Get ready for Google Analytics 4 and enjoy an easy-breezy summer

Google stands firm, phasing out Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023. As such, the era of GA4 is upon us. Ready?

The final days of Universal Analytics

Suitcases packed? Check. Passport at hand? Check! A thorough review of your website analytics? Erm … What many dismissed as mere posturing has now come true. Universal Analytics officially ceases operation on July 1. As a result, every graph will inevitably flatten to a zero line. But more importantly: you’ll no longer have visibility in your website’s visitor count, content downloads, or any other data.

A source of anxiety? Or an array of opportunities? Let’s dive right in.

GA4 as the new normal?

The past few years, Google has been working hard on developing GA4, the successor to Universal Analytics. It not only inherits several functionalities from its predecessor, but also introduces a plethora of new features:

  • Machine learning plays a pivotal role in the new analytics model. It leverages your visitor system data, converting it into actionable insights. It’s crucial to note that copious amounts of data are necessary to derive reliable analyses. The more data you already have in the system, the more dependable GA4 becomes.
  • GA4 offers standard features that allow data collection without infringing upon GDPR rules. For instance, an IP address is transformed into an arbitrary string of numbers. As a result, you can collect data on sessions or actions on your website, even if the visitor declines the cookie policy. However, GDPR compliance is still mandatory for retargeting.
  • The Google ecosystem continues to flourish. In addition to its advertising channels, Google is also striving to fully integrate the Search Console and the Optimize platform. This integration facilitates the smooth management of your organic search traffic and landing page variations. 

GA4, a tool for experts

While Universal Analytics was fairly straightforward to use, GA4 has evolved into a tool for experts. It offers more flexibility but demands substantial manual setup to extract the right insights. 

Similarly, where previous dashboards could effortlessly visualize core metrics thanks to direct connectivity, the data from GA4 must first be stored separately before it can populate your dashboard. In other words: not so easy-breezy.

Become a GA4 expert or switch?

Many companies have transitioned to GA4, employing either internal experts or external agencies. However, quite a few companies have seized this opportunity to revise their entire analytics approach.

Despite still owning the lion’s share of the market, Google’s competition continues to rise. Other companies now provide various alternative analytics solutions catering to varying levels and needs. 

Below are some noteworthy (paid) alternatives:

  • Matomo: A popular tool offering features such as heatmaps, search keywords, and more, hosted on European servers.
  • Piwik Pro: Comparable to Matomo but lacks a UA importer at the time of writing. It aggregates various features, including a consent manager and all the tools you need for setup.
  • Fathom: This tool is ideal for companies needing minimal data and seeking fundamental insights.
  • Adobe Analytics: A comprehensive analytics suite that integrates with the rest of the Adobe suite. It demands an even higher level of expertise for effective usage. 

Which tool is best, depends on your specific needs, the level of expertise within your company, and how pivotal data is for your operations. Other than that, privacy concerns are also an important factor to consider. Despite Google taking steps to adhere to GDPR rules, it still remains a sensitive subject and up for discussion. 

Remember, it’s important not to choose just any “tool” but to thoroughly review your analytics strategy. That way, you can relish your summer and plan for the future with peace of mind.

Looking for a sparring partner or someone who can configure your analytics according to the rules of the art? Our Google Analytics 4 experts are at your service.

Want to dig even deeper into the matter ánd train your Dutch language skills? 

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