On July 1, 2023, we bid farewell to the Google Analytics we have known, loved – and maybe at times hated – for the last decade. In its place, we welcome Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a measurement powerhouse that represents the future of web activity tracking.
GA4 delivers impact metrics for PR, communications and social media teams we haven’t seen before. So if you haven’t been paying attention, now is the time to invest in learning the platform’s new landscape and capabilities. While the learning curve is steep, the transition to GA4 could be responsible for one of the most important reporting and attribution tools in your arsenal.
The soon-to-sunset Universal Analytics (UA) was helpful to PR and social media pros for measuring things like referral traffic, new visitors, impactful content, traffic correlations and more. While those properties remain, vanity metrics like bounce rate and pages per session go away in GA4. So what can you look forward to incorporating into your reporting and analysis efforts going forward?
GA4 events measure specific occurrences on a website and offer a more meaningful view as well as measurable interactions. While mainstays like first visit, page views and session starts remain, you can now see activity metrics pertaining to clicks, file downloads, scrolls, video starts, video progress, video completions and more. Up to 30 events can be chosen for monitoring and measuring in GA4, and teams can go much deeper if preferred, enabling enhanced measurement events and configuring custom ones if applicable.
In GA4, an audience is a group of site visitors who have similar behavior data, like age, gender or acquisition by the same campaign (rejoice!). Google automatically sets audiences based on the industry in which a company operates (i.e., nonprofit, higher education, etc.), so it’s important to adjust as needed to align with goals. Audiences present a huge opportunity to tag PR and social media-generated visitors to analyze their continued activity and future high-value or monetary-producing behaviors.
When thinking of GA4 conversions – the replacement of UA’s goals – ask yourself, “What’s valuable to my company or clients?” Is it a purchase? Is it a newsletter sign-up? We circle back to events to measure conversions in GA4 since it’s as simple as reviewing your already established events and marking those you want to measure and report as conversions. Conversions allow you to analyze the economic value associated with something as simple as a link click or the other trackable events discussed above.
While the aforementioned GA4 features only scratch the surface of GA4, it’s apparent it will be an important and valuable tool in our industry for years to come. If you don’t know where to start ahead of the transition, here are the action items and resources we recommend:
- Make sure your company or clients begin running GA4 alongside UA immediately because GA4’s machine learning needs up to 32 weeks to analyze web data before its predictive capabilities kick in.
- Collaborate with those responsible for managing GA4 or work most closely with it. You’ll want to ensure that the events, audiences and conversions important to the work you’re doing are set up for tracking and reporting to showcase attribution and value. This might mean you need to push for an editor’s role in place of the analyst or viewer roles so you can also steer the ship. Don’t let other departments take credit for your people and their high-value behavior!
- Free courses are available here. Google also offers a public, fully-functional GA4 demo account tied to the Google Merchandise Store. This is a great resource for experimenting and seeing real business data live in GA4. More on how to access here.
Ready or not, GA4 is coming. Companies and their agency partners that are prepared for this change will likely see results before the end of the year. We highly recommend being ready. If you need some guidance about what metrics are most important for your PR and social campaigns – or need guidance on PR and social campaigns in general – we’d love to connect.