What the switch to GA4 means for B2B marketing – and how to get ahead

Mark Gillam 2nd November 2022 B2B Campaigns, MarTech

In October 2020, Google announced that Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will replace Google Universal Analytics (UA) and that UA will stop collecting data in July 2023.

Whilst there is still nearly a year before the current analytics tool is phased out, many experts recommend moving now, as you’ll build up more historical data within the new mode the earlier you migrate.

So, what is GA4? And why else should B2B marketers be migrating now? Read on to find out…

What is GA4?

GA4 is a cross-platform analytics solution that offers a significant upgrade on previous iterations of Google’s extensively used analytics tools. It is able to provide valuable insights across websites and apps by measuring different types of data, delivering an overall stronger analytics experience.

Why is Google making a change now?

Following advances in digital technology and marketing, UA is frankly less fit for purpose nowadays.

However, there’s a catch-22 where analytics insight is concerned. UA provides the data most marketers want, but only because they have been conditioned by UA on what to actually expect from their analytics. 

For example, bounce rate is an increasingly less attractive metric because it can be easily fixed by turning off pop ups on landing pages – but it’s one of the big metrics UA places at its core. So, while measuring bounce rate can be useful to new brands and new websites as they figure out their journey, ultimately it’s one of several lazy metrics that marketers report – and this is due to the hegemonic nature of UA.

GA4 offers something different and is considerably more customisable, providing information and insights that actually matter to your business.

What differentiates GA4?

There are three major differences between UA and GA4.

1. How users are tracked. In UA, users are tracked via sessions (or set periods with a definable start and end point that encapsulates everything a user does on your site). GA4 is event based; so instead of creating a new session when a user returns to a site, GA4 records all events they complete. This means there is a focus on what users actually do on your website, rather than just tracking when they arrived and where from. This helps build a better picture of the interactions individual users have.

2. The reporting. In UA, there are a number of predefined reports with limited customisation available. GA4 starts with a limited number of top-level reports but offers (through the Analysis tab) much more choice in how your reports look, allowing you to drill down to the data that’s most important to you. 

3. The set-up. UA uses a property and view set-up, while GA4 allows you to mix data from your apps and website. This happens through a single property and Google Analytics’ data streams. 

Moreover, you can place the same tracking code in the different properties (i.e. website, iOS app, or Android app) and consolidate the data to track a user between the streams. That means that there’s a new tracking code, so instead of the UA-XXXXXX-X type code, the tracking ID now looks like this: G-XXXXXXX.

GA4 offers something different and is considerably more customisable, providing information and insights that actually matter to your business.

What specifically does GA4 offer?

  • A move towards data-driven attribution. With GA4, Google is moving from last-click attribution to data-driven attribution, which means you can assign credit to selected touch points in Google Ads – impacting Search, Shopping ad clicks, and Display ad clicks. This will help marketers get an accurate and real-time understanding of how marketing activities are influencing conversion.
  • Better audience building. GA4 offers customisable options to better understand visitor behaviour. Using new pre-made audience templates, GA4 helps you take audience analysis to the next level. Whether it’s learning more about who your audience is, their demographics (language, gender), the technologies they’re using or their behaviour, users are offered extensive insight like never before.
  • No cookie tracking or impact on privacy. We know cookies are being phased out as a tracking tool. GA4 is going to be considerate to users too, and will no longer store IP addresses or rely on tracking cookies. This gives reassurance to users about their personal data security, whilst helping webmasters stay on the right side of ethical marketing practices.
  • Mobile app activity tracking. With GA4, webmasters can follow app activity alongside web tracking, making marketing data significantly more accurate and allowing more overall visibility of the consumer journey.
  • New predictive capabilities. UA helps you measure individual clicks and downloads made by an audience. However, by applying Google’s always-improving machine learning technology, GA4 goes one step further by predicting the future actions people may take. These metrics can help you reach the people that do not return to your website, with targeted Google Ads.

There are two real business-defining impacts of this:

  • Purchase probability – a metric that predicts the likelihood that a visitor to your app/website will make a purchase in the next seven days. 
  • Churn probability – predicts how likely it is that active users will not visit your app/website in the next seven days.

Speak to us about the move to GA4 today.

What is the impact for b2b marketers? Reasons to move now!

Is GA4 good for B2B marketing?

The new GA4 is a new and improved version of UA for apps and websites, so it has to be a yes!

However, if you never got your head around setting up Events, it will need some thoughtful configuration. Events, even in UA, historically haven’t been the easiest to set up in WordPress, and that’s led many marketers to stick with the “basics” of UA: focusing on users, sessions, and bounce rate. 

You’ll still be able to track UA metrics in GA4, but it also makes custom analytics packages available and easier to deploy. 

What does this mean? Faster insights tuned to your business, rather than less specific goals like “let’s try to cut our bounce rate by 10%.”

More reasons to move now…

1. GA4 is the future of Google Analytics. GA4 has been fully functional since October 2020 and has been the default property type when creating a new Google Analytics property. Google has and will continue to invest in GA4 through to and past the cancelling of support for UA in June 2023.

2. GA4 is forward facing only. Whilst GA4 will be the standard for analytics, new GA4 accounts will only collect data from the time of creation. It won’t import past data from UA properties. So, to have more data at your disposal when UA is switched off, marketers need to be implementing GA4 as soon as possible.

3. Upgrading to GA4 is easy. If you’re already using UA on your website, upgrading is easy.

4. You’ll have greater flexibility. GA4 allows – and even encourages – users to create custom reports for the data they need. This significantly reduces the number of irrelevant, pre-made reports. This results in a less cluttered dashboard, so you can find the most important data for your business faster. Easy-to-access information enables you to make informed decisions more quickly, which means you improve your website and/or app’s effectiveness and user experiences.

Follow these steps.

First, go to google.com/analytics. Navigate to your preferred account. Under the property column, select “Upgrade to GA4.”

Under “I need to create a new Google Analytics 4 property,” select “Get Started.” If your instance of analytics is installed with gtag.js, you can select the “Enable data collection using your existing tags” option. 

If you use Tag Manager, you’ll have to set this part up manually. Once you create the property, you’ll go to the stream details page, where you can customise settings. You can change what events get recorded under “Enhanced Measurement,” though we suggest leaving all events enabled. 

Once you’ve configured your event measurement, it’s time to get the tracking code on your site. If you already use the gtag.js for UA, you can copy and paste an additional line of code to your existing tag (gtag instructions here).

If you use Tag Manager, you’ll need to add a GA4 tag to your existing container. DO NOT DELETE your UA tag. To set up your GA4 tag, you’ll only need your new GA4 ID, and you’ll set your trigger to fire on each page view, just like the UA base tag (Tag Manager instructions here).

Summary

GA4 is on track to be more powerful than UA, and provide more relevant data about why users are on your site and/or app. It allows you to combine the data from multiple data streams into one property and more accurately attribute actions to users across devices. 

While GA4 won’t give you all this data right off the bat, early implementation will help you take advantage of the enhanced experience and data sooner rather than later. We encourage all site owners to implement GA4 on their sites and apps as soon as possible.

Looking for specialist support in migrating to GA4? 

We’ve been getting up to speed since GA4 was announced, and have been busy helping our clients migrate over. Need a hand? Start here.

 

Mark Gillam

Mark Gillam

Analyst and Planner