Google Analytics 4: Should You Make The Switch?

27 September 2021

The internet is changing 👀

What used to be a web of networks used mainly by military and scientific organizations is now a massive platform of apps, cloud storage, and AI. The internet is getting smarter, and if you want your business to stay competitive, you'll need to keep up. 

One of those things you'll need to keep up with is Google Analytics 4. It's kind of a big deal.

What exactly is Google Analytics 4, what does it do, and (more importantly) why should you care? 

We'll cover everything businesses need to know about the new version of Google Analytics — including new features, how it will impact Leadfeeder users, and how to switch over. 

NOTE: Leadfeeder is a B2B website visiting tracking tool designed to help your business uncover hidden leads and close more deals. Sign up for a free 14-day trial. 

What is Google Analytics 4? 

Google Analytics 4 is a new property from, you guessed it, Google! 

Unlike Universal Analytics (the reports you're likely used to seeing!) Google Analytics 4 can be used for a website, app, or a website and app together if you're fancy like that. 

In addition to working on more types of properties, Google Analytics 4 provides smarter insights to help you better understand how users interact with your website or app, gather data, and be prepared for changes to the online world (like saying goodbye to third party cookies.) 

What does Google Analytics 4 offer? 

GA4 is not an update to the same old Google Analytics you've always used. It's a totally new platform that’s going to drastically change how websites collect and analyze website data. 

That might not sound like a lot of fun, especially if you're used to GA in its current iteration. 

steve carell disapprove

The good news is, Google isn't taking away your old Google Analytics (now called Universal Analytics) just yet. 

However, you can expect GA4 to be the standard in the next few years, so it's time to start paying attention. 

So, what’s all the fuss about? Here's what you can expect from Google Analytics 4. 

Google Analytics 4 is easier to use  

The old Google Analytics is hard to use, especially for beginners. There are dozens of reports and tons of options, like creating events or goals. Powerful? Yes. Easy to use? Not so much. 

Google Analytics 4 is a little easier to navigate, in my opinion. It's not exactly easy to use, but it's more intuitive once you figure out the basics. 

This GIF shows you a bit more about the new GA4: 

new google analytics 4

What this means for you

GA4 is built to scale with your business (and with technology) and is easier to use once you get the basics down. In the long run, businesses have an easier time accessing data, which is always a good thing! 

All measurements are events 

Universal Analytics measures a wide variety of "hit types" including page views, events, social, screen time, etc. 

Google Analytics 4 tracks everything as an event. This is actually a great thing because it allows Google to track how a user interacts with your site across platforms more easily.  

What this means for you

This change will make it easier to track the customer journey and provide deeper audience insights. 

The original GA was built around the idea that page views were the most important data. That’s no longer true, and GA4 makes it easier to track a wider range of metrics. 

AI-powered insights 

AI is nothing new for Google, but GA4 is expanding its use of AI to include predictive audiences and metrics. 

This makes it easier to retarget audiences and understand users who are most likely to make a purchase from you in the purchase.

It also means if your standard reports miss something, AI can fill the gap for you. 

What this means for you

AI-powered insights are great news for businesses using marketing strategies like website personalization or retargeting. 

AI can better predict what users are likely to do. 

This is also good news for businesses worried about how the end of third-party cookies will impact their marketing strategy. 

More control over data

GA4 provides far more control over what reports you see and what report "snapshots" include. 

This allows businesses to design their own dashboard. It also works better with Google Data Studio.  

What this means for you

Google Analytics (the original) was pretty rigid. You could pull and download reports to your heart's content, but customization was limited. 

Google Analytics 4 is far more customizable. 

In the long run, GA4 will serve less as a reporting tool and more of a business intelligence tool. 

Should I switch to Google Analytics 4?  

Google Analytics 4 is just getting off the ground, so it's only collecting a small portion of data. It also has different reports than Universal Analytics. 

So, no, you shouldn't totally switch from Universal Analytics.  

However, I do recommend turning on GA4 now so it can start collecting data. 

It's likely the old GA will sunset at some point, so you'll want to start collecting data and getting familiar with the platform. (You can run both platforms simultaneously.) 

How to set up Google Analytics 4 

If you already have Google Analytics, you'll use the GA4 Setup Assistant, which will collect data alongside your standard GA account.  

Access the Setup Assistant in the Admin page of your Universal Analytics page: 

google analytics 4 setup assistant

If you use Google Analytics for Firebase, use these instructions to get set up. 

Note: you can continue to use both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 for the foreseeable future. The platforms have different data, so it's best to keep both setup, for now at least. 

How will Google Analytics 4 impact Leafeeder users? 

Google Analytics 4 won't directly impact Leadfeeder or how it works. 

While we do integrate with GA, our tool doesn't rely on it for any data. 

Leadfeeder will continue to work as it always has. If you want access to more data about how visitors navigate your site, it's definitely worth setting up. We're always about #moredata! 

Ready to give Leadfeeder a try? Sign up for a free 14-day trial, and we'll start sending you leads today. 

Daire Summerville
By Daire Summerville

Head of Growth at Leadfeeder. Daire is a digital growth expert with expertise in Google Analytics, Google Ads, GTM & SEO.

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