent new features while keeping some fan favorites all aimed at helping users.

The good news is that for those who haven’t begun the transition yet and are hesitant to learn the new version, historical data from Universal Analytics will be available for at least six months – stay tuned, Google will provide more updates in the coming months on the full length of availability.

Why is the transition to Google Analytics 4 good?

While learning a whole new dashboard can be daunting, the transition to Google Analytics 4 is beneficial for marketers. As we see privacy protection laws – think GDPR and CCPA – impacting our ability to accurately track users on social media or through cookies, GA4 opens the door to continued tracking while respecting privacy.

GA4 was built to function in a world with heightened privacy protection by using machine learning to create predictions and assumptions about site traffic and user behaviors based on existing data. The new consent mode allows marketers to communicate a users’ cookie or app identifier consent to Google which then adjusts the Google tags behavior based on the user choices. Consent mode receives user consent choices through cookies or widgets and adjusts the behavior of properties to respect those choices. If a website visitor denies consent, Google doesn’t store cookies but sends pings to Google via tag which then lets GA4 fill gaps with conversion and behavioral modeling.

What will be new within Google Analytics 4?

Associations can look forward to new features within GA4. Overall, the dashboard has been entirely revamped and looks cleaner, is easier to navigate and compiles information neatly.

Events and Conversions

Between automatically tracked events and enhanced measurement events, most basic events that associations will be looking to use are already available, however, if you don’t see what you’re looking for, you can now create new events on the platform. Not only can you create new events, but you can use up to 300 per property. This means tracking for your different levels of membership, education products and more!

Similarly, you can create up to 30 conversions. The best part, it’s as easy as toggling the option on once the event has been tracked in GA4.

Custom Reports

If you’re a fan of spreadsheets and creating custom reports to match exactly what you’re looking for, then GA4’s new Explorations is for you! This area is where you can build custom reports that are laid out in a format similar to Excel spreadsheets with tabs that provide unique data. Within Explorations, you’re capable of building tables and visualizations with different metrics that provide data on paths, funnels and segments. Last, but not least, your custom Exploration report can be exported as an Excel workbook or printed as a PDF. The Emergency Nurses Association has constructed a custom exploration report and have found it to be insightful. 

Anomaly Detection

Google’s machine learning and artificial intelligence are doing some really good things. Association marketers can now see anomalies through line graphs that indicate when something should have happened on your website. As an example, if your association is earning $500 each day for memberships, but didn’t – this is considered an anomaly. Now you can look into what caused this anomaly. What’s really helpful is that you can set sensitivity and learning period length for anomaly detection.

Overall, new tech and change can be scary, but if used correctly we can take full advantage of the suite of tools Google is making available – for free. 

Tomorrow is now, so whether you wait until July 1 for GA4 to make it’s appearance for your association, continue reading articles, signing up for courses and experimenting within the dashboard to ensure you’re getting as much helpful data as you possibly can.

About the Author

Tim Mucha is the Digital Marketing Manager for the Emergency Nurses Association. Tim has been with ENA for four years and contributes to a variety of projects across the entire association.

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