The big event: 8 ways you can use GA4 to your advantage

Anna-Louise McDougall
Last Updated:
September 22, 2023
8 min read

It's nearly been a month since the analytics apocalypse, 11 years of digital decision-making based on Universal Analytics came to an end this July.

It's all over - your data has officially stopped syncing from your beloved Google Analytics 3 property. So, since we didn’t exactly have a say in the matter, we might as well get to know the upside of Google Analytics 4 and learn how it’s going to transform the day-to-day lives of eCommerce managers. 

GA4 is essentially the new generation of Google Analytics, built around being able to help you make better business decisions with more streamlined data. The fact that you’re pulling your hair out trying to learn GA4 is because it is extremely customizable. Overwhelmingly so, however, once you get a hang of it, you’ll find you have access to deeper insights you can use to grow your online store. 

Meme that says "Stop trying to make Google Analytics 4 happen"
It's too late.

Try to fight the urge to run for the hills and don’t give in to Reddit threads, because despite the inevitable headaches from major architectural changes, new ways of reporting, and re-doing everything—stay with me—there is a light powered by profitable insights at the end of the GA4 migration tunnel.  

8 advantages of Google Analytics 4

If you’re wondering why Google would do this to you, let’s look at the long term. There are numerous benefits to GA4 backed by AI-driven insights into your audience, including:

#1 Cross-functional and cross-platform tracking

The platform has been remodeled to collect both website and app data which you will be able to view in one property, to ultimately allow you to have a more in-depth picture of your customer journey.

Use it: You will be able to track if someone starts their journey on a mobile device, and at what point they switch to the desktop. These insights will also enable you to see how well your campaigns are performing across platforms. 

#2 No more cookies

We know from Google Marketing Live that the microscope is enhancing user privacy, which is the reason GA4 is designed to be cookieless, and will not store the user’s IP address.

Use it: GA4 provides additional AI-driven insights so you’ll no longer have to rely on cookies to track individual user actions. You can also craft marketing and website messaging to build trust with customers by letting them know their privacy is protected. 

#3 Efficient data streaming

Web, iOS and Android tracking are all supported in GA4 in a new feature called Data Streams, which leverages Google’s dedicated mobile development platform, Firebase. When the data is collected from desktop or mobile it will be allocated as a web data stream or an app data stream. 

Use it: You can add as many as 50 data streams and can choose to report using the metrics from all your streams at once, or filter to report from either iOs, Android or the web. 

#4 Events+Parameter > Sessions + Pageviews

The main difference between the two models is that GA3/ Universal Analytics refers to user data in Users, Sessions, and Session Duration and GA4 breaks down the same user data into Users, Events, and Engagement Time. 

Diagram showing difference between GA3 and GA4

This is what they’re calling the ‘Events + Parameter’ model, and it allows you to track any user activity as an event, such as your goals, pageviews, your add-to-carts, and your check-outs. The reason for this is to enable you to see integrated reporting across apps and websites in one reporting view, as well as a single set of metrics. 

Use it: The enhanced measurement feature allows you to turn on auto-tracking for events such as video views, scrolls and outbound clicks without additional coding or tagging. 

Screenshot of Enhanced measurement from GA4

#5 Death of the bounce rate

If improving your bounce rate always feels like looking for a needle in a haystack, then you’re in luck - GA4 doesn’t do bounce rate. Instead, the metric has been replaced by Engagement Rate. GA4 determines a user as ‘engaged’ if they have interacted with your website for longer than 10 seconds OR if two or more page/ screen views occurred during the session. 

Use it: As it doesn’t rely on pageviews to determine an event (like the silly old bounce rate), it’s better used across platforms to measure engagement. 

Its formula is: Engagement rate = engaged sessions / sessions

#6 Your questions, answered

Also, the search bar is increasingly valuable with instant answers to your most specific queries, 

which will be even more enhanced when more data accumulates.

Use it: You’re able to search anything from “how to create a report” to things like “returning users this month vs last month”.

#7 Tag Manager steps up

While the lift is undeniably heavy, Google’s end game is to ensure we’re relying even more on Google Tag Manager (GTM) to manage tags which will streamline the data collection process. 

Use it: Add, edit and deploy tags to track conversions, measure website engagement and gather analytics data all in one place.

#8 Predictive analytics for the win

With all this focus on the customer journey, predictive metrics are a welcome feature. These new Google metrics will help you forecast an individual user’s next move before they do it.

Use it: Right now, these metrics include:

  • Purchase probability - The likelihood that an active user in the last 28 days will make a purchase in the next 7 days
  • Churn probability - The probability that a user active on your website in the last 7 days, will not be active in the next 7 days
  • Revenue prediction - the revenue expected from all purchase events within the next 28 days, based on the users active in the last 28 days

Before you dive in and try to navigate the new dashboard, it helps to recognize from the outset that GA3 does not mirror GA4. The best way to wrap your head around GA4 is to simply start from scratch and relearn the platform (truth hurts). As you’ll find, there are limited reporting views on acquisition, behavior, audience, and conversions.  

And if you find yourself asking (or yelling), ‘Did I just lose last year’s data???’ Don’t panic. But yes… to an extent. Depending on the date you moved from the session-based to the event-based data model, you’ll lose access to historical reports and data you once held dear. This may also affect your API integrations.

Never fear, the brains at Style Arcade have been working behind the scenes to ensure your Style Arcade experience is as smooth and simple as ever. Welcome to the brave new world of Google Analytics.  

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