Key Benefits of Using Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Table of Contents for Key Benefits of Using Google Analytics 4

  1. GA4 provides a platform for both website and mobile app
  2. GA4 has much focus on the users’ journey
  3. GA4 user interface is much more user-centric
  4. GA4 provides predictive analytics capabilities
  5. GA4 provides advanced analysis reports
  6. Enhanced data visualizations and reporting
  7. Easy conversion and event tracking set up
  8. Automatic event tracking
  9. Easy cross-domain setup
  10. Access to far more custom dimensions and custom metrics
  11. Quick data validation and audit built within the user interface
  12. Free connection to BigQuery

In this article I am going to talk about the key benefits of using Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) (also referred to as ‘apps + web’) is the latest version of Google Analytics. 

GA4 is much more advanced and follows an event-based architecture. Unlike Universal Analytics where you have page views and events, GA4 tracks everything as an event.

For example, page views, session start, transactions, etc. are sent as events in GA4. So everything you track in GA4 is an event. 

Let’s discuss more about benefits and features of GA4

#1 GA4 provides platform for both website and mobile app

One of the biggest benefits of GA4 is that you can use it for your website and app, as well as both website and mobile app together.

Earlier you had to use Universal Analytics for your website and Firebase for mobile applications, but with GA4 you can use the ‘app + web’ implementation which is basically Google Analytics for Firebase with website tracking capabilities.

Now you have the ability to consolidate data from websites as well as mobile applications in a single property. This is done by using data sources which are also called data streams in GA4. 

Under one property you can have multiple data streams like Android, iOS and web.

 
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#2 GA4 has much focus on the users’ journey

Google Analytics 4 focuses more on user journeys and the events triggered by them. 

With GA4’s data stream capabilities, you can now measure the user interactions across all the platforms and get a holistic view. 

Let us suppose a user came to your website using desktop or mobile and carried out some activities like ‘add to cart’ or ‘sign up’.

Then the user downloaded your company mobile app and made few purchases. In this case, GA4 allows you to stitch together the activities carried by the user using different devices (desktop and mobile) and then bring them into the reporting more accurately.

Note: In order to stitch together the user journey across devices and mobile apps, you need to create a unique customer ID that should be the same for both website and mobile apps. This can be done using your developer’s help.

#3 GA4 user interface is much more user-centric

The Google Analytics 4 UI is significantly different compared to Universal Analytics, which gives marketers more benefit while digging out user centric reports. 

In Universal Analytics, we have users buckets such as ‘audience’, ‘acquisition’, ‘behaviour’ and ‘conversion’.

Whereas in GA4 we have users buckets like ‘acquisition’, ‘engagement’, ‘monetization’ and ‘retention’. These buckets are more aligned with user-oriented reports and marketers goals. 

In GA4, you also get a separate ‘Audiences’ report where you can define user definitions such as mobile users, purchasers, etc.

#4 GA4 provides predictive analytics capabilities

One of the major benefits of GA4 is that you get to use predictive metrics. These metrics are derived from machine learning algorithms that measure conversion progress. 

To predict the potential actions of users, GA4 automatically enriches the data on your dataset with Google machine learning algorithms. 

With predictive metrics, you can identify users and their actions on the website that will likely lead to a purchase or conversion. This could help you to discover more users who may purchase a product in the next 7 days.

There are currently three predictive metrics supported by GA4:

  1. Purchase probability: The probability that a user who was active in the last 28 days will generate a purchase event within the next 7 days. Currently, only purchase/ecommerce_purchase and in_app_purchase events are supported in GA4.
  2. Churn probability: The probability that a user who was active on your website within the last 7 days will not be active within the next 7 days.
  3. Revenue prediction: The revenue expected from all purchase events within the next 28 days from the users who were active in the last 28 days on the website.

#5 GA4 provides Advanced Analysis reports

Google Analytics 4 comes with predefined Analytics techniques which were not available in earlier versions (unless you are a GA 360 customer).

These techniques consist of one or more tabs, each of which displays your data using a specific technique.

Currently, GA4 supports the following analysis techniques

1. Exploration report: The exploration report represents your data in a dynamic table layout. You have the option to arrange rows and columns as you like and apply custom segments and filters to refine your data.

In earlier legacy versions of Google Analytics, you had the option to create a custom report under the customization menu option. The GA4 custom report is replaced by the exploration report, with a more advanced user interface and new functionality.

2. Cohort analysis report: The cohort analysis report provides insight into the behaviour and performance of groups of users with common attributes. 

3. Funnel analysis report: Funnel analysis in Google Analytics 4 allows you to visualize the steps your users took to complete a task. You can quickly analyze how well they are succeeding or failing at each step.

For example, how do users behaved while purchasing a product which had a series of events like product view, product click, add to cart, checkout and then the final transaction?

With this information, you can improve inefficient or abandoned customer journeys.

4. Segment overlap report: The segment overlap report allows you to compare up to three user segments and see how they overlap and relate to each other. In other words, it is an analysis technique that visualizes the relationship between multiple segments of users.

The ‘Segment Overlap’ report helps you to understand specific audiences by isolating them based on complex and/or advanced segments.

You can then create new segments based on your findings, which you can apply to other analysis techniques and reports. 

5. User explorer report: This report shows you the users that make up the segments you created or imported. You can also drill down into individual user activities via this report.

6. Path analysis report: The path analysis report in Google Analytic 4 allows you to determine the sequence of pages visited by users and the actions performed.

For example, you can find the top pages that new users visited after visiting the home page or you can discover what actions users took after a particular page view.

You can use the path analysis report to uncover the looping behaviour of the users. For example, if users visited page A then page B and then again page A.

You can also use the path analysis report to determine the effect of a particular event on subsequent events

7.  User lifetime report: Through this report, you can determine how website users behave during their lifetime, after visiting your website for the first time.

Through the user lifetime report, you can get answers to questions like:

  • When did a user last make a purchase from your website/app?
  • When did a user last engaged with your website/app?
  • How can we find users with the higher purchase and lower churn probability?
  • Which traffic source and/or medium resulted in users with the highest lifetime value?
  • Which campaigns performed the best in terms of lifetime value?

#6 Enhanced data visualizations and reporting

Compared to earlier versions of Universal Analytics, GA4 has far better visualization.

Just take the example of real-time reports.

Earlier we had the option to see real-time data but via overview, locations, traffic sources, content, events and conversions reports:

However, in the case of GA4, real-time data visualization is far better adjusted to get a holistic view of all the real-time data in just one glance.

Not only there is improved data visualization, you also get the option to interact with the data dynamically. On top of that, you can add comparisons in GA4 as well.

#7 Easy conversion and event tracking set up

In GA4 you can easily mark any logged event as a conversion. This is something that is not possible with Universal Analytics. Thus setting up conversion tracking is much easier in GA4.

In Universal Analytics, you can track a maximum of 20 conversions per reporting view. GA4 does not have any such restrictions. You can set up as many conversions as you want in GA4.

In GA4, you can easily modify any event or create a new event based on the occurrence of other events and parameters. This is something that is not possible with Universal Analytics. Thus setting up event tracking is much easier in GA4.

 You can learn more about GA4 event tracking here GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Event Tracking Setup Tutorial

#8 Automatic event tracking

In GA4 you can automate certain types of events via enhanced measurement. This is something which is not possible with Universal Analytics.

The automatically collected events in GA4 include page views, scroll events, outbound link clicks, site search events, video engagement (like play, pause, completed) and file download events.

#9 Easy cross-domain tracking setup

Complicated setups are required in Universal Analytics to set up the cross-domain tracking.

It is usually done by using the ‘allowlinker‘ parameter sent with every single Google Tag Manager tag (if you are using Google Tag Manager) or every ‘gtag.js‘ (global site tag) call.

In the case of Google Analytics 4, setting up cross-domain tracking has been made very simple and no additional tagging is required. You just need to configure your domains in the Admin section. 

#10 Access to far more custom dimensions and custom metrics

Universal Analytics (excluding GA 360) support only 20 custom dimensions and metrics, while GA4 supports 50 event scoped custom dimensions and metrics.

#11 Quick data validation and audit built within the user interface

Debugging your implementation setup is an important step to validate your analytics configuration. 

It could take a few minutes or several days to troubleshoot issues in Google Analytics depending upon your skills and experience.

However, Google Analytics 4 makes debugging pretty simple due to the presence of a special real-time report called DebugView

DebugView allows you to monitor your website’s event data in real-time, along with all the custom parameters and user properties set.

Through this report, you can isolate and see data only from a specific device where debug mode is enabled. 

DebugView looks at follows:

  1. Device used for debugging.
  2. Minutes stream: This section gives you details of events happening every minute. 
  3. Seconds stream: This section gives you details of events happening every second.
  4. Top events : Displays event in real-time from the debugging device.
  5. User properties: User properties sent by the debugging device.

#12 Free connection to BigQuery

GA4 provides a free connection to BigQuery.  Yes, you heard right. You can export all of your raw events data from GA4 and then perform queries and export it to an external tool. This is very useful when you want to connect GA4 data with an external data source.

So, these are the key benefits of Google Analytics 4.

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About the Author

Himanshu Sharma

  • Founder, OptimizeSmart.com
  • Over 15 years of experience in digital analytics and marketing
  • Author of four best-selling books on digital analytics and conversion optimization
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Awards for Excellence
  • Runs one of the most popular blogs in the world on digital analytics
  • Consultant to countless small and big businesses over the decade
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