Bye Bye Google Analytics... What Does This Mean for Marketers?
It’s true! Google’s Universal Analytics is going the way of the dodo. The analytics platform you depend on in your digital media marketing analytics is officially closing down permanently. Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) announced this week that it will stop processing hits as of July 1, 2023. Not to worry, you have 15 months to adjust your digital marketing to the new generation, Google Analytics 4 (GA4). If you are a Universal Analytics 360 user, that deadline is October 1, 2023.
GA4 has been in use for more than two years now, and UA in software years is ancient at 10 years old. So, the move should not surprise those in the social media marketing, brand experience, and digital marketing spaces. UA’s reliance on cookies and browser text files to exchange data has become obsolete. Its metrics also depended on page-load analytics and were beginning to address cross-platform tracking and custom metrics.
To address the changing needs of today’s users and remain in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), GA4’s structure will no longer include IP addresses that can be misappropriated. We can construe these IP addresses as “personally identifiable information.” As a result, Google has created GA4 to be:
Privacy-focused with an eye on the future
Cross-platform and device-ready using machine learning to provide insights into customer behaviors
It has optimized the ad platform with upgraded integrations for better campaign execution and ROI
Because of the different ways GA4 collects and stores your digital marketing and social media marketing analytics, it is necessary to make the change. Instead of the “sessions” you are used to looking for, Google has built its platform around users and events. What’s the difference? Being an events-based platform treats every user interaction as a standalone event.
Your new GA Reporting home page gives you an at-a-glance summary of all traffic, conversions, and revenue for your web property. It’s a great way to get instant feedback on where your traffic is coming from, what campaigns are performing best, and what pages users viewed the most.
Another notable area is the Life Cycle Reports. This area is perfect for digital marketing professionals who want to scrutinize the performance of your sales funnel and the behaviors of the users once they are in it. You can easily track how many social media users entered your funnel or if you need more specificity in your social media, such as how many Pinterest followers you have.
GA4 also tracks demographics on geolocation, the technology used, and user events and conversions, however you want to define it.
How Will This Affect Your Digital Marketing?
Some of the principal benefits to marketers are:
Cross-platform analysis and user journey path analysis
Better predictions of user behavior with machine learning
Better data collection will mean you are more clearly informed when planning your marketing strategies
Think of this as brain-storming central. This is the digital marketing, social media marketing, and brand experience fields paradise. This answers the all-important questions of who, where, when, and how.
Who are they? What’s the demographic picture of your user?
Where are they located?
Where are your users coming from? Social media, referrals, guest posting, and so on?
When are they most active?
How did they get there? What devices do they use the most?
GA4 Effects on Social Media Marketing Strategies
So, you are probably wondering what effect GA4 will have on your social media marketing. Google Analytics 4 is a significant upgrade, no doubt about it. Your Universal Analytics has depended on “cookies” from websites in the past.
Cookies are going bye-bye.
With the increased use of cookie blockers and privacy legislation, cookies are swiftly becoming less effective. GA4 provides cookie-less tracking and uses machine learning to fill in the data gaps. Social marketing agencies with a data-driven approach to digital marketing will have a plethora of new and exciting tools to play with. GA4 gives you insight into your social media accounts and offers data tracking and reporting on your social media campaigns.
Sources of social media traffic. You can find out which social media platforms give you the most engagement.
Determine your ROI per social media platform.
Dial-in your content strategy. Focus on the content that engages your customer.
Easily find out how many sales conversions per social media marketing platform.
Unfortunately, social media tracking is more difficult in GA4. You will use Universal Analytics IDs for a while, so you can use any existing tracking code that begins with UA until that is phased out in October 2023. To learn more about tracking codes in GA4, check out this guide from Hootsuite.
Great analytics are the lifeblood of your business. With insights driven by machine learning, you can make more informed, data-driven digital marketing decisions. GA4 is the analytics upgrade we have all been looking for. Its flexibility and ability to predict user behavior while maintaining user privacy are long overdue. Yes, there’s a learning curve, but you will find that the upgrades make it more than worth it.
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