Immediate benefits after switching to GA4

Immediate benefits after switching to GA4

Yes, Universal Analytics is going away in July 1st 2023. Yes, you should deploy GA4 in parallel without waiting, so you can get some data comparison next year after UA is inaccessible. Yes, if you haven’t started the process as I write this (Nov 22), you’re late.

But. You’ve heard all that before and you still haven’t switched. And I can understand why: GA4 is daunting to deploy correctly. There is a new data model and UI to learn. And if you’ve looked at some GA4 properties, you’ve realised it’s currently missing a lot of the default reports from UA you’re likely using. So why bother?

Well, GA4 might still be a work in progress, it’s being built on very solid foundations. So whenever you switch, you’ll get immediate benefits. If used correctly they’ll translate in better results and a competitive advantage.

Here are some of them.

Unlimited custom funnels

Funnel report

In UA, funnels were very, very limited, and unless you were on GA360, you couldn’t really do much with them.

The custom reports in GA4 are called Explorations and one type is a Funnel report. You can create as many of them as you need. And you can set them up exactly as you want: open or closed funnel; steps as page views, events or even based on event parameter values; segmentation, etc.

Simply put, you can define a funnel to track many unique customer journeys throughout your site/app with a flexibility and power that blow out of the water even the UA 360 Funnel capabilities.

A game changer.

Trended funnels

Trended funnel

Do you know how your funnel performance has evolved over time? Were the drop-off points last week different than the week before? How is your funnel performing during sales and non-sales period?

You can see all this by making your funnels “trended funnels”.

Again, game changing tracking. And remember you can get this for any funnel you define.

Pathing reports

Pathing report

The pathing reports in UA are horrendous. Entirely rebuilt in GA4 so you can actually use them. You can do forward pathing (“where did they go after this?”) and backward pathing (“how did they get here?”). You can create nodes based on events or page views.

It’s still pathing but it’s very, very usable now.

Predictive Audiences

GA4 comes with serious machine learning under the hood. Some of it is used to create predictive audiences of users likely to convert in the next 7, 28 days (and more), by spend percentile, by country, etc.

Use those audiences for testing & personalisation, or export them to other Google platforms to use in your media efforts.

Audience creation is much more granular

Creating audiences is now more powerful than ever before in what you configure.
Want to create an audience for customers who came from a specific campaign, via a specific lading page, viewed 3 pages, then a product detail page, then added to cart a pair of shoes that are yellow in colour? Well, you can.

And much more…

All of the above is directly actionable after a couple of weeks of data accumulating. There are a lot more benefits from GA4 to take advantage of:

  • Free BigQuery data streaming: previously exclusive to GA360 customers, now available to all. Stream all your data in real time to BigQuery for advanced analysis and processing.
  • GA4 audiences targeting for Google Optimize: again, previously only available to GA360 customers. Now you can tests & personalisation using this advanced targeting.

And all the key foundational benefits: much more flexible data model, advanced reporting interface, better privacy controls, etc.

Don’t get me wrong though: there are quite a long list of shortcomings and pitfalls to avoid. But there is a lot of powerful benefits to seize immediately after deployment.

It really is worth it for these alone to make the switch sooner rather than later, unless you intend to switch over to another analytics platform after UA is sunset.

I would also get started now if that’s the case! ;-)