Google Analytics 4: Ready to make the switch?

Change is never easy. While some ecommerce merchants may be hesitant to make the leap to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), our customers are excited about what’s in store.  Google’s Universal Analytics (UA), GA4’s predecessor, has been trusted by over 30 million users worldwide since 2005. It’s proven to be an extremely useful tool, especially in the ecommerce world, allowing merchants to take a deep dive into their store’s sales, marketing, and product performance.  But like many 17-year-old systems, UA was due for a revamp. By now you’ve probably heard that Google will stop processing any data in UA on July 1, 2023. Beyond that date, GA4 will lead Google’s next generation of analytics, supplying ecommerce merchants with enhanced insights and tools to build out their DTC strategies.  Designed to be a more flexible, efficient, and “customer-centric” platform, GA4 comes equipped with several unique benefits aimed at enhancing your ecommerce analytics. Many of these key features were previously restricted to GA360 users (for the hefty price of $150k annually) and are now available to all GA4 users for free. To learn more about the benefits we’re most excited about, download 10 Reasons to switch to GA4. In this free download, we uncover: The top benefits GA4 has in storeHow GA4’s new features improve on UAHow to seamlessly send Shopify data to GA4 And the really exciting part? Things are just getting started. Google has been developing GA4 for a few years now and is continuing to roll out additional features. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about the key benefits GA4 has to offer. Ready to make the switch? While Google is still ironing out a few of GA4’s kinks, we recommend that users start sending data to GA4 now. More specifically, we encourage our customers to track in parallel, sending data to both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4. “Why?” you might ask. The sooner you start sending data to GA4, the better. By getting started now, your team will have an additional year’s worth of historical data in GA4 to do year-on-year analysis in the future.  Shopify’s native integration with Google Analytics does not support GA4, but Littledata customers can send data to both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4, at no additional cost. Get started with a 30-day free trial. Learn more about Google Analytics 4: An expert's opinion on all things Google Analytics 4 with Google's former GA evangelist Krista Seiden10 Reasons to Switch to Google Analytics 4The rise of GA4 and the sunsetting of UA

2022-05-24

Lunch with Littledata: Jumping into GA4 with Google Analytics Expert Krista Seiden

The rise of Google Analytics 4, the newest version of the world’s most popular analytics service, is predictably a very big deal in the world of data. As we move full steam ahead toward a cookie-less future and leave third-party data behind, Google has revamped its Analytics service to give users both a new look and new tools to check on the health of their businesses. Changes as big as this, though, always come with a learning curve. That’s when it helps to have an expert that can smooth the transition. In this edition of Lunch with Littledata, I spoke with KS Digital founder and former Evangelist for Google Analytics at Google, Krista Seiden about what GA users can expect from GA4, which reports come out of the box and which require more effort to build, and what to do to set yourself up for success starting today. [tip]Not sure what GA4 has in store? See our top 10 reasons to make the switch.[/tip] Edward from Littledata: You're obviously a well-known evangelist for Google Analytics (GA). Could you tell me a bit about how you got into the world of analytics? Krista Seiden: I like to consider my journey into analytics a bit of an accident (laughs). I was working at Adobe Systems way back in 2009 when my happy accident started. One of my responsibilities as a business analyst was to put together a monthly dashboard for the CEO, which included about 30 different metrics from around the business unit. I had to email probably 30 different people every month to get these metrics and put them together. It was very old school. And I realized that probably about half of the metrics I was collecting every month actually came from Omniture, which was their analytics solution at the time. I thought, “Well, this is silly. Why am I emailing all these people?” So I went to the web analytics team and said, “Hey, just teach me how to do this.” I spent some time with them and I learned how to pull the data myself. That was really helpful. Then Adobe bought Omniture, and all of a sudden all of that training that they had—which is generally really expensive—was available for free. So I thought, “Sweet. I'm going to learn all of this in more detail so I can be more useful in my current job.” And then as time went on, my job evolved and they asked me to just take on Web Analytics full time. So it was, I like to say, a happy accident because it kind of evolved into that new position, but it also just sparked from my interest in trying to make things more efficient and not have to bother everyone. So I spent some time at Adobe doing analytics, then I went to the Apollo Group and did analytics there using the free version of GA on a site that had millions and millions of users. This was predating even GA premium, so it was awful sampling. It was a horrible experience. I had to figure out all sorts of hacks and ways to try to make the data more usable. Just as I was onboarding Omniture there, I was tapped by Google to come run analytics and optimization for what's now the Google Cloud Group, what was then the Google Apps Group. Edward: Speaking of GA, I wanted to talk specifically about GA4 which is just launching. Now that its arrival has been officially announced and it's out of beta, do you think it’s ready for a high scale brand to use as their primary analytics tool? Krista: That's a good question. I think the answer is going to depend on who you ask. If you ask Google, they're going to say yes, it’s fully ready. If you ask somebody outside of Google, depending on their love or hate relationship with it, you will get a varying degree of answers. From where I stand, I think the answer is yes—but I think the answer is yes because Universal Analytics has a deprecation date (July 1, 2023). You don't really have a choice at this point, you need to start migrating (to GA4). For big companies especially, if you're going to need year-over-year data, you need to have GA4 set up and collecting data properly before the end of June 2022. That being said, there are features that are still missing, especially when it comes to ecommerce. We don't have our item scope custom dimensions yet, which is definitely a big problem for a lot of big ecommerce clients. There are ways that you can use other available dimensions to kind of fill that gap for now. It’s not the best, certainly. There are other features that are missing. But there's also a long roadmap and I'm pretty comfortable with where that roadmap is going in terms of the end product of what GA4 will eventually look like when a lot of that has rolled out. I think it's made a lot of progress in the last six months in particular, and it's a lot more ready now than it was not that long ago. [tip]See 10 benefits you can get from making the move to GA4 now[/tip] Edward: I do understand Google's dilemma that they want to sunset UA, but they simply can't launch everything now—there are a lot of features to build out. How are you advising brands go about making the transition to GA4? Is it about double-tracking using UA and GA4 for now? Krista: I think the narrative for the past year and a half has really been let's dual tag, get GA4 set up, start collecting historical data, and start getting used to it. My business, KS Digital, has stopped doing any sort of UA work. We actually stopped at the beginning of 2022, so we haven't taken on any new UA-specific clients since late last year. Our offerings now, when people come to us, are around getting them set up with a solution design and implementation for GA4. We’ll look at their UA data and maybe do a lightweight audit so that we at least have an understanding of what they're collecting, how they're doing it, and what we may be able to carry forward. But we're not really advising on UA anymore. That being said, I do still think dual tagging is a good idea if you are a current UA user and I will continue to recommend that all the way through the sunset. I think it's important to have that side by side, although I do also think it leads to a bit too much of a reliance on UA when people do need to start transitioning to GA4. So it's a little bit of a battle there, but I think it's important for data continuity. Edward: Yes, because the data collection migration has got to happen first, but then people have got to move over the reporting dependence. Krista: Yep. Edward: What are the biggest unexpected challenges you've seen with established brands who are transitioning to GA4? Krista: There are obviously some feature gaps and those have been challenges. But I think the biggest challenge is really just the mindset—getting people used to a brand new tool. GA4 looks and feels very different. You might log in and look at any of the reports that are out of the box and you see this very ugly scatterplot and you're like, “What am I supposed to do with this?” I think a lot of people don't fully realize what they can do with GA4. So, for example, you can completely customize the UI. You can change the visuals. You can add or remove reports that are important to you. You can organize them any way you want. You could never do that in UA—so you can really make GA4 your own. I think that's going to be really important to help people get more comfortable and want to move over. But I think the biggest hindrance is really just a lack of training, a lack of knowing what to do with the product, and just a bit of fear over that unknown. Edward: It’s deceptive because the UI looks very similar at first glance. But then when you start digging, you realize there’s a lot of stuff that’s very different. Krista: (laughs) Yeah. Edward: As you said earlier, obviously there are some feature gaps, particularly around e-commerce. A lot of the out-of-the-box ecommerce reports are missing. For us, the most obvious gaps are around the shopping behavior funnel and checkout completion funnel. But they also exist around the product level analysis which, as you say, is blocked by the lack of item scope dimensions. Are you seeing brands able to replicate some of those using the explorations module? Krista: Yes. So I have several large ecommerce clients that are working on GA4 and we have replicated a lot of those reports within Explorations. The nice thing about that is you actually get to be a lot more specific about what you want in those funnel reports. You can break them down, you can add multiple segments side by side. You can do things like showing the elapsed time between steps or making it an open and closed funnel. So I do think there are actually a lot of benefits to doing that way, but it’s more work to set it up out of the box. “The nice thing about (GA4’s Explorations feature) is you actually get to be a lot more specific about what you want in those funnel reports. You can break them down, you can add multiple segments side by side. there are actually a lot of benefits to (creating reports) that way, but it’s more work to set it up out of the box.” And because of the way that the Explorations permissions work right now, it's very frustrating. You can't actually share access to a report. You can share the report, but then somebody has to make a copy of it and edit it to make it their own. You can't have a shared report that anybody can, for example, change the date on or add a segment to. I think that that's limiting, so I'm hopeful that those permissions will change and become more friendly over time. Edward: Yeah, because the other thing that’s obviously lacking is any ability to share report templates. As ecommerce specialists, we have to build ecommerce template reports. Can you see Google opening up the template galleries to third parties? Or was their Custom Report Gallery not seen as a success? Krista: I don't know that they didn't see the Custom Report Gallery as a success. I don't think it was really top of mind for them. I hope that there will be some sort of a template gallery for Explorations. I think that as more and more people move to GA4 and see that they have to do a lot more in Explorations, that demand will bubble up. I guess we'll see, but I'm hopeful that we will see something like that. Edward: I think it would be a solution because as you say, the problem is not that you can't build analysis reports. The problem is that it just takes some analytics knowledge to build the report. Krista: And you can't do the same type of funnel visuals within Google Data Studio, for example, where you could ship that template because it doesn't have the same processing due to how data studio gets that data from the API. So it's not easily replicable in a shareable fashion. Edward: What about GA4’s connection with Google Ads? How do you think getting accurate data in GA4 helps brands make the most of Google Ads? Krista: I think it's similar to how brands are utilizing Universal Analytics with Google ads, right? It's that conversion data—so goals in UA or conversions in GA4. Then with Google Ads, you can link those conversions and optimize your campaigns that way. I think one of the hidden benefits that maybe isn’t very well known within GA4 is that conversion data is now essentially calculated based on data-driven attribution for everyone. So you can actually change that model and choose what you want if you don't want data-driven. But if you think data-driven is a good model for you, then your ads are now bidding to conversions that are based on that. So that's a difference, but it depends on how impactful that really is for your business. Other than that, I think GA4 operates pretty similarly to UA. [tip]Move your ad strategy to first-party data solutions all around by running dynamic Facebook ads with the new Conversions API.[/tip] Edward: That’s interesting. I see data-driven attribution as one of the big perks of GA4 because it was previously a GA 360-limited feature that is now available for all. So what you're saying is that not only can you run the data-driven attribution within GA4, but you can basically do that within Google ads as well? Krista: Using your conversions right from GA4, if those conversions are being calculated using data-driven attribution, then that will flow through to Google ads. Edward: Cynically, one of the problems we come against is brands whose agencies want to see the conversions directly in Google Ads. Because the attribution model is more greedy, and obviously from the agency's point of view, it makes their campaigns look better (laughs). Krista: Yeah, I've always wanted to say absolutely not. My conversions will be based on GA—but to each their own. Edward: The other big advantage for GA4—which gets our bigger customers excited—is the BigQuery sync or the “ensemble data export.” The question there is, do you think that will be a “free forever” feature? Because that was previously a big plus of upgrading to GA 360. Krista: I do think it'll be a “free forever” feature. However, in the past couple of months, Google has started to enforce the data limits of the free export. I think that limit is a million per day. So if you go over, then that's probably an upgrading type path for you. Honestly, if you have that much data, there are probably other reasons why you might want to upgrade as well. But I do think it'll be free forever. That's one of the big value props of GA4, that everybody now has access to this raw end data. Edward: Yeah. As you say, it's really just that they're just enforcing what was already consistent with regards to volume. Krista: Mm-hmm. But they have actually released the ability to filter the data that you export into BigQuery. So even if you are going over that limit, you can choose what data you want to export to stay under that limit. I think that's actually a really nice additional feature there that helps to make that BigQuery export continually usable, even for businesses with high volume. Edward: Are there any other big features we haven't talked about that you think would be beneficial to an e-commerce brand that made the switch? Krista: Yeah, one feature that I love that's actually beneficial to all types of businesses is enhanced measurement. I love enhanced measurement because out of the box, it's six additional events (well, five if you don’t count page views) that are just collected on your behalf if you allow Google to do it, and you can toggle them on or off. In my opinion, it really helps to democratize data because a lot of businesses were not going to have the resources or the time or effort to be able to go add those types of events. And now they're just going to get them out of the box, which gives them a lot more insight into what's going on on their sites. “I love enhanced measurement because out of the box, it's six additional events that are just collected on your behalf… it really helps to democratize data because a lot of businesses were not going to have the resources or the time or effort to be able to go add those types of events.” Edward: Back in the day when we were doing Google Tag Manager setups, these metrics used to be on the standard list of stuff that you’d say the brand could invest in for enhanced tracking, but it was all manual steps to do so. So it's nice that it's out of the box. Krista: Totally. Edward: Is there anything else you think might be interesting for our audience to know? Krista: Just one word of wisdom, really a warning to people—you're going to need to figure out how to save your historical data. Google said that at least six months after the deprecation date, views will still be available to look at. But after that point, access to them is going to go away. So you won't have access to that historical data after potentially January 1st, 2024. That means brands need to think about how they're going to export their data from Universal Analytics and keep that historical data. It is possible, and there are a lot of ways to do it. I think there's a big business opportunity. We're going to see a lot of new businesses going into this space here. We may see some helpful tools from Google as well. Who knows? But I think that's something to just keep in mind as we get closer to that deprecation date. Edward: I totally agree. I was recently chatting with a customer about the ways to do it. Ultimately it boils down to what analysis you’ll want to do with that data. Because using the reporting API, you can’t export every historical event. You need to decide ahead of time what you want to compare. I told the customer that ultimately you're going to want to do some kind of historical analysis, maybe year-on-year type comparisons. What’s tricky is, as you say, either businesses have got to take a greedy approach and export as much as possible before the close-off or really decide what they're going to want to compare after it. Krista: Yeah. I think for most of my customers, I'll probably recommend a simpler route where we narrow down what their key reporting metrics are (or have been) and focus on exporting those. The sooner you get GA4 set up, the more historical data you'll have there. I've been running GA4 for about three years now. But obviously, not everybody is. If you get it set up before June of this year, though, you'll have your historical data. Edward: Which for most brands is good enough. Krista: Right. There are some brands that want more. But realistically, how often are you actually looking back at that data from five years ago? Not very often. If you are, it's looking at very high-level metrics like how many users or sessions or page views you had and what you’re at now. Edward: Most brands I know have changed the tracking implementation multiple times within that five years. So it's not really valid to look back that far. Krista: Yeah. I think it's more of a shock factor that you're losing access to the data rather than something that people actually need and use all that often. Edward: To wrap up on something we discussed at the very beginning—as you say, the investment brands need to make in GA4 is more in learning how to use this new tool. Are there other particularly good resources you’d recommend for people to learn about how to build their reports? Krista: Yeah, I think there are a lot of great blog posts out there from so many different people in the analytics community. Selfishly, I'll say I have some great GA4 courses from KS Digital. My students have been very happy. You get to learn directly from me and they include live Slack access and office hours. So it's not just video learning but direct interaction where I'll answer all your tough GA4 questions. Google has some resources and there are other great courses out there as well. I've always learned so much just from following blogs and social media on the topic. Quick links: Get ready for the rise of Google Analytics 4 and sunsetting of Universal Analytics Learn why data is critical to your DTC growth strategy See We Make Websites ideal headless tech stack, featuring Littledata’s Google Analytics connector Read 10 benefits you can enjoy when you make the move to GA4

2022-05-20

The rise of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and sunsetting of Universal Analytics

Last week, Google formally announced that they will be “sunsetting” Universal Analytics and pushing all users to move to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) by the second half of 2023. Does this mean that you should drop everything now and start fully embracing GA4? Actually, things are a bit more complicated. Like everything in the world of data, we recommend a methodical approach to the change. We’ve already outlined Littledata’s approach to GA4 for ecommerce stores. So in this article, we’ll take a deeper look at what Google just announced, what this means for your analytics setup, and recommend next steps for merchants using Google Analytics with ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. [tip]Get excited for what GA4 has in store with our 10 reasons to make the switch.[/tip] What’s happening to Universal Analytics? The summer of 2023 may very well be remembered across the ecommerce industry for the rise of GA4, as Google is officially sunsetting its predecessor, Universal Analytics (aka UA, GA3, or the “old version” of Google Analytics). Google’s official announcement, which you can read in full on their blog. This announcement may have come as a bit of a surprise to some. GA4 has been available for a while but wasn’t made a priority before. Fortunately, moving from UA to GA4 doesn't have to be a headache for your team—as long as you have the right setup in place. Littledata already has a GA4 connection in beta that select customers have been using for months. Google promises GA4 will bring an adjustment to more granular data, giving users more insights and better control over customers' privacy. That second point is especially important as the industry makes a major shift away from cookies toward embracing first-party data across platforms. [note]Setting up GA4 on your ecommerce store only takes a few clicks with Littledata. New and existing users can set up GA4 on their store free and ensure they're ready for the new era of analytics.[/note] What we know about GA4 On July 1, 2023, Google will stop standard Universal Analytics properties from processing data. Your Universal Analytics reports will remain visible for a short period after the change (Google hasn't specified how long) but new data will only flow into GA4 properties. In other words, if you haven’t already, you need to create a GA4 property ASAP. With the switch to GA4, Google promises several significant changes aimed at making its Analytics tool more “consumer-focused” overall. This, among other features, includes: A privacy-centric design to maintain key insights despite cookie blockers and privacy regulationsA new UI designed to showcase customer behavior through key events, and out-of-the-box capability to track those events (without requiring set up through Google Tag Manager)Machine learning models that automatically identify trends in data, such as churn probability, potential revenue from customer groups, and demand increasesMeasurement of both app and web interactions to snapshot the effectiveness of each of your marketing effortsData export to your BigQuery data warehouse [tip]See Littledata’s 10 reasons to move to GA4 for ecommerce analytics.[/tip] At the heart of GA4, Google says, is your customer—and more specifically how they interact with your business. This marks a move away from the old platform-centric measurement to instead track via User ID. The change should give a better picture of what actions customers took after discovering your business and track the whole lifecycle from first impression to final sale more effectively. Potential GA4 user concerns While there’s a lot to be excited about with GA4, the change from UA brings a few uncertainties for longtime users. Early versions of GA4, while positively received, did contain their share of bugs. As the platform won’t be rolling out at 100% perfection, we’ll help answer a handful of the most frequently asked questions we’ve seen around GA4. Will I be able to import historical data from UA to GA4? Most likely, the answer here is no. While you can run UA and GA4 in parallel as you make the switch, Google is launching GA4 as a new platform completely separate from UA. How difficult will it be to use the new interface? There’s no doubt users will experience a learning curve when migrating to GA4’s new UI. In essence, it will come down to thinking differently about what data you’re looking for and then creating reports around that. While this was a common concern in the early beta launch of GA4, Google has already added a number of template reports on funnels, user paths, and cohort exploration. We’re excited to see what’s next! To help our customers with the transition, we’ve already begun building our own Monetization and Retention reports in GA4 that will take over from Enhanced Ecommerce reporting in UA. According to the Google blog, The new Analytics gives you customer-centric measurement, instead of measurement fragmented by device or by platform. It uses multiple identity spaces, including marketer-provided User IDs and unique Google signals from users opted into ads personalization, to give you a more complete view of how your customers interact with your business. These improvements, paired with Littledata's tracking, will improve how businesses customize and assign weight to conversion types. Giving marketers and DTC brands better understanding of the customers lifestyle. Google does provide help documents and introductory courses on using the new interface. However, an easier (and more time-efficient) solution may be to have an analytics expert help set up a GA4 integration directly to your Shopify or BigCommerce store. [tip]We've recently launched a new GA4 Glossary to keep you in the loop on new terms and functions. [/tip] Is GA4 going to be a privacy law compliant, long-term solution for my business? This is one big area where GA4 is not just a solution right now, but in the future as well. Many of the changes made—from the new event-based UI to the learning machine-powered core—are built to adapt and grow alongside the global expansion in privacy laws. In other words, as you venture into the world of first-party data, GA4 will be your loyal guide along the way. What you should do now Our Shopify and Big Commerce stores and agency partners know that when it comes to Google Analytics, you can always count on Littledata as a single source of truth for truly accurate ecommerce data. This will remain true with GA4, and we’re excited about the flexible reporting capabilities in the newest version of Google Analytics. Our recommendation is to add a GA4 property now, but not to rely on it entirely. Instead, Littledata recommends continuing to use UA and GA4 in parallel until at least early 2023. This means that you will be able to explore GA4 while still having accurate, actionable data in Universal Analytics, including Enhanced Ecommerce reports, lifetime value reporting, and subscription analytics. All Shopify and Shopify Plus stores will soon be able to activate both UA and GA4 connections directly from their Littledata dashboards. [tip]Remember, setting up a GA4 connection for Shopify on your store has never been easier than with Littledata! Get expert advice on everything you need to know to make the switch.[/tip]

by Greg
2022-03-25

10 reasons to move to GA4 for ecommerce analytics

In November 2020 Google surprised the analytics world by making the beta of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) the default for all new web properties. Many GA4 ecommerce features are yet to be released, but I think there are compelling reasons to start using GA4 now, especially for data-driven Shopify Plus stores.Google is clear that GA4 is the future for integrating marketing data with Google Ads. Yet there's more to the picture, including custom funnels and other key features which were previously restricted to GA360 (costing $100k and upwards per annum), but are now free for anyone to use in GA4. Here are my top 10 benefits of GA4 from a data analyst’s perspective: Faster reportingCustom funnels *Analysis module *Export raw data to BigQuery *No event collection limits *Track mobile app events alongside web events **Streamlined audience buildingPredictive insightsMore custom dimensions *There’s more to come * Previously only available with GA360** Requires a roll-up property in GA360 Read on to dive into the details of each reason. We'll look at what's new in GA4 and how we expect these features to be useful to ecommerce managers and data scientists. 1. Faster reporting If you’ve used GA with high-traffic sites, especially with GA 360 properties, then you’ll be all too familiar with the ‘Loading…’ bar -- waiting many minutes for some reports to load. Ultimately Universal Analytics was built on 10-year-old data processing, and although the GA4 user interface looks similar, Google has rebuilt it from the ground up for speed and flexibility. In GA4, standard reports generate more quickly and are more powerful at the same time, bringing us to Reason #2: Custom funnels. 2. Custom funnels Goal funnels have always been a useful feature of GA, but the full power to choose a series of events to analyze was previously restricted to GA360, due to high processing costs. With GA4 you easily build a funnel using any combination of events or pageviews, filtered by any event property (see reason #9), with clever features like measuring elapsed time through the funnel. This is equivalent to the funnel functionality that made Mixpanel and Amplitude really popular, and is a massive upgrade on the previous version of GA -- where you could only add events or pages but not both. And where you had to set the goal funnel up in advance to see any report at all! 3. Analysis module The funnel reporting is part of a new ‘analysis’ tab in GA4 that brings more powerful report-building functionality. Compared with the previous ‘custom reports’ in Google Analytics (Universal Analytics), it is more intuitive to add dimensions, with more report templates like the Segment Overlap report below. Hopefully Google extends the template gallery to allow other analysts to share reports, as we’d love to see more reports for ecommerce metrics. 4. Export raw data to BigQuery This is a big one. Power users who wanted to go further and run their own algorithms, or build unsampled reports from raw, row-level data, previously needed a GA360 account. In GA4 you can set up an export to Google BigQuery, steaming events within a few minutes of them being recorded from your website. You pay for the BigQuery transfer and storage, but this is free for smaller sites and merely hundreds of dollars a month for larger sites. This makes GA4 + BigQuery a very viable data warehouse solution for ecommerce, and an insurance policy if you want to own your own data for future analysis. 5. No event collection limits In the free version of Universal Analytics you are limited to 10M hits (pageviews and events) per month, and 500 hits in any one session. For GA4, Google’s policy is ‘there is no limit on the total volume of events your app logs.’ Google has made no announcements on GA360 support for GA4, so these event limits may be subject to change. However, I see unlimited event collection as fitting with Google’s strategy to enable more ad retargeting and head off competition from tools like Heap (which has always advocated maximum possible event collection).There are limits to data export via the reporting API, with higher quotas for GA360 customers. But those limits could be bypassed by maintaining a BigQuery export (see above). 6. Track mobile app events alongside web events GA4 was originally called ‘app+web’ as it built on Firebase’s tracking for mobile apps and extended this tracking for web. Google calls this ‘customer-centric measurement’ as it allows the user-identified app sessions to be measured side-by-side with public website / web app sessions, where user-identification is harder. You could do something similar with roll-up properties in GA360 previously, but getting user identification right was a pain. I don’t rate this as a key feature for ecommerce, because most stores only run a public website, but if you are investing in a native mobile experience for loyalty then this is a killer feature for you. [subscribe heading="Love analytics? Littledata is seeking an Analytics Advocate" button_link="https://blog.littledata.io/2021/01/29/shopify-analytics-littledata-is-hiring/" button_text="See Open Positions"] 7. Streamlined audience building  It is telling that one of the first features launched for GA4 was linking a Google Ads account. Google wants to make GA4 the key way you build audiences for retargeting, and export them to Google’s other products. In GA4, Audiences can be configured with any combination of events, demographics or channel, and then synced with Google Ads. For example, let’s say you want to retarget users over the next 30 days who added a product from the ‘handbags’ category to cart, with a value of more than $100 -- but never purchased. No problem! Go ahead and include users who have triggered the add to cart event with a certain product category and product price, and exclude those that triggered a purchase. 8. Predictive insights GA4 adds a number of features for predictive insights. For example, in analysis and audience building you can add predictive metrics: purchase probability and churn probability. Purchase probability is the chance that a user will purchase in the next 7 days, based on their patterns of behavior so far. Churn probability is the chance that they will no longer be an active user in 7 days. This further improves the kind of audiences you can build. How much more would you be willing to pay to re-engage customers that were in the top 10% of people most likely to buy? For ecommerce analytics, we see predictive insights being used alongside metrics already enabled by Littledata's tracker, such as LTV by channel. Yet another reason to be excited about GA4 for DTC growth. 9. More custom dimensions and user properties At Littledata we add custom dimensions about user behavior over time (their lifetime spend, date of last purchase, and more) to aid in audience building and LTV analysis. This used to eat into the 20 custom dimension slots provided in Google Analytics, but with GA4 you can specify as many hit-scope dimensions with events as you like (not just limited to Category, Action and Label). You can also add up to 25 user properties that are persisted with each user as they get tracked across your site. The only downside is there is no support for product-scope custom dimensions (like sizing or gross margin) as such. You can add multiple item_category fields, which could be used as extra product fields, but I hope custom product properties are on the roadmap. 10. There’s more to come Google stopped developing Universal Analytics a few years ago and any new features will only launch on GA4. Although GA4 is not yet perfect I am really excited about the direction and speed of travel of the product. As Spencer Connell at Praxis Metrics puts it: “GA4 feels like a house which is 60% built - missing a couple of walls, and maybe the roof … but you definitely don’t want to wait until the house is 100% finished before you start moving in.” At Littledata we’re so excited that we have built a beta GA4 connection for Shopify, and we will launch it just as soon as GA4’s APIs are ready. Please get in touch in you're interested in access to the beta release. What you can do now If you want to watch the GA progress from the sidelines, keep checking for GA4 product releases and jump in when you’re ready. But I recommend getting started right now by tracking your site on GA4 in parallel with Universal Analytics (or ‘doubling tagging’ in marketing analytics speak). Josh Katinger at our Google Analytics Sales Partner, Cardinal Path, explains: “Why now? You need an overlap of data. Moving to GA4 is really equivalent to a migration from Adobe Analytics - it’s a platform migration. And when you have a platform migration you want to have overlap, so you have time to understand the difference in the data model, understand the data variations and how to handle them. We are counseling everyone to double tag if you can.” Note that adding GA4 tracking to a Shopify store will not slow down your pages, as Littledata shares the same gtag tracker and server-side tracking for both versions of GA. Have you already started playing around with GA4? Let us know what you've discovered. [subscribe heading="Love analytics? 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2021-02-04

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