Preparing Your Startup for Google Analytics 4

By Brian Wallace Brian Wallace has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on June 5, 2022

By the year 2028, the data analytics market is expected to be worth $550 billion.  The history of web analytics shows the rapidly evolving nature of the field.  Just three years after the birth of the internet, the first analytics solutions appeared.  This included hit counters, a simple code used to display the number of page views, and log analysis, early software that helped interpret server logs.  Hit counters were simple to use without any expertise and advanced options allowed businesses to distinguish humans from bots.  Log analysis was more complex than simple hit counters and could help identify more traffic sources. 

How Analytics Have Become More Advanced

As websites became increasingly complex, log analysis became more difficult.  In the early stages of the internet, most URLs hosted a single HTML file of plain text.  As sites added images, audio, and video, browsers had to make HTTP requests per page visit.  Because of rapid technological improvements, new web analytics solutions needed to emerge.  As demand grew new solutions offered to track more than simple hit counts and log analysis.  New metrics for user behavior like session playbacks, heatmaps, form analytics, traffic sources, and customer lifetime value were used to optimize conversion rates, page performance, and user experience.  Marketers used this information to create targeted advertising, improve A/B testing, optimize website copy, and more. 

The History and Future of Google Analytics

Approximately 28 million active websites use Google Analytics.  The emergence of Google Analytics occurred in 2005 when they acquired Urchin, a top analytics provider working with major web hosts and 1 in 5 Fortune 500 companies.  Google Analytics is a hosted analytics solution heavily focused on quantitative data.  Their analytics ties directly in with Google’s web marketing offerings, providing in-depth tag-based data.  Universal Analytics was introduced by Google in 2012, changing the web analytics landscape.  Universal Analytics offered offline behavior monitoring, demographics, and richer customer data. 

Getting Ready for Google Analytics 4

In the past decade, websites and online platforms have continued to evolve, and Google Analytics has followed.  In October of 2020, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was introduced.  So, how is GA4 different from Universal Analytics?  Universal Analytics distinguished hit times, but GA4 considered every event a hit, automatically collecting all engagement data instead of just page views.  GA4 can report the average time that passes before a user takes a certain action, and Universal Analytics solely reports visit length and time between page views. 

One of GA4’s best attractions is its predictive analytics for customer behavior.  GA4 analyzes purchase probability, seeing how likely a user who was active in the last 28 days will make a purchase within the next week, churn probability, and revenue prediction.  Also useful to customers, GA4 also offers real-time reports with more data, cross-platform reporting, the consolidation of web and mobile data on one platform, and a new debugging mode.  Google’s Universal Analytics will shut down on July 1, 2023.  Is your business ready to make the switch?

Currently, there is no straight upgrade path from Universal Analytics to GA4.  In addition, there is no method to transfer historical data.  To stay up-to-date with the web analytics market, businesses need to learn how data collection changed with GA4, recode existing tags to work with this new platform, and redo dashboarding to track new metrics.  While this may seem daunting, expert help will ensure your analytics transition goes smoothly.  Transitioning to GA4 will allow your business and generate dependable data, leading to smarter business decisions.  Start working on your transition today. 

By Brian Wallace Brian Wallace has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Brian Wallace is a Columnist at Grit Daily. He is an entrepreneur, writer, and podcast host. He is the Founder and President of NowSourcing and has been featured in Forbes, TIME, and The New York Times. Brian previously wrote for Mashable and currently writes for Hacker Noon, CMSWire, Business 2 Community, and more. His Next Action podcast features entrepreneurs trying to get to the next level. Brian also hosts #LinkedInLocal events all over the country, promoting the use of LinkedIn among professionals wanting to grow their careers.

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