June 30, 2023: the date when Google Universal Analytics (GA 3) will finally end. It will be replaced by the new version of Google Analytics 4 (GA 4). To avoid losing valuable data (e.g. year-over-year performance comparisons), you should already have both tools running at the same time.
Why is Google replacing the old version with the new one?
GA3 vs. GA4: fundamental changes
Hits alternate with events
While GA 3 worked with so-called “hits”, i.e. specific interactions between a user and your site, GA 4 overturns this concept and tracks events in the online environment with so-called “events”. Under them, you can imagine something important (within your online store it can be, for example, placing an item in the shopping cart or the wish list, user login, sending an order, etc.). For a detailed list of recommended events for online sales, see Google Help.
By tracking relevant events in GA 4, you can more easily understand the user journey, identify key takeaways, and pinpoint places that are preventing customers from making a purchase. Compared to GA 3, GA 4 is more personalized. For this tool to provide the right information, you need to customize the personalization according to your goals and determine exactly which events are key to your business.
Protection of personal data
GA 4 (unlike its predecessor GA 3) does not store users’ IP addresses. Privacy advocates rejoice, and users probably do, too. Data can be collected with a higher degree of anonymity – for example, you can completely disable pairing with a user profile.
Analysis of both the site and the app
Whereas in the old version, you had to analyze data from the website and the app separately, GA 4 allows you to measure these activities in a single account. If you maintain your store with an app, yo can see how users behave across platforms.
Changing your data storage
In GA 4, you store your data in two modes – 2 months or 14 months. Compared to GA 3, where data can be stored from 2 to 50 months, that’s a relatively big difference.
Instead of the bounce rate, the engagement rate
The bounce rate is the percentage of people who came to your site and immediately left without taking action. In the new version, the so-called bounce rate has been replaced by the engagement rate. It focuses not on how many visitors took no action, but on how many interacted. And it is if they spent more than 10 seconds on the site, looked through at least two pages, or made at least one conversion. So the new GA 4 feature focuses more on visitors interested in your content.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it
At first glance (and probably a few more), GA 4 analytics will seem very confusing, which is probably why it will take you a long time to get used to it and get used to it. Either way, you have no choice.
Google will shut down the old version sooner ( 30.06.2023 ) or later ( 30.09.2023 for the Universal Analytics 360 paid service). Be prepared in time so you don’t lose valuable data.