A GA4 guide for e-commerce businesses
Google Analytics is a powerful tool for tracking website traffic and user behaviour. So it’s no surprise that when Google announced the release of its new analytics platform Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and the eventual discontinuation of Universal Analytics (UA), business owners had mixed reactions. But how will this switch affect your e-commerce business? And what do you need to do to prepare? Look no further; we’re here to guide you through the fundamental changes and improvements.
What is GA4?
GA4, or Google Analytics 4, is the latest version of Google’s widely used analytics platform. The significant change is its ability to track websites and apps within the same account, new reporting features, and more detailed insights into user interactions. The data architecture behind GA4 is entirely different from previous versions of Analytics, providing new ways to measure and analyse traffic usage. The interface of GA4 also looks different from Universal Analytics, with changes to navigation. Overall, GA4 is a significant update that offers improved capabilities for tracking and analysing user behaviour across all your marketing channels.
Do I have to switch to GA4?
One of the most asked questions from our clients has been; do I have to make the switch? And the answer is YES! While GA4 has been around since October 2020, and it’s been possible to choose which platform to use, Google has announced that support for Universal Analytics (UA) will end on 1 July 2023. New traffic to your e-commerce site won’t show in your Universal Google Analytics account from this date. By the end of the year, Google will start to delete old data, meaning GA4 will be your analytics platform of choice moving forward.
What are the critical differences between Universal Analytics and GA4?
Unlike traditional tracking methods that rely on cookies, GA4 uses a more advanced and flexible approach to data processing. One of the main differences between GA4 and its predecessor, UA, is that GA4 collects data based on events rather than page views, which provides a more comprehensive understanding of how users interact with websites and apps, allowing businesses to optimise their digital experiences accordingly. By collecting more meaningful data, businesses can develop better-informed strategies and make more informed decisions. Let’s have a look at the most important changes in more detail.
1. GA4 provides a complete view of your customer’s journey
GA4 offers a new approach to tracking data compared to its predecessor, Universal Analytics. Instead of relying only on sessions and pageviews from your website, GA4 focuses on event-based data tracking across multiple channels (your website and apps like Instagram). Events are any action taken on a website or within an app – clicking a button, scrolling a page, downloading a file, starting or watching a video, and other interactions previously left unaccounted for.
The event-based model combined with the multi-channel tracking approach is more flexible in predicting visitor behaviour which allows for much more advanced reporting and data analysis, as demonstrated by this example:
A potential customer launches a Google search on their work PC during lunch to search for a product. They discover your brand, scroll through your website and sign up for your discount code. On their commute home from work, they open your welcome email, click over to Instagram and watch a product video. Later that week, after receiving a reminder email to use their discount code, they finally make a purchase from their home laptop.
GA4 allows you to see all these customer journey stages as a whole, enabling you to optimise your marketing and advertising efforts accordingly.
2. Game-changing attribution model (we’re excited!)
As we saw from the previous customer journey example, it’s common for buyers to conduct several searches and interact with your brand via multiple channels before making a purchase. GA4 shows you which channels lead to sales on your website.
Let’s unpack that journey to understand how powerful data-driven cross-channel attribution in GA4 is.
Before the conversion described above happened, the customer landed on several marketing marks (touchpoints):
- One search
- Two clicks from 2 emails
- One video view
- One checkout page that converted
Universal Analytics reports attributed the entire credit for that conversion to the channel with the last click. But as you saw from our example, that leaves a lot of the journey unaccounted for.
In GA4, if there is more than one touchpoint (and there almost always is), GA4 will use machine learning to attribute the conversion proportionally to each channel
What a mouthful.
What this means for you is that you can get a accurate picture of what each channel contributes to your conversions.
Data-driven attribution enables us to have a broader look of all of the marketing efforts behind the conversion and how they work together, allowing for more strategic marketing and ad campaigns.
This part of GA4 is a game changer for your business when you work with a full stop agency like us. At Keetrax our strategy for clients is to identify the gaps and improve your acquisition, bonding, conversion, and post-purchase delight across the multiple channels your ideal customer is interacting with.
We can now see:
- What channels and which campaigns were responsible for bringing you new customers
- What channels and which campaigns were responsible for delivering high value customers
- What channels and which campaigns kept customers engaged with your brand before they were ready to purchase
- And of course, what channels and which campaigns got your customers to buy
When you look at marketing channel attribution for your e-commerce business, it’s essential to consider how your customers interact with your brand – and how you want them to interact with your brand (your brand strategy).
If the conversion process takes several months, a different channel mix is appropriate than if conversions typically occur within a few days.
Imagine if that data could help your business grow by 25%. How much is that in dollars for you? What would that mean to you and your business?
3. Machine learning
With GA4’s advanced machine learning capabilities, e-commerce store owners can gain insights into the most effective channels and touchpoints for engaging with customers. This information can be used to drive more conversions and revenue.
There are three predictive metrics you can track in GA4:
- Purchase probability – analyses the likelihood of a user who has been active in the last 28 days, logging a conversion in the next seven days.
- Churn probability – calculates the likelihood that a user who has been active on your app or site in the last seven days will not be active in the next seven days.
- Predicted revenue – estimates the expected revenue from all purchase events in the next 28 days from a user who was active in the next 28 days.
4. Better integration with Google Ads
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) works seamlessly with other Google products like Google Ads and Google Merchant Center. With GA4, you can quickly identify your most engaged or valuable audiences and target them with a paid campaign. Plus, you can view your Google Ads campaigns directly in the acquisitions report of GA4 and import analytics conversions into your Google Ads account for a more comprehensive view of your advertising performance.
5. Enhanced reporting & site search
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has introduced new reports that provide a more comprehensive understanding of website activity. The dropdown menu is structured around the customer lifecycle, with reports on Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization, and Retention. GA4 offers a user-friendly site search feature that allows for easy navigation and access to real-time reports and other GA4 properties using natural language queries. With GA4, we’re looking forward to providing our clients with even more valuable insights into their performance so they can make informed decisions about their marketing.
Using Google Analytics 4
We’re not going to shy away from saying this, becoming familiar with Google Analytics 4 is a steep learning curve. The familiar Universal Analytics interface is gone, along with its standard reports and metrics. So whilst the enhancements can be powerful for e-commerce business owners, they can also be intimidating. That’s where we come in. If you’re a current Keetrax client, we’re already on it when it comes to migrating your account. And if you are reading this and would like our help making the switch, let’s talk.