From GA4 to the sunsetting of Google Optimize, how do you actually get the most out of these changes?
In our latest workshop, ‘Google Optimized - Getting the Best from your Digital Analytics’, our experts discuss the latest changes to Google's analytical platforms, including how to maximise their usage to support wider business growth, along with the options - and benefits of - investing further in areas such as personalisation and performance.
In this Article:
- GA4 migration and the sunsetting of Google Optimize – why they’re happening?
- The major challenges of Google’s latest analytical platforms
- The major benefits of Google’s analytical platforms
- Overlooked opportunities when it comes to getting more from GA4
- Key considerations before deciding where – and when – to invest in analytics
READ OUR KEY LEARNINGS FROM THE SESSION BELOW, OR WATCH THE FULL WORKSHOP HERE
GA4 migration and the sunsetting of Google Optimize – why they’re happening?
Google Analytics 4 is the latest generation of analytical platforms, which allows you to effectively measure both traffic and customer engagement on your website or app.
Leveraging AI and machine learning, GA4 can track the entire customer path across multiple channels to provide greater insights into user interactions.
Matt highlights, “teams that have a central measurement plan in place have found the transition to GA4 much simpler – this is essentially one document that contains all tracking information and acts as a central point of truth.
Furthermore, GA4 is still in development so having that measurement plan in place to identify what you’re currently tracking can help with any forward planning.”
On the sunsetting of Google Optimize, Jack says “Google are travelling towards a more data driven analytics approach by supporting more third-party integrations. They’re also focused on greater customer privacy to coincide with some of the latest privacy laws.”
The major challenges of Google’s latest analytical platforms
A skill and knowledge gap
Nathan says, “GA4 is built on a completely different infrastructure to its previous versions, so getting to grips with the user interface has been quite a challenge across teams, it can be difficult to locate where particular aspects – such as reports – can be found.”
Nathan highlights, “different reporting surfaces use different data, for example report libraries use aggregated data whereas explorations are event-based data, meaning they will display dissimilar results.”
He adds, “to tackle this, I would recommend looking at the Google help articles, where they have answered a lot of questions from agencies and businesses alike on why their data isn’t matching.”
A functionality gap
Nathan says, “there are a few measurements or dimensions that are missing from GA4 such as site speed or transaction ID within report libraries, which means you would have to look at other tools to measure them.”
He adds, “with Google Optimize soon coming to end, organisations will need a better understanding of what they use Optimize for, to help search and compare other products that is best fitted for them in terms of price, functionality, and platform features.”
The major benefits of Google’s analytical platforms
Value for money
Imogen says, “the biggest benefit of GA3 and Google Optimize is that they were free, and although GA4 has no-costs attached – if you’re looking at alternatives to Google Optimize with similar functionalities, the likelihood is you’re going to have to pay for it.”
She adds, “previous analytical platforms were very easy to learn, whereas GA4 is a little more complex to understand. Similarly with Google Optimize, it’s a very visual platform, where you can see changes in real-time and is accessible for everyone.”
Push your analytics further
Imogen highlights, “with GA4 and various alternatives to Google Optimize, you can now push yourself a little further to gain a better understanding of your web analytics and deliver on your customers’ needs, which naturally supports your business progression.”
Overlooked opportunities when it comes to getting more from GA4
Used effectively, GA4 data can help inform your website strategy on aspects that must be improved and how they should be improved to increase your online performance and maximise conversions as well as strengthen your wider digital marketing strategy.
Below our experts discuss some of the overlooked opportunities when it comes to getting more from GA4:
Enable Google signals
Nathan highlights the benefits of enabling Google signals on GA4 settings, “Google can use some of the data from Google Signals in the reporting identity to understand what device a user is on much more effectively by using their own logged in data.”
Change Data retention settings
Imogen highlights, “the biggest thing we see people forget to do is change the retention settings for your data – by default Google will set this to two months so if you’re not active within that timeframe, you lose that data, this can however be changed to 14 months.”
Implement third-party products
Jack says, “in terms of third-party products, there’s a lot more available already and they’re starting to develop on those, so it’s worth going through to see which are already in use and which can be implemented in the future to give a better a service and reporting.”
Declare custom parameters
For those using Google Tag Manager in conjunction with GA4, Matt highlights, “if you add a custom event within Tag Manager and within that event you have custom parameters (for example, the colour of a button), Google will not know what that is unless you declare it within GA4.”
He adds, “failing to declare these means if you want to run a report on them in the future, you won’t be able to pull that data into exploration reports as it doesn’t exist – it’ll be in real time and in your dashboards, but for only a limited amount of time.”
Key considerations before deciding where – and when – to invest in analytics
Matt says, “on a practical level, you need to ask yourself - what is the return in investing further in analytics for my business?
I see a lot of clients doing it solely for reporting, which is good, but unless those insights are turned into actions, there is no real return on investment.”
Jack adds, “I would reiterate the point of having the time to work solely on your analytics – with GA4 migration, we've all seen how much work is taken to get it right and how much more it can provide.
Giving someone that dedicated time to review your analytics and consider what you've got and how far you want to progress with it can be crucial to your business growth.
If that resource isn't available, that's where external support is invaluable, as we can offer that dedicated time and knowledge.”
If you're investing in a data-driven strategy this year, make sure you're getting the most from your time. GO! offer cost-free agency recommendations, pitch management, and more - get in touch to get started.