Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools for measuring and analyzing website traffic. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the platform's latest generation, offering a more advanced and intelligent way of tracking user behavior. In this guide, we’ll take you through the setup process step-by-step, explaining what’s new in GA4 and how it differs from regular Google Analytics.
How is Google Analytics 4 Different from Previous Versions?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest iteration of Google's website analytics tool. It provides a more advanced, sophisticated approach to tracking user behavior and has some significant differences compared to the previous version (Google Analytics Universal). Some of the key differences include the following:
- Data privacy: GA4 takes privacy seriously, with new features to allow data sharing controls and a secure data pipeline.
- Cross-device tracking: The platform can track users across multiple devices and environments, offering a more complete view of their interactions with your website.
- Machine learning: GA4 uses machine learning algorithms to automatically identify patterns and insights in your data, making it easier to gain insights without having to sift through data manually.
- New event tracking: An event-based tracking system allows you to track specific actions taken by users on your website.
- More in-depth insights: More in-depth insights into customer behavior, including customer journey analysis and customer segments.
Features and Benefits of GA4 Setup
With its powerful and advanced capabilities, GA4 provides businesses with valuable insights into their website and campaign performance. From enhanced cross-device tracking to more robust data privacy options, GA4 has many improvements that make it a valuable tool for businesses of all verticals and growth stages.
GA4 is designed with a user-centric approach, allowing organizations to understand customer behavior more deeply. It leverages machine learning algorithms to track and analyze the customer journey across multiple devices, providing a complete view of interactions and conversions. This information can be leveraged to create personalized experiences and optimize marketing efforts.
GA4 provides a comprehensive picture of customer behavior across connected devices. This allows organizations to see how customers interact with the website and how they operate from device to device. It also helps to identify pain points and areas of improvement within the customer experience.
Improved Data CollectionGA4 collects more data than its predecessors by default, making measuring and analyzing customer behavior easier. It automatically collects data from any website or mobile app with the GA4 tracking code installed. Understanding the customer journey has never been easier.
GA4 provides action-oriented analytics that makes it easier than ever to take action based on data-driven insights. It provides a deeper understanding of the customer journey and identifies areas that need improvement to increase conversions.
What's Possible with GA4
Let's delve into the exciting possibilities offered by GA4, including comprehensive user behavior insights, the ability to track interactions across multiple devices, and new data privacy options. Whether you're an experienced analyst or just starting out with web analytics, GA4 offers a wealth of opportunities to get more value from your data and make informed decisions about your strategy.
Understanding the GA4 model
Unlike traditional Google Analytics, GA4 goes beyond website data collection to encompass data from mobile apps and offline interactions. This provides a complete picture of your user's journey and how they interact with your brand. The GA4 model helps you understand your customers better by tracking their interactions with your brand across multiple touchpoints, providing a more nuanced view of their behavior and preferences. By utilizing the GA4 data model, you can make informed decisions that will drive your business forward and help you achieve your goals.
Setting up event tracking
Events are actions taken by users on your website or apps, such as clicks, form submissions, or video plays. In GA4, you can set up event tracking to measure these interactions and gain insight into user behavior.
Tracking and achieving goals
Goals are simply objectives you want to track, such as sales, sign-ups, or contact form submissions. In GA4, you can set up goals to measure how well you track toward achieving these objectives.
GA4 provides several reports to help you understand your audience and their behavior, including:
- Overview Report to get a general picture of your website's performance, including metrics like sessions, users, and conversions.
- Conversion Report provides insights into the actions users take on your website that lead to conversions, such as form submissions or purchases.
- User Report provides a detailed look at individual user behavior, such as sessions, pages per session, and bounce rate.
One of the key benefits of GA4 is its ability to create custom reports. You can select the metrics and dimensions most matter to you and save those reports for future reference. This allows you to focus on the data that is most relevant to your business goals rather than sifting through large amounts of data that may not be relevant. You can also share custom reports with others in your organization, making it easier to collaborate and make informed decisions.
In GA4, you can share reports with others in your organization, giving them access to the same insights you have. You can also export reports for those outside of GA4.
Integrating with other tools
GA4 integrates with other Google tools, such as Google Tag Manager, Google Ads, and Google Optimize, to provide a more complete view of your digital marketing efforts. The tool also connects with third-party tools. For example, GA4 seamlessly integrates with HubSpot, providing a comprehensive and unified view of your digital marketing efforts.
By combining data from GA4 with your HubSpot account, you can understand your website's performance, customer behavior, and marketing campaigns in-depth. This integration enables you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your marketing efforts to drive more traffic and leads. With GA4 and HubSpot, you can monitor key metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, and strategic opportunities.
Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up GA4
Setting up GA4 may seem daunting at first, but with the right guidance, the process can be straightforward and hassle-free. This section provides a step-by-step guide to setting up GA4, covering everything from creating a GA4 property to implementing tracking on your website.
Create A Google Analytics Account
To get started with Google Analytics 4, you'll need to set up a Google account. If you already have one from prior usage of Analytics 3.0 or another Google product like Google Ads, sign in and click “Access Analytics” for the fourth version. Otherwise, create a new account and click the “Sign Up” button to set up your GA4 dashboard.
After you’ve created an account, you will then be able to create an Analytics 4 property. This is like starting a new project for your website—it allows Google to track, quantify and organize the data from that page. When creating a new property, you’ll have to set up what kind of tracking code you plan to use (i.e., global site tag or gtag), and designate whether it will track all of your pages, just certain ones, or certain user-based events.
Then, all that's left is to enter your web domain URL and select any additional settings before finally clicking “Create Property” and moving on to setting up events and goals within Google Analytics 4.
Configure Property & Data Stream
Once your Google Analytics 4 account is set up, you will need to configure the property for a data stream for your website or application. To start, go to your homepage and click “Data Stream" then “Create Stream." Once the Data Stream configuration process is complete, set up your reporting view properties, such as user-defined currency code. Enable any additional analytics dimensions and metrics relevant to your business goals.
You will also want to configure Universal Analytics events, which are used to measure different types of user engagement. The most common ones are page view, screen view, video play, and e-commerce tracking. You can preview the events you have configured through the Google Analytics 4 Test Console (a feature on the property settings tab). Once you have finished configuring your data stream, review and save all of your changes.
Finally, install or update the Google Analytics 4 code on your site or application to collect website data and report it in the platform in real-time.
Install Google Analytics Gtag Code
After setting up your Google Analytics 4 account and configuring it , you must install the Global Tag (gtag) code on all your website pages or application screens. This is the same code used in Classic Analytics, but with a few tweaks for GA4 compatibility. Copy and paste the provided gtag tracking code snippet before the tag in your HTML file on each page. Once updated, remember to save any changes you make and then open each page to ensure it’s working correctly. If everything looks ok, you’re ready to start collecting data!
Before we install the tag, there’s one last step to complete: setting up a cross-domain tracking feature if you need to track and compare data across multiple websites or apps. This gives you enhanced visibility when analyzing how users interact with multiple properties simultaneously. Head back to Google Analytics 4 to set this up - it only takes a few minutes and makes a huge difference in performance comparisons across domains.
Verify Proper Tracking is Working on Your Site
Once the gtag tracking code is installed, it’s time to verify that proper tracking is working on your website or application. To do this, go to Google Analytics and use the Real-time report to validate that data is being sent correctly for each of your pages. If any page isn’t working properly, you may need to troubleshoot and ensure the code snippet has been added correctly. You may also need to update any page URLs if they were changed during implementation.
Real-time reports can also help you monitor additional data points you recently implemented, such as e-commerce transactions. With the Real-time report, you can look at product views, add-to-cart events, transactions, and more. If any events appear incorrect or missing, this could be an indication that something is not configured correctly. Reviewing the Real-time report can provide assurance that your tracking is working properly and should be utilized throughout Google Analytics 4 setup for troubleshooting any issues.
Detect and Set Up Events for Tracking
You’ll also want to identify and set up events on your website or application that you may be interested in tracking. Measuring these events provides valuable insight into user behavior, which helps you understand how users interact with your content and can help inform changes that could help optimize their experience. To add an event tracking code snippet, you need to edit the existing gtag code and insert the proper tag.
Once you have added the code snippets to your page, you can use GA4 to track when users click the link or take action. To set up event tracking in GA4, log into your Google Analytics 4 account and select “Events” from the left-hand side menu. From there, you can create an event group (such as Clicks) and then add individual events underneath (for example, an “About Us Page Link Click”). After setting up events, you can analyze metrics and view reports that show which pages had the most event actions and other related information. Once set up properly, events become invaluable for understanding user behavior on your website.
Optimize Your Website and Marketing Campaigns
With the data from your GA4 property, you now have a wealth of insights to improve your website and marketing campaigns. Our experts recommend focusing on enhancing the user experience, optimizing marketing efforts, and boosting conversions. By using GA4's reports and customizing them to your specific needs, you can gain a deeper understanding of your audience and their behavior.
By integrating with tools like HubSpot, you can even further refine your strategy for maximum impact. With a well-optimized website and marketing campaigns, you'll be well on your way to driving more traffic, boosting conversions, and exceeding your KPI benchmarks.
Google Analytics 4 provides a new, advanced level of data tracking and analysis for digital marketers. With its cutting-edge features and integration capabilities, GA4 enables you to understand your customer journey and marketing campaigns better.
Consult world-class web strategy, development, and user experience experts to get the most value from your website and marketing investments. By working with New Breed's experts, you can learn how to optimize your website and digital marketing efforts for maximum impact and success. Whether you're looking to increase traffic, drive conversions, or improve the user experience, a free website assessment can help you get more value out of your most important marketing and sales investment.
Victoria is an expert copywriter and a leading creative force at New Breed. She's a true wordsmith passionate about storytelling, UX, and a nice cup of coffee.