Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the latest version of Google's web analytics platform, is officially the new standard for analytics for many companies and businesses. With its event-based tracking approach, GA4 offers marketers and businesses a more comprehensive understanding of user behavior and engagement on their websites and apps than was previously offered under Universal Analytics. If you’re still uncertain how to approach this new normal, use this plan to guide the next 30 to 60 days (as well as check-ins at 6 and 12 months) to make the transition to GA4 simple and productive.
30 Days: Your GA4 Optimization Plan
1. Aligning metrics with organizational goals
The first step towards optimizing GA4 digital marketing analytics is aligning metrics with your organization's business goals. Understand the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter the most to your business and ensure that your GA4 implementation captures relevant data. Identify the events and conversions that align with your goals, such as form submissions, page views, video completions, and more.
2. Extracting data as soon as possible
It's essential to extract and back up your historical data to ensure you have access to important insights before you lose access to it on July 1, 2024. While GA4 can automatically create properties, it may not capture all the data you need. Hence, take the time to export your historical data sooner rather than later, including user behavior and conversions, to avoid any data gaps in the future.
3. Using the Google Ads Links Migration Tool
For website and app owners who want to link their Google Analytics 4 property to the same Google Ads account(s) as their Universal Analytics property, the Google Ads Links Migration Tool is valuable. By importing Google Ads links from your Universal Analytics property to GA4, you'll start seeing Google Ads data in your GA4 reports. Follow these steps to import the links:
a) Click Admin in Google Analytics.
b) Select the Google Analytics 4 property in the Property column.
c) Go to Link to Google Ads and choose Import from Universal Analytics.
d) Select the Google Ads links you want to import and click Import selected Ads links.
e) Take necessary actions in your Google Ads account to use the imported data effectively.
4. Importing conversions into Google Ads
To use your GA4 conversion events for reporting and bidding in Google Ads, you need to import them. This enables better tracking of your Google Ads performance and empowers Smart Bidding strategies. Before doing so, link your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts and enable auto-tagging in Google Ads. Then, follow these steps to import conversions:
a) Sign in to your Google Ads account and go to Measurement > Conversions.
b) Click + New conversion action and select Google Analytics 4 properties.
c) Choose the conversion events you want to import and click Import and continue.
5. Tracking custom events
Take advantage of GA4's event-based tracking and define custom events that align with your marketing goals. Identify specific user actions, such as form submissions, file downloads, video interactions, and more, and implement tracking for these events if it’s not already set up. This granular tracking will provide deeper insights into user behavior and campaign effectiveness.
60 Days: Going deeper into GA4 features
Once you've established a solid foundation with GA4, you can focus on expanding your analytics capabilities. Here’s your plan for the next 60 days:
1. Setting up audience sources
Audiences play a crucial role in digital marketing, and GA4 provides powerful audience management features. Set up audience sources to leverage first-party data from various touch points such as website visitors, app users, video viewers, and more. These audience sources will enable you to create targeted campaigns and deliver personalized experiences to your audience.
2. Developing an actionable measurement plan
Create a measurement plan specific to GA4, considering the event-based tracking methodology. Review your existing tracking plan, align it with your business and website goals, and identify the metrics and goals that require tracking. Leverage Google Looker Studio, formerly Google Data Studio, to build customized reports and gain deeper insights from your GA4 data.
6 Months: Expanding the Functionality of GA4
At the 6-month mark, digital marketers should have a solid understanding of GA4 and have implemented the foundational elements of their analytics strategy. Now, it's time to focus on advanced data analysis, testing, and data migration. Here's what you should consider:
1. Advanced data analysis
Utilize advanced analysis in GA4: Leverage the Advanced Analysis features in GA4 to gain deeper insights into user behavior, conversion paths, and audience segmentation. Experiment with funnel analysis, path analysis, and cohort analysis to uncover valuable patterns and opportunities for optimization.
Implement custom dimensions and metrics: Identify additional custom dimensions and metrics that align with your business goals and set them up in GA4. Custom dimensions and metrics allow you to track and analyze specific user interactions that are unique to your business.
2. A/B testing and experimentation:
Run A/B tests: You can utilize Google Optimize for now, though it will be sunsetting soon. Look at other A/B testing tools, like VWO, to experiment with different variations of your website or app. Test changes to content, layout, and calls-to-action to improve conversion rates and user experience.
Analyze experiment results: Use GA4 to analyze the results of your A/B tests and determine which variations are most effective in achieving your desired outcomes. Apply the insights gained from successful experiments to optimize your website or app further.
3. Data export before July 1, 2024:
Ensure historical data migration: Before July 1, 2024, ensure that all historic data from Universal Analytics is exported and saved. This includes both standard data (e.g., page views, events) and any custom dimensions and metrics used in Universal Analytics.
Validate data accuracy: After exporting historical data, validate its accuracy and consistency with your previous Universal Analytics reports. Ensure that key metrics and dimensions align correctly to maintain data integrity.
12 Months: Tapping into the full power of GA4
By the 12-month mark, digital marketers should have fully integrated GA4 into their analytics workflows and be maximizing its potential. Here are some best practices for long-term optimization:
1. Cross-platform user journey tracking:
Implement enhanced ecommerce tracking: If you operate an e-commerce website, take advantage of GA4's enhanced ecommerce tracking capabilities. Monitor product performance, shopping behavior, and sales funnels to identify opportunities for revenue growth and user experience improvements.
Cross-platform tracking: Extend your tracking capabilities to cover cross-platform user journeys. With GA4's ability to track users across web and app platforms, you can gain a holistic view of user interactions, even when users switch devices.
2. Enhanced personalization and user engagement:
Utilize AI-driven insights: GA4 incorporates machine learning to provide valuable insights into user behavior and trends. Leverage these AI-driven insights to personalize user experiences and improve user engagement.
Implement user-centric events: Create user-centric events that capture specific interactions and behaviors, such as sign-ups, subscriptions, or downloads. These events can serve as triggers for personalized messaging and targeted marketing campaigns.
3. Data governance and compliance:
Implement data governance framework: Establish a data governance framework to ensure data accuracy, security, and compliance with privacy regulations. Regularly audit your data collection processes to identify and address any potential issues.
Comply with privacy regulations: Stay informed about changes to data privacy regulations and adapt your data collection and usage practices accordingly. Ensure that you provide clear and transparent information to users about data collection and usage.
Now is the perfect time for an analytics expert
Workshop Digital is a Google Premier Partner that has been using GA4 since 2020. These recommendations are based on our experiences over the first days, weeks, and months of an implementation. Follow them to help your business make the most of GA4's advanced capabilities for more accurate data, better tracking of the entire lead-to-sales pipeline, and better attribution showing the work your marketing is doing to help your company. It’s a lot to consider, and optimizing GA4 digital marketing analytics is an ongoing process that requires continuous learning, testing, and adaptation.
Getting comfortable with a new analytics platform can cause a strain on your resources, pulling employees away from other important tasks as they work through the learning curve. Having a supporting agency like Workshop Digital for the first year can give your company the stability it needs to continue tracking leads and customers without any breaks in reliable data. Contact us today, and we’ll talk through a custom solution to get you up and running in GA4.