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Getting Started with GA4: Setting Up Google Analytics for Businesses

Read this guide to learn how to set up Google Analytics 4 so you can track and manage your website data and performance.

On July 1, 2023, your Google Universal Analytics property will no longer process data. Setting up Google Analytics 4 (GA4) as soon as possible can prevent you from losing valuable data about your website and campaign performance.

Users of Google Analytics, the most popular website analytics tool, were notified last year that their Universal Analytics (UA) properties would no longer process data in July many months ago.

Since then, many marketing teams have worked late nights setting up new Google Analytics 4 properties.

Unfortunately, if you're used to Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 may come as a shock because it's almost completely different. The sooner you begin setting it up and using it, the faster you can learn it.

Google Analytics 4 is not an updated version of Universal Analytics. It's something entirely new, and the setup can be quite exhaustive. Keep reading to learn more about how to set up Google Analytics 4.

If you use Google Analytics to track and manage your website data and performance, you should start preparing for Google Analytics 4 setup as soon as possible.

Google Analytics 4 is not the same as your existing Universal Analytics property. This completely redesigned version eliminates some of the most well-known metrics, like bounce rate, in favor of engagement and various reports.

However, it also uses better predictive analytics to predict the future behavior of your customers and help you create more effective marketing campaigns.

Before you use Google Analytics 4, we recommend familiarizing yourself with Google Tag Manager if you don't already use it. This tool will be useful when implementing tracking codes and creating custom events that help you track everything from conversions to scrolling events.

In addition, Google Analytics UA tracked page views, events, and transactions. In contrast, Google Analytics 4 will track all of these as events, which means additional time spent configuring each event to ensure your data is accurate.

Follow these steps to prepare for Google Analytics account setup before you use the setup assistant.

Define your business goals and objectives

Data tracking means collecting various types of data from your website and customers. Google Analytics 4 tracks just about anything you need to know about your website, but most business owners don't need that much data.

Instead, you should define your business goals and objectives. What is the purpose of your website?

If you're a blogger, the purpose of your website might be to educate. Meanwhile, if you're a business owner, the purpose of your website is to generate leads or sell products.

Identify key metrics to track

After defining your business goals, you can identify key metrics to track. You probably won't need all the data available to you in Google Analytics.

Since the new platform can be confusing if you're used to UA, identifying your most important metrics can help you focus more on them while you learn the new platform over the next several months.

For instance, you can use Google Analytics e-commerce tracking to measure everything from video engagement to acquisitions and sales. You can also review historical data to determine whether changes to your marketing campaigns are effective.

Understand the website or app structure

Understanding your website and app structure can help you define reports later on. For instance, if there's a certain path customers follow throughout their journey on your site, you should make a note of it since this may come into play later.

Ensure compliance with data privacy regulations

Google Analytics 4 collects first-party data. When users visit your site, they agree to a certain set of terms and conditions, allowing you to collect some types of data on them.

Since Google Analytics doesn't track personal information like user names or IP addresses, it can protect you against privacy issues.

When you're ready to begin setting up your Google Analytics account, you can log into Google Analytics. The URL to log in is still the same as Universal Analytics, but that's the only thing that has stayed the same. Follow these steps to set up your new Google Analytics 4 account:

Creating a Google Analytics property

When you log in, you should see your Google Universal Analytics property. You can create a new Google Analytics property by selecting "Create Property" and following the prompts.

At this stage, you'll provide the property name, which can be your website or business name, industry category, reporting time zone, and currency.

Implementing the GA4 tracking code

After creating the Property, you'll receive a Measurement ID (also known as a Measurement ID or App ID). This identifier is required to implement the Google Analytics 4 tracking code.

Then, depending on your website or app platform, there are different methods to add the GA4 tracking code.

For websites, you typically need to insert the tracking code snippet just before the closing tag on all pages of your site. Then, you can verify the installation using real-time reports in Google Analytics 4.

If you have Google Tag Manager implemented on your site, you can also use that tool to install the Google Analytics 4 Account. We recommended having a Google Tag Manager account because it eliminates the need for a developer when you want to add new code to your site. On Google Analytics 4, this is called the global site tag.

Configuring data streams

If you're like most businesses, you collect data in more ways than one. While your website helps you collect data on your website visitors, other data sources collect information based on campaigns. For instance, you might use Google Ads to generate paid traffic.

Connecting a Google Analytics data stream can help you keep all your data in one place while seeing the full picture of your campaign's performance. For instance, you can determine how many paid visitors you had from a campaign and the actions they took on your site.

To configure data streams, you can sign into your Google Analytics 4 account and navigate to the Admin section. Then, under Property, click on "Data Streams" and create a new stream before following the prompts.

You'll need to provide web data stream information, including the name of the data stream, URL, and other relevant details. Then, you can configure the settings to collect data using a certain method.

From understanding user engagement and conversion metrics to analyzing audience behavior and exploring advanced reporting features, discover how to harness Google Analytics 4 reports to optimize your digital strategies and make data-driven decisions.

Unfortunately, Google Analytics 4 Reports are much different than Universal Analytics reports, making them difficult to navigate.

Luckily, you can find just about any data you need about your website in GA4 as long as you know where to look. The only thing GA4 doesn't offer is competitor data. You'll have to find that on your own.

Here are a few tips to help you generate common reports to understand more about your website data:

Audience reports

In Google Analytics 4, audience reports are related to segments. Audiences are groups of users you can analyze and show ads to. These groups can be created based on metrics, behavior, and events. In GA4, audiences are primarily used to show ads when your account is linked to Google Ads.

You can also use audience reports to compare audiences based on various conditions to see how metrics differ between different groups or segments.

If you don't want to create custom audiences, you can learn more about your website visitors by creating other custom reports in GA4 or using Google Looker Studio to visualize the data.

Acquisition reports

Everyone wants to know where their website visitors come from to ensure their companies are working and determine which strategies drive the most traffic.

Unlike Universal Analytics which had an independent tab for this data, Google Analytics 4 makes understanding acquisition slightly more complicated.

You can find your acquisition reports under Reports > Acquisition. Then, you'll see Overview, User acquisition, and Traffic acquisition.

In traffic acquisition, you can learn where your traffic is coming from. You can also customize this report to show you which campaigns perform the best.

User acquisition and traffic acquisition can be difficult to differentiate because Universal Analytics has no second option. However, both types of internal traffic acquisition attribute conversion to different parts of the customer journey.

For instance, user acquisition focuses on the first traffic source that brought a visitor to your site. On the other hand, traffic acquisition focuses on the most recent traffic source.

Behavior reports

Unlike Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 doesn't have a behavior flow report. However, you can still understand behavior by using funnel exploration templates to follow the user journey. In Google Analytics 4, you have two options for tracking behavior flow: funnel exploration and path exploration.

Funnel exploration defines a specific path you want years to take when they visit your website. On the other hand, path exploration looks at the journeys users actually take on your site in a free-flow style.

With both types of reports, you can use data filters and segments to analyze the data and add up to 10 steps to define the user path.

Conversions reports

Both versions of Google Analytics provide conversion reports, but they are much different in Google Analytics 4 than in UA. Universal Analytics tracked conversions as goals that you had to manually set up. Now, with GA4, goals are gone and replaced with conversions.

Conversions are now different in how they're configured and the types of conversions that exist. Since Google Analytics 4 focuses primarily on event data rather than hits, you must configure each conversion to ensure you're getting the most accurate data.

Google Analytics 4 has predefined conversions that can't be disabled, such as purchases, which applies to both websites and mobile apps. The next group of conversions can be turned on, or you can rename them. For instance, you can mark any event as a conversion, such as an e-book download or form submission.

You can also create new events and mark them as conversions using Google Tag Manager, just like you were able to do with Universal Analytics.

Extracting actionable insights from GA4 data

The change from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 is drastic. Marketers who aren't prepared will find themselves unable to track website data properly because of a significant learning curve.

If you've already implemented your new Google Analytics property settings, now is the time to start experimenting and watching tutorials to help you understand how your new Google Analytics dashboard works and how to create custom reports.

You will no longer be collecting data through your Universal Analytics property, so learning everything you can about Google Analytics as quickly as possible will ensure there are no gaps in your data tracking or measurements.

Unfortunately, GA4 has received mixed reviews. The new Google Analytics interface is a shock to those who have been using Universal Analytics for years. Many marketers and business owners find it much more complicated since it provides an overwhelming amount of data.

But you can make your data easier to understand with Mailchimp.

Mailchimp provides website and audience data to help you make data-driven decisions without having to sit through massive amounts of data. Instead, our tools give you the insights you need to help your business grow.

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