In this Google Analytics 4 training webinar, we took business owners through how to successfully transition to Google Analytics 4 and finished with an insightful Q&A session at the end of the webinar.

This webinar was delivered by our Digital Strategist at ProfileTree, Stephen McClelland. At ProfileTree, our main focus centres around Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), web design and digital support online. As a business, our primary goal centres around training and providing online solutions. Stephen’s main focus is providing guidance and strategic planning around using analytics for your business, but most importantly, why you should be using it and why you should be transitioning correctly to GA4.

Google Analytics 4 Training: What Is GA4 and How Can We Use It?

So, let’s go into an introduction to what GA4 actually is and how it can be used in your business. If you’re using Universal Analytics, also known as GA3, we want to encourage you to make that switch to GA4.

The first thing we want to consider is that GA4 is the latest iteration of Google Analytics, converted just over twelve months ago, and will forcibly be phased in the next couple of weeks and months. There’s been a very strong prompt towards the first of July deadline as the cutoff date to migrate to GA4, which emphasises the need for Google Analytics 4 training.

So, what is GA4? GA4 is the latest iteration of Google Analytics. When we talk about iteration, GA4 isn’t just the next continuation or a quick update. This is a brand-new data model, and that’s important for a couple of reasons for Google Analytics 4 training.

An Overview of Our Google Analytics 4 Training Webinar

1. How the data is captured: Google has had to change the data that they collect and how they handle the data due to the GDPR compliance privacy policy. As a result of this, on 1st July 2023, we will be moved to GA4 and Universal Analytics (GA3) will stop tracking and processing data. 

2. GA4 will stop tracking data: This means that from 1st July 2023, anyone that’s still using Universal Analytics data will stop being collected and you will either be forced to GA4 if Google hasn’t already, or you will have to make the move yourself. 

3. Changes to data: As part of this new data model, the previous data you will have can either be exported to a third party, or you can take it to one of Google’s own services. After twelve months, the data will most likely be lost. Therefore, this is a significant change to the data model and this new data model is much more compliant for data protection security.

Google Analytics 4 Training: How Will This Benefit Marketers and Analysts?

One of the big things for us as marketers and analysts is that GA4 is built exclusively on events and parameters. This means the detail and the data that are accessible to you are much broader than before and allow you to really narrow down the details in your reporting.

Another big advancement for this new data model to consider during Google Analytics 4 training is the integration and the potential support of machine learning technology. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are highly on the horizon as it’s coming to everything that we do, which is evident through the use of Chat GPT.

Machine learning insights have been shown through GA4 and it’s going to become smarter and far more advanced. Therefore, it is going to help us understand the key points and the data that we’re looking for at a glance during Google Analytics 4 training and beyond.

Another key benefit of GA4 is that it has a much better comprehension of understanding user journeys across different devices and platforms. From the web to mobile and smartphone, will have a much better measurement capability for detailed analysis. 

Therefore, we will then have many better-integrated services with the Google platform. So, when it comes to Google, Google Ads, and the YouTube space, we have Google signals and that’s going to really help us integrate our all-around marketing strategy for return on investment.

Google Analytics 4 Training
Google Analytics 4 Training: Key Benefits

Google Analytics 4 Training: What Is The Main Difference Between GA3 and GA4?

The best way to explain the difference between Universe Analytics and Google Analytics 4 is similar to the idea of signing up for a preparation service, such as the UK food box providing service, HelloFresh. The idea behind this comparison is that HelloFresh is a pre-packaged service, where you have your recipe card and your ingredients. 

In comparison, GA4 has similar elements, however, it is similar to going into a supermarket or grocery store where all the ingredients, the data, and the food choices are there. In essence, everything you want is at the supermarket. Similarly, the data in GA4 is all there! However, it might not always come in pre-packaged free box scenarios, where you’ve got all the views already set up, and that’s one of the biggest frustrations that a lot of marketers or small business owners have when they make the move to the GA4 during their Google Analytics 4 training.

Google Analytics 4 Training
Google Analytics 4 Training: UA Vs. GA4

However, the biggest way to explain it is that GA4 has much better performance and it’s got much more data that it refers to as parameters. So, it’s really looking at the opportunities that are available for you as a small business or a medium-sized business, to take that data and understand it beyond the Google Analytics 4 training.

Google Analytics 4 Training: How Can The GA4 Data Be Used?

The most significant way that the GA4 data can be used beyond your Google Analytics 4 training is that GA4 tracks multiple conversion events per user. An example here would be if someone came onto your website, and let’s say you are a service such as a human resources consultancy, and you want to track how someone navigates your website or an inquiry form. 

On Universal Analytics, whenever someone went onto your website it measured what’s called ‘hits’, so if you opened the page and viewed the page, that was hit. Now, if you scroll down the page and click on your newsletter, fill out the newsletter, and you want to track that conversion. That would track as a conversion within that same setting. Within that same period, if you then went to fill in the inquiry form and that was the last thing that you did, that would actually be the only event that would convert. It wouldn’t track the newsletter sign-up or someone who followed you on social media.

Now, GA4 attracts multiple conversion events per user, meaning someone could go onto your website, scroll to the bottom, and fill out the newsletter and that will be stored in the conversion tracking. Therefore, we will have much more insightful data which is referred to as ‘advantage tracking’. Google Analytics is now no longer just about looking at what’s the top performing pages and where was the source of the traffic, but it’s actually about what are people doing on our website, if they’re scrolling to the bottom, and also finding faults or flaws on our websites. 

Another key way to get the most out of one of GA4 when going through Google Analytics 4 training is through enhanced measurement. It’s really important to have some of these features enabled so that we can understand our user activity and how they’re engaging. Before GA4, we had to utilise things like Google Tag Manager and third-party tracking software. However, GA4 is going to come with more options and more powerful tools at our disposal so that we can create and run the reports all from GA4. You’ll see the ability to create custom reports and this allows you to really fine-tune that process and how we want to track that information.

Finally, cross-domain traffic is now much more accessible. With Data Streams, this is much easier to do when it comes to customary tracking or even tracking alongside a mobile or smartphone application for iOS or Android. 

Google Analytics 4 Training
Google Analytics 4 Training: What Has Changed?

Google Analytics 4 Training: Key Differences From UA To GA4

  1. Data Retention: In line with GDPR policy within the EU, this impacts the length of time that data can be tracked and stored. On GA3, your average timeline could extend this, meaning you could set it to Limitless or Unlimited and it would never expire. With data retention, the average was 26 months. However, with GA4, the maximum you can actually set is 14 months. Despite this, there is still a level of information that’s there as we’re still going to see the top performing pages and page views, but it’s the more granular level detail that gets removed from the server. Therefore, it will focus more on behaviour and engagement time, while looking at sessions.
  2. Data Update Time: Previously on Universal Analytics, you would have seen data reflected fairly quickly normally at least within 24 hours. With GA4, it seems to be taking 48 hours to make some of those changes. 
  3. Bounce Rate Replaced with Engagement Time: Google Analytics is used to measure how quickly people arrived at your website and then left. However, GA4 is now focused on how users are engaging on your website. Engagement time is going to be the new key metric. 

So, what would count towards engagement time? This metric is anything longer than 10 seconds, such as opening a home page and spending more than 10 seconds looking at the page. This would count as an engagement conversion. Next is a conversion event. So, if someone opened your website and went straight to a contact form and fill out the form, that would also count as engagement. 

Google Analytics Training 4: Migrating To GA4

Google is highly promoting the setup assistant which sometimes automatically moves your data across. If your Universal Analytics is set up in such a way for event tracking, or if you’ve got custom reports and custom audience groups, the setup assistant may not be the best choice for you. Therefore, for those that have conversion tracking advanced, custom audience groups and custom reports set up, you will want to go through the steps and that’s using the setup assistant.

When making the move to GA4, you want to go to the Admin panel located in the bottom left corner of your Economics. When you click on Admin, you’ll see the Account Property and View Information. This is where you will see the GA4 setup assistant. 

Click ‘Connect to your GA4 property’. This will then open a new tab and will bring you through to the setup assistant. If you forget to go through this process after the 1st of July, Google will automatically do a very basic migration. If you’ve got a site, and from a long time ago, you might want to think about creating a new property just in case. 

The data that’s coming over to GA4 is really just going to be what you’ve actually set up, such as your events and conversions. It’s not a case of moving and then being able to look back six months on GA4 for what your old analytics was doing. It’s almost like starting from scratch! 

When you open the assistant, you’re going to see a series of sections. This is a good checklist to go through to help you with the setup process. The first thing we advise you to do is to follow the setup assistant and go through the steps.

The first one will be to collect website and app data. This is important because this is what people refer to as the Data Stream. You can also go to your Admin panel and you will see Data Streams, which is where we can add multiple streams for different types of devices.

For reference, you can go ahead and create a property from scratch and create a brand new GA4 property, however, the setup assistant does just help connect these together. When you go into data streams, this is where we can add multiple streams for different types of devices. 

Google Analytics 4 Training: Enhanced Measurement

One of the most beneficial enhanced measurements included in GA4 is video engagement and file downloads. Video engagement simply looks at what your audience is watching from your embedded YouTube videos and if they are watching the full duration of the videos. File downloads include being able to track how many people are downloading files from your website, such as a PDF file. These are just some of the enhanced management units that Google will have to offer and we would encourage you to turn those on unless you’re already setting up custom events.

Google Analytics 4 Training
Google Analytics 4 Training: Enhanced Measurement

You also have more custom settings where we have the ability to modify events and parameters. If you do have custom events or you’ve embedded or imported events from Universal Analytics, you will be able to modify those in here. A beneficial step to implement to filter traffic so that your own visits to your website or visits from staff members won’t skew your data. To do this, you need to go to the Stream URL and you’ll see here the Google Configure Tag Settings.

When you click on Configure Tag Settings, you can define internal traffic to Google and this will allow you to add your office or home IP address and that will then filter out those results. You can also list unwanted referrals in these settings. This may be useful if you have an e-commerce website and a customer has made a purchase through PayPal, and then they redirect the back of the website so you don’t necessarily need to track that information as a referral source. Another thing you can also change here is your session timeout to decide when you would like to track new sessions after someone has left and returned to your website. 

However, if Google does the auto migration for you, it is not going to enable those enhanced measurements that we looked at, such as filtering, so it’s important to go through each of those steps and determine what you would like to use. 

Google Analytics 4 Training: The Main Tabs in GA4

Previously on Universal Analytics, we would have had a series of different types of information. We would have had different tabs down the left-hand side from user acquisition, traffic source, behaviour, technology, and other different types of metrics. When we look at GA4, you’ll notice that the dashboard is much more refined when it comes to the information that’s there. 

Reporting is where you will be most familiar with the likes of your dashboard, including your traffic acquisition, user behaviour, monetisation, and location. For example, you’ll be able to see the breakdown between organic traffic, pay-per-click, and referral sources from social media. 

When we’re looking at tools like user acquisition, you might want to see the actual referral sources. With GA4, you can filter to see where audiences came from, such as Google Search, Facebook, Bing, etc. It is important to be aware of this because it allows you to break it down by both source and medium, and you can start to see where the majority of your traffic is coming from. We can then look at the engagement rate and we can start to see what has given us the most engagement and what referrals are getting the most value in terms of our business. 

Google Analytics 4 Training: How Does Engagement Work In GA4?

For example, if you utilise pay-per-click ads, you can look at where the engagement is coming from. If there is a lack of engagement, it could mean your content isn’t helpful enough or you’re not offering the right information. This is just an example of how you can very quickly see some of the data that has been collected by Google. You can do the same for traffic acquisition, meaning that you can look at a quick overview of events and see how events are being tracked in Google GA4. 

If you have never utilised this feature in Universal Analytics, this is the perfect time for you to make that move to GA4 and start to create some of those enhanced measurement events where you can start to see some of the basics such as a scroll and form submissions to understand not just the traffic and where it’s coming from, but what pages are getting the most engagement and clicks.

Google Analytics 4 Training: Events and Parameters

When we have a look at GA4 events and event parameters, these are some of the key components when it comes to tracking user activity and tracking engagement. GA4’s new data model is solely based on events and parameters. GA4 is a lot more interactive than Universal Analytics as it tracks almost what every single user is doing on the page, their device, their location, and their activity. This allows us flexibility to create more interactive formats and more interactive reports to look at that information. So, parameters are the detail that is captured such as what page were users on, a social media button that they clicked on, etc. 

Businesses can still create custom events for specific needs and certain requirements. Google Tag Manager can be used to track custom events. We also have enhanced management where we have the ability to track our scrolls, our button clicks, site search, video engagement, and more. 

In summary, the home tab gives you your main insights for your analytics. With GA4, you almost have to go into each of the reports and each of the dashboards to find specific information. One thing that’s recently changed in Google Analytics is automated reporting. Google has not enabled this feature at the moment, so we used to be able to receive a weekly or a monthly report automatically through an email address. 

Google Analytics 4 Training
Google Analytics 4 Training: Creating Events and Event Parameters

Instead, Google wants you to use Google Studio to do that, and as a result, you can use Google Studio to set up automated reporting within GA4. In the Google Studio setup, we have the ability here to share a link and we can ensure that then it’s a read-only link to share with a colleague to have a look at our analytics. We could download this as a PDF or an appropriate file type. 

We also have customised reports which are very simple at the moment. When we look at path exploration, we can then start to create custom events. For example, if we’re interested in finding out which page is getting the most traffic from the source, that’s something that’s actually very easy to do. Different types of engagement features are available, such as adding filters and comparing to different profiles or different pages. These are all things that you can do when it comes to path exploration! 

Google Analytics 4 Training: Explore Tab

We then have Explore and this is something that is interesting. With this, we want to try and find out more specific information such as which pages are getting the most traffic from organic search and what’s getting the most value. We also have funnel exploration which is fantastic for e-commerce websites or even service-based websites that have a particular funnel to follow that could be the e-commerce flow in terms of how users land on the site, engage with the content, add to their basket, and check out. 

Path exploration allows us to look at behavioural flow in terms of how users navigate the website, which you can look at from both the start of the journey and the end of the journey. You can also see how users got to that end-stage you can do that as well, along with a massive gallery of other options you can use within the templates.

For example, if you have an e-commerce website and wanted to look at transactions versus what pages users are visiting to make those transactions, we could do that using path exploration. To do this, you can add a value and a metric to review consumer behaviour. To customise this a little further, you can add the source, such as Google or Facebook, and user medium. 

Therefore, we can review filtered information and can share this with a colleague to review that information. From here, you can look at the top-performing pages that are getting the most engagement or getting the most form submissions and determine how to increase the time and engagement on these pages. Or, you can look at pages that aren’t getting form submissions or perhaps aren’t getting that love and attention and start to break down the reasons why this is. We encourage you to have a bit of fun with the reports and see what works best for you and your business! This is simply one example of using path exploration out of the several possibilities with GA4. 

Google Analytics 4 Training:
Google Analytics 4 Training: How to Use GA4

Google Analytics 4 Training: Google Tag Manager

One of the really powerful tools that you can use now at your disposal is a platform called Google Tag Manager. We really encourage you to have a look at Google Tag Manager as there are lots of resources here to utilise and we will be doing more webinars and tutorials on our channels about this in the future. Google Tag Manager is a free resource that Google uses which allows you to help track what’s referred to as ‘tags’ and ‘triggers’ on your website.

Let’s say you want to track a free phone number or a consultation button on your website. You can use Google Tag Manager to identify the button you it to watch if someone triggers it through a click or by viewing it for a certain amount of time. You can then get an event to be created in GA4, which is very significant for GA4 because it allows you to set up custom events, and these custom events will give you a much clearer and much better understanding of your conversions and what people are actually doing on your website.

If you’re thinking that the enhanced measurement is all you need, Google Tag Manager might not be an option, however, it’s still good to know that it’s there for you to use. The wonderful thing about Google Tag Manager is as soon as you’ve added the tag, it gives you two bits of code to add to the website. Once again, there are plugins on a lot of these builders but as soon as you add that code to the website, it will allow you to implement these tags without the need to know or code anything on the site. 

You might need to know how to look at code and see what’s there but this will allow you to actually track particular events that are being fired without the need for you to go into your website and start coding things up. It also allows you to tag various examples, so if you’re using the likes of Google AdWords, it can use this in Google Analytics and you’ll be able to track that information together under one roof. The key benefit of using Google Tag Manager with GA4 is that advanced custom event tracking and custom dimensions are a different level of advanced tracking. 

Google Analytics 4 Training: Setting Up Google Tag Manager

For those that haven’t set up Google Tag Manager before, it’s very simple! 

  1. Go to the Google search results and type in ‘Google Tag Manager’. You can then get started by clicking ‘Sign in’. As long as you have a Google account, you can create an account for free. 
  2. When you open Google Tag Manager, you will have the ability to create a new account you can left-click on ‘Create new account’ and start to follow the details on the screen. It’s a very simple setup and the only bit that’s a bit more advanced, depending on how much access you have to your own website, is the code.
  3. There are two pieces of code you need to add, which is one clip ahead of the website which will track all of your core pages and there’s one code for the body. This will allow you to track your events and tags that fire on each specific page.
  4. It is really important that you set this up correctly because making a mistake on this might result in incorrect or invalid data being sent back to Google Tag Manager and to GA4.
  5.  Your measurement ID is really important when you set this up. Our measurement ID can be found in GA4 if we go down to the bottom left corner in the ‘Admin’ and go to ‘Data Streams’. Once you click on your web stream, you will see your measurement ID on the right-hand side. 

Google Tag Manager is actually very easy once you start to understand where things are located. At the top, we have the workspace which allows you to see the history and the changes that have been made and who made these changes. We then have the Admin console which allows you to see the users that are added in the workspace. Overall, the workspace is an overview that shows you what tags have been created recently and if there is anything in place at the moment. The tags are really important as they allow us to create custom events.

Next, we have triggers, such as a click, a form of submission, scrolling down a page for 60 seconds, etc. We also have variables which are the data actually collected now when you set up a new Google Tag Manager account. 

Once you’ve got Google Tag Manager connected to your site, you’re going to want to do is to create a tag for a GA4 configuration. This tells Google Tag Manager to effectively trigger all pages on the website. Google Tag Manager is a powerful tool to add to your GA4 and receive beneficial data.

Google Analytics 4 Training
Google Analytics 4 Training: Setting Up Google Tag Manager

This webinar covered the basics of the GA4 setup and Google Analytics 4 training and provides business owners with a clearer idea about how their Google Analytics will change and how to maximise the benefits of GA4.

To learn more about GA4, the migration process, and Google Analytics 4 training, get in touch with ProfileTree today!

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