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Google Analytics 4: With Machine Learning, An Even More Granular And Dynamic Map Of Users’ Online Behavior

The transition from a logic of “observation” of behavior to one of evaluation of the visitor’s “interactions” is the underlying theme of the review of the suite. A look at the main KPIs replaced and updated to keep up with a changing digital world. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) represents an opportunity for marketers today. It allows you to obtain a complete view of the Customer Journey, personalize data collection, better protect user privacy, and create effective integrations with other digital marketing platforms. If you still have some doubts, in view of the “GA Universal sunset” on July 1, 2023, let’s delve into the advantages and innovations of the new platform.

What Is Google Analytics 4

It was officially launched in 2020 and represents an evolution of the previous version of Google Analytics (GAU or Universal Analytics). GA4 intends to provide a more complete view of user behavior on websites and apps, thanks to the use of technology based on Machine Learning. Furthermore, GA4 aims to provide greater flexibility in data configuration and improved ability to customize reports or “reports.”

The New Features: What Else GA4 Offers

Among the main new features of GA4 are:

  • Improved events – “events,” which were previously “macro-conversions,” can now be defined more flexibly and allow you to record more specific user actions, such as viewing a video or adding a product to a cart.
  • Integration with Google Ads – GA4 is fully integrated with Google Ads, which allows you to analyze the effectiveness of advertising campaigns better and optimize them based on the site’s organic data.
  • Collection of multiple data sources – GA4 is designed to integrate various data sources, such as user data from apps and the web. It allows you to analyze their behavior across different devices and channels from an omnichannel perspective.
  • Advanced Machine Learning features – new analytics and algorithms to provide a better understanding of user behavior and intentions, to create custom audiences for remarketing campaigns.

Also Read: Google Search Console: What It Is For And How To Install It

Why Switch To Google Analytics 4

Beyond the fact that starting from July 1, 2023, traditional Google Analytics will no longer be available, there are at least three other different reasons to adopt GA4:

  • On July 23, 2022, the Privacy Guarantor declared the use of Universal Analytics (GA3) on websites unlawful, as there is no guarantee that user data will be processed in accordance with the law.
  • GA4 is an “event-centric” model. eCommerce management, therefore, unlike what happened with previous versions, can be achieved through a simple event-based model, overcoming the limits of a session-based tracking system. Tracking, therefore, is much more accurate and granular because, in GA4, there are many more events mapped.
  • Google’s Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning models (currently in the beta phase) are integrated into GA4. This technology represents indispensable support for marketers because it allows them to predict future user actions by thinking from a Predictive Custom Audience perspective to create personalized audiences for remarketing campaigns.

How To Migrate To The New Version

Migrating from Google Analytics (GA) to the new version of GA4 can be a complex process: it is important to plan the migration in a strategic and controlled way, carefully test the new configuration, and monitor the data to verify that everything is recorded without anomalies. In the absence of a specialized department within your organization, consider turning to an agency specialized in Analytics or a professional Data Analyst.

However, Google has provided both a reasonable amount of time and some guidelines to allow companies to adapt. It is essential to remember, in fact, that the “deadline” for the transition to GA4 is set for July 1, 2023, but Big G has already been encouraging users to migrate to GA4 for months. Additionally, starting mid-2022, all new Google Analytics accounts are automatically created as GA4 accounts.

Once you have a GA4 account, you need to install the GA4 tag on your website or app alongside your existing GA tag, configure your custom variables and data to ensure that the two systems – old and new – are consistent and “talk to each other,” configure the custom events, then use the data import tool from Universal in the new GA4 property. Finally, perform tests and checks to verify that events are recorded correctly and that data is consistent between GA and GA4.

The New Metrics: What They Are And What They Are For

GA4 includes new metrics that go in the direction of adapting to the new way of using the web, to the latest possible channels available, and to the KPIs, already essential in other types of digital contexts, such as social media, where interaction is central. With all due respect to marketers who are now accustomed to certain types of labels and controls, some KPIs will be replaced and updated to keep up with the changing digital world.

Here are 5 “new” metrics that become important in the new Analytics configuration:

  • Engagement Rate – a metric that calculates the percentage of sessions in which users engaged with the content of the website or application, including interaction with elements such as video, scroll, tap, swipe, and more;
  • Monetization Metrics – allow you to monitor the monetary value of user activities, such as transaction value, conversion rate, and average order value;
  • User Lifetime – to track user lifetime, i.e. the time a user has interacted with the website or application;
  • Engagement Time – the average time of user interaction with the website or application;
  • Video Engagement – ​​​​ie the amount of time users spend watching videos on a website or app.

From a logic of mere “visit,” therefore, to a reason of interaction, which is in a certain sense the common thread of the entire restructuring of the new Analytics suite.

Google Analytics 4 And User Privacy: The New Data Management Policies

The development of the platform takes user privacy into even more significant consideration than the previous version. Some new data management policies allow users to have more control over their sensitive information. Not only that, there are features that mask user data and protect their privacy, such as obscuring the IP address intended as sensitive data that could lead to the identification of the individual. Finally, the new policies provide that GA4 data will be retained for a maximum of 14 months, after which it will be automatically deleted.

Google Analytics 4 To Optimize Website Performance

The tools are specifically structured to allow you to collect and compare data relating to an organization’s digital properties so that you can make informed decisions about how they are performing, what is best to optimize, and what is best to divest. GA4, in particular, given its greater focus on user interaction with sites and apps, shifts the focus to an even more concrete perspective of conversion, exchange, and reciprocity between companies and online users. It also offers advanced analytics features that can help identify patterns in user behavior and provide suggestions to improve site performance.

Event Management In GA4: Track User Actions

There are some significant differences between GA Universal events and GA4 events, which go – as already mentioned – in the direction of increasingly greater flexibility and customization.

Events in GA4 are classified into four main categories: automatic, enhanced, user registration, and custom. The first three are created automatically and provide an increasingly more significant degree of detail of user actions. At the same time, the last can be added “freely” by the operator according to specific company tracking objectives. Event reports are also presented differently than in GAU, with more detailed information on user activities and the use of advanced analytics.

Integrate Google Analytics 4 With Other Digital Marketing And Analytics Tools

GA4 can be integrated with other tools in the Google suite and also with external platforms to have a more complete vision of digital marketing activities. For example, in addition to native integration with Google Ads to track paid campaigns, there is also integration with Google Search Console to monitor organic search performance. It is also possible to directly connect GA4 with the main CRMs, such as SalesForce, Hubspot, or Zoho, with email marketing tools, such as MailChimp through Tag Manager, and social media marketing tools, such as Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, and LinkedIn Ads.

Also Read: Marketing Analytics System – What To Know For A Correct Setup