The clock is ticking for those who are still using Universal Analytics. We have only one year left before it gets shut down. Google’s decision to sunset UA has created a significant challenge for marketers.
However, we do love challenges, don’t we?
We should view this challenge as an exciting opportunity to grow and explore a new tool. Of course, you have every right to rant and rave at migration to Google Analytics 4.
Still, this article should cheer you up by outlining the top 10 GA4 features. Who knows? Maybe you will fall in love with this tool after reading about it or getting some inspiration to test GA4 out.
So let’s dive into the key benefits of using GA4.
To track your customers’ activity on your webpage in UA, you have to set this up on your own. GA4 brought about a tremendous improvement in tracking. Just sit back in your computer chair and enjoy the automatic tracking offered by GA4.
Yes, you got it right. You don’t have to make any modifications to your code. It is enough to activate this setting in the GA4 interface, and you will get information about your customers’ activity right away.
Specifically, you can see if someone scrolled down to the bottom of your webpage, clicked a link leading to a different domain, searched something on your site, watched a video, or downloaded a file.
This data will be collected and sent to GA4 as events. In this way, you will automatically get more information about your customers and thus better understand what is happening on your webpage.
Another significant breakthrough is the introduction of DebugView. You don’t have to grope in the dark anymore, trying to figure out if your freshly implemented tracking is working (or not).
With the DebugView, you can see all events and parameters and verify that your data is flowing to your GA4 account in the correct format. Without any exaggeration, I can say that this feature is an absolute godsend, as you can troubleshoot your tracking quickly and conveniently.
I am sure you would agree that debugging could sometimes take hours, as spotting an issue could be challenging. Now it is straightforward because we can monitor all the data in real-time (within the last 30 minutes, to be precise). Moreover, your test events will be filtered out of your reports so that your metrics are not affected.
New data model
Undoubtedly, one of the fundamental changes in GA4 is its new data model. There’s a general statement that GA4 is an upgrade of UA.
Well, it is in a way, but I’d say that this is a new tool with a new concept. The GA4 data model has brought it to the new era of analytics, giving us so much flexibility in data collection.
Not only can we track our web pages but also mobile applications. Sounds exciting, right?
With the new data model, everything will be an event in GA4. This means that your customer’s activity on your website, such as scroll, click, or even page view, would be interpreted as an event.
What is the benefit of such a model? With the help of GA4, we can ask more precise questions about our customers’ behavior and thus provide more detailed answers to them.
Customers’ privacy has always been an important topic in digital marketing. Safeguarding this privacy is entirely understandable because our primary goal is to gain people’s trust and turn their journey on our webpage into an exciting adventure.
This is why we should also respect the privacy-related choices of our customers. GA4 creators addressed this matter and rolled out multiple privacy features to ensure that you have an effective data strategy.
Let me provide some specific examples. In GA4, you don’t have to configure IP anonymization on your own, as IP addresses are not logged by default. Moreover, the tool relies on 1st-party cookies (yep, not chocolate ones) to ensure compliance. You can also have control over ad personalization on a granular level, choosing settings for a specific country.
So many cool features so far! Here comes the next one, and that is conversion configuration. Just a quick note: A conversion is an event that is particularly valuable to your business. This event could be a form submission or a purchase, for example.
In UA, we had minimal conversion criteria to define our goals. GA4 introduced a completely new concept of conversions that should simplify our lives.
Now any event can be marked as a conversion by simply turning on the switch in the GA4 interface. The tool also allows you to create a new conversion based on an existing event by adding new parameters. Forget about the rigid UA goal structure and savor the flexibility of GA4 conversions, coming up with unique tracking solutions.
Another outstanding feature of GA4 you will love is audience triggers. To put it briefly, an audience is a group of people. You can unlock the enormous potential of GA4, building your audiences.
You can set up any conditions you prefer to define the desired group. You’d like to have a group of people from the UK who used Google Chrome while searching your webpage and visited your contact page. Wow, that’s a powerful tool indeed.
However, the coolness of this feature goes way beyond that. In GA4, you can even fire events based on your audiences. It works like this: I want to have an event each time someone joins the group I defined. You can also go further and turn this event into a conversion. As you can see, you have so much power and flexibility with GA4.
We are not done with audiences yet. You might be asking: What else could be so special about it? It is not a secret that Google is investing heavily in machine learning, and we can see the results already.
GA4 rolled out predictive audiences that can help you identify people likely to take a specific action on your webpage. These predictive audiences are our future – the way we can utilize Google’s machine learning to make data-related decisions and simplify our workflow.
With the help of this feature, you can track people who are likely to buy your product within the next seven days or people who are likely to not visit your website in the upcoming seven days. By utilizing these audiences, you could launch a successful remarketing campaign to generate interest in your products or services.
Another remarkable breakthrough is the new reporting interface. You have standard reports at your disposal, such as Acquisition or Engagement. Still, you can also analyze your data with Explorations that go beyond that and help provide detailed insights into the behavior of your clients.
Depending on the questions you would love to answer with our data, you can select a template with a suitable visualization technique. The templates are straightforward to navigate and allow you to make a quick analysis of your data.
In addition, you can easily switch between visualization techniques, looking at your data from different perspectives. You can drill down into the details of a specific business aspect and gain some powerful insights to boost your performance. You can also share these insights with your business partners or colleagues, which is super convenient.
One of the visualization techniques merits special attention, as it is a great leap forward in GA4. Funnel analysis has been improved dramatically compared to UA, as now you can define as many funnels as you wish with any steps you want.
You could get unique reports uncovering some small yet fundamental insights about your customers’ preferences. In particular, this feature lets you visualize people’s steps on your webpage to complete a specific task.
For example, you have an E-commerce store and want to track all steps of your customers on the way to purchase. By configuring this funnel, you would be able to see at what step people give up on buying your products. This information is invaluable in that you can use it to improve your customer journey and encourage them to buy your products.
The last but not the least improvement is BigQuery integration which is now completely free. It is considered one of the most promising features of GA4, as this integration was available for GA360 properties only in UA. This feature might herald a significant shift in data analysis.
It is free now and can help you go beyond the Explorations. Wow, does it also give you a real thrill like me?
The key benefits of using BigQuery are time efficiency and total control over your data. What could be better than reports loading fast and taking full ownership of your data flowing to your data warehouse?
You might think that this tool is flawless, yet nothing is perfect in this world, and you are right. GA4 also has distinct drawbacks, but this would be a topic for a different article.
Undoubtedly, one can lament rapid changes and the necessity to migrate, whereas this could be an exciting opportunity to grow professionally.
GA4 is a powerful tool with multiple useful features that could take your business to a new level. If you are still hesitant, test this tool out. It can offer you real benefits and is still free, which would help you develop a winning marketing strategy.