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Google Analytics 4: A complete guide to e-commerce

No doubt you heard it right:

You’ve certainly heard it right: Universal Analytics (UA) has likely been an essential tool for you and your team, and it will disappear completely on July 1, 2023. Google Analytics 4 is now available.

Google Analytics 4 (or GA4), first introduced in 2020, is the next evolution of Google’s popular web analytics services. It is a completely new generation of web analytics.


Most websites use Google Analytics to take a look at their site visitors, see which pages are the most popular, and see where people are coming from.

But if you dig beneath the surface, you’ll find a whole world of valuable information to help you measure and optimize your SEO performance.

But here’s the tricky part: Google Analytics has a reputation for being complex and overwhelming, especially if you don’t know how to break down the information and use it to inform your SEO efforts. And with the release of the most important update to Google Analytics, Google Analytics 4, there’s even more to learn and understand on this platform.

Anyone logging into Google Analytics will see a notification informing them that they must switch to Google Analytics 4 by July 1, 2023. If you do not switch, no more data will be collected. The old version of Analytics, also known as Universal Analytics, will expire on that date.

This means that if you’ve been waiting to switch to Google Analytics 4, your time is almost up.

While we’ve seen several iterations of Google Analytics over the years, GA4 is fundamentally different from previous versions in the type of data you measure, and how. In short: everything is different in GA4.

What can you expect? New reporting capabilities, enhanced features and predictive reporting make this new generation of GA more powerful than ever.

Google Analytics 4: What is changing?

In short… quite a lot, actually.

The GA language is changing. There are many changes in the structure and logic of data collection.

GA4 is a step in the right direction when it comes to providing businesses with the insights that matter today, leveraging machine learning and AI components built for the near future without stoves.

So, here are the four big changes I see coming with this tool:

Multi-platform monitoring: All in one

With the old Google Analytics, tracking users across platforms was nearly impossible. The new Google Analytics 4 tracks web and app data in a single property (hence the beta name Google Analytics App+Web).

Cross platform tracking allows you to see the complete customer journey, including acquisition, engagement, monetization and retention. You can use GA4 to track the user experience end-to-end and from platform to platform.

This is accomplished by means of unique user identifiers assigned during application or website login.

The GA4 is equipped with four identity methods different to help create a unified view of user paths between devices:

✓ User – ID
✓ Google Signals
✓ Device ID
✓ Modeling

All data associated with the same user – or identity – is assigned to the same identity space. These identity spaces are used in all GA4 reports, allowing brands and advertisers to de-duplicate the list of their users and gain a richer understanding of their relationship and interaction with their company.

2. Event-driven data model

GA4 metrics are drastically different in the way they are defined and collected. Gone is the category, tag, action and value; instead, custom event tracking collects user-defined parameters with each custom event.

Now, instead of focusing on session data, everything is built around users and the events they complete. Every measurable interaction will now be considered an event.

An event-driven data model processes each user interaction as a separate event, resulting in more comprehensive reporting and insights. It is making the question less about what happened in a session and more about a user’s behavior and the translation of data points into human actions.

By focusing more on the entire lifecycle of the visitor, rather than just the pages they visit along the way, GA4 is more flexible and able to better predict user behavior.

In addition, it relies on AI machine learning to provide more detailed information. This will help you anticipate a guest’s future actions and focus your business attention on some of the highest value segments of your audience.

Moving from a focus on sessions to a focus on events offers significant advantages to marketers, such as the cross-platform analytics, a unified view between the app and the web, mentioned above.

There are basic events that GA4 will collect automatically, other events that it can recommend you collect based on your type of website, and the freedom to customize event collection as you wish.

You can set up an event yourself, but Google Analytics 4 also measures a number of events by default:

✓ Scrolls.
✓ Page views
✓ Video engagement
✓ Outbound clicks
✓ Site search queries.
✓ File downloads

Even if you do not modify the default settings, you will already get a good insight into the behavior of your visitors.

NOTE: There is a limit to the total number of parameters a GA property can collect, so choose carefully.

3. New reports with new user interface

GA4 not only measures and defines data differently than UA, it also looks different.

The way reports are organized and displayed is changing.

The first change you are likely to notice is the new dashboard, with some different looking functions or a different navigation path.

The new GA4 design focuses on the guest lifecycle, with shorter reports and summarized data that make it easier to identify key trends. For example, gone are hard-to-interpret tables and charts of data, replaced by simplified dashboards and summaries.


In GA4, it is more streamlined and many of the reports I was used to are gone or moved. The navigation bar on the right includes buttons for home, reports, explore, advertising, configure and library.

At the bottom, under Insights, you’ll see predictive information based on Google’s AI.

Pages and screens report

The pages and screens report looks different in GA4 than in Universal Analytics. It is no longer called landing pages report, but pages and screens report.


The GA4 page and screen report measures the performance of a web page based on the number of visits it receives. Page reports can provide you with information about many aspects of your landing page.


Also, the navigation path is different for the pages and screens reported in GA4.

In Universal Analytics, you should go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages to view the landing pages report. In this report, you can analyze metrics such as page views, unique page views, average time on page, bounce rate, etc.

In Google Analytics 4, follow the Reports > Engagement > Pages & Screens path to access your pages report. On this screen, you will see two graphs that will provide you with information about the best performing pages. Below that, you’ll find a table report with metrics such as views, users, views per user, average engagement time and more.

The best way to use this report is to explore the various features, metrics and dimensions that will help you track and analyze your page performance.

Fewer standard reports
Another important difference is that there are fewer standard reports in Google Analytics 4. Therefore, you have to set up your own reports to get a proper overview. This takes more time than with Universal Analytics, where everything was more or less ready-made.

Real-time reporting in GA4
Real-time reporting is a great feature to see activities on a website as soon as they happen (within the last 30 minutes). This can allow marketers or content creators to make changes or improvements to marketing campaigns immediately, further optimizing them to improve engagement and conversions.

More control
GA4 lets you customize the dashboard, allowing you to view the reports that matter most to your business. You can also create custom segments based on trigger events, which are essentially a subset of events occurring on your website or application. This allows you to accurately track customer interactions.

4. Privacy-friendly data collection and analysis

Google Analytics 4 is more privacy friendly.

With GA4, Google is also trying to focus on concerns around customer privacy.

As third-party data collection is criticized by privacy advocates, Google is willing to shift towards the use of anonymized source data, along with consensual tracking.

GA4 is being introduced to address the growing importance of GDPR and user privacy online, reduce our reliance on cookie data, and fill any potential data gaps using advanced machine learning (ML).

By unifying properties and collection scopes, and announcing important server-side capabilities, Google moves away from client-side dependencies and becomes an advanced tool that provides unprecedented insights.

All while simplifying data analysis. Used effectively, it will help you capture business-critical source data, which is even more valuable now that third-party data is becoming increasingly scarce.

For example, user IP addresses are no longer being collected and processed. You can also determine whether Google Analytics 4 data can be used for online marketing campaigns.

Privacy Settings
With the introduction of Google Analytics 4, Google is also addressing concerns around online privacy. For example, users’ IP addresses are no longer collected and processed. You can also determine whether Google Analytics 4 data can be used for online marketing campaigns.

Predictive insights
With GA4’s powered predictive metrics, you can make decisions based on big data.

What does this mean? For most businesses, predictive analytics can have a significant impact on retargeting campaigns. AI metrics include.

✓ probability of purchase.
✓ probability of churn
✓ revenue prediction.

With the above metrics, you can create audiences based on your predicted behaviors.

These audiences can be segmented using Google Ads campaigns or even social media. These metrics can also improve website performance.

NOTE: GA4 also offers even greater integration with Google Ads, allowing you to create, maintain and share audiences that can help you target your paid search activity. The opportunities are almost limitless.

Why should I switch to Google Analytics 4?

Here’s the big question: do you need to switch to Google Analytics 4 right now?

Short answer: yes. And… as soon as possible.

Set up a GA4 property to run in parallel with Universal Analytics. Even if you don’t plan to use it right away, collecting data and strengthening your machine learning (ML) models will make future analytics more meaningful.

Better data collection = better informed marketing strategies.

Google will stop processing new visits as of July 1, 2023. After the switch to GA4, its Universal Analytics property will stop recording data, but it will still be available to access for “at least 6 months,” according to Google. The smart thing to do would be to export all of your Universal Analytics data during July 2023 to retain a copy of everything you’ve learned over the years. set a reminder now!

Once UA goes away, so will your data, which means you won’t have access to any historical data to compare against in the future.

The only exception to the above is for those using Google Analytics 360. You will have until October 1, 2023 to collect and analyze Universal Analytics data. Good luck.

We strongly recommend that you export and retain hard copies of historical data for your records. Data will not be transferable from UA/GA360 to GA4 properties due to differences in the operation and definitions of their data models.

If you have not yet set up a GA4 property for your site, please do so today even if you do not plan to use GA4 until 2023.

Why? For two reasons:

✓ You’ll be collecting valuable historical data that will provide a point of comparison in the future.
✓ You’ll be bolstering machine learning models working behind the scenes, which will make future analyses more meaningful.

But don’t panic. Setting up a GA4 property doesn’t mean you lose access to your Universal Analytics property and all the data you’ve collected so far – you can continue to use Universal Analytics in parallel until the change in July 2023.

Google has provided guidance on how to set up GA4 in its support documentation. If you need help, let us know. We are rolling out Google Analytics 4 to all of our customers.

You can set up direct integration between your website and Google Analytics 4 yourself. All you need to do is convert your Google Universal Analytics account to Google Analytics 4, more information on Google’s support page. You will then receive a code that you can link to your website or online store.

You can also do this yourself by logging into your Google Analytics account.

In summary

An analytics tool is one of your most powerful marketing weapons. It helps you understand website traffic and how users behave once on the site.

Better analytical insights = better marketing decisions. GA4 is the analytics upgrade we all needed. It gives marketers more flexibility and a means to predict user behavior while maintaining their privacy.

Because there are so many changes to the user interface and methodology, the sooner you start planning, the better.

Fortunately, setting up a GA4 property on your website or application is easy. The steps outlined above will take you less than 10 minutes, so there’s no excuse for putting off the transition.

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