The rise of Google Analytics 4 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 regulations A 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 increases Measurement of both app and web interactions to snapshot the effectiveness of each of your marketing efforts Data 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. 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. 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]
Inspirational stories of data
We’ve been searching high and low for some of those feel-good stories to bring you a little joy and we found the perfect data stories to put you in a good mood! Mike Schmoker said it well: “Things get done only if the data we gather can inform and inspire those in a position to make a difference.” Here are the stories that inspired us, making a difference in our lives. And if you like data as much as we do, trust us, you’re going to love these! The Dear Data project We recently came across this fun project, Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, about sharing their personal data, as pen pals. Dear Data, is a year-long endeavour of two designers living in different parts of the world, creating a friendship that will last a lifetime. They collected and hand-drew their personal data, sending it to each other in the form of postcards. With social media being the forefront of conversations these days, this beautiful story helps bring back the nostalgia of communication. If this doesn’t give you chills, we don’t know what will! What they did Every week, for a year, they collected and measured some sort of data about their lives through drawings. Each recipient would be given a code to decipher the picture. They used postcards to express themselves, and you can see a beautiful example below: Spirit of Alan Turing Now here’s a story that’s a little different, bringing the wonders of art and data together. There’s a new installation in Paddington commemorating Alan Turing, a computer pioneer and codebreaker that was born in 1912. The piece of public art shows an array of flashing lights that showcase changing words by Nick Drake, a Hackney-based poet. His poem brings a look into Alan Turing’s past in the present, presenting his spirit through data. It’s a thought-provoking installation using algorithms that bring with it intensity. The intent is to find some sort of pattern or code, and as people stroll by, someone will notice the meaning behind the project. And as the Londonist says, “That really is good art” and we agree! This is not the first attempt at celebrating Alan Turing, and we definitely hope it’s not the last! The design of data for the world We’ve found the man that’s dedicated his life to data and in a creative way! Brendan Dawes creates projects focused on data for himself and the world around him, whether they’re art installation, interactive forms of communication, or a way to bring out a smile. As he perfectly sums up, “whilst I often work with data, I believe data by itself is not enough; data needs poetry.” One of his 2014 exhibitions that struck interest is the Dot Dot Dot exhibition. The show made use of data in some form or another. A few data-inspired installations included ‘The Happiness Machine’ and ‘Moments in Music’. When a button or dot on display was pressed on The Happiness Machine, a mention of the word ‘happy’ by a random stranger on the internet was printed for all to see. What a feel-worthy moment to showcase happiness through data. The Moments in Music exhibit developed unique art pieces, from data derived from sound waves. Through a software, songs were analysed and then specific moments were printed, showing real-world moments from digital music. Our final thoughts These wonderful stories prove that data doesn’t have to be overwhelming and mundane and you can really add your creative twist to any project. Individuals observing data needs to decipher it in a creative way, whether it’s to bring results or prove an experiment as there are a multitude of aspects. At Littledata, we come up with creative solutions to improve your performance through Google Analytics. We make data creative so you can enjoy the benefits! Have you read any other inspirational stories recently? Leave a comment below or contact us! Further reading: New in Littledata: an improved navigation, trend detection algorithm, and more Take your ecommerce website to the next level Analytics in store - online and offline Image credit: Image courtesy of Engadget, Dear Data, Brendan Dawes, and Londonist.
Making the detection of significant trends in your traffic easier to see
Our core belief at Littledata is that machines are better at spotting significant changes in your website’s performance than a human analyst. We’ve now made it easier for you to get specific alerts, reducing the time spent wading through data. This is the story of how we produced the new trend detection algorithm. Enjoy! Back in 2014, we developed the first version of an algorithm to detect if today or this week’s traffic was significantly different from previous periods. This allows managers to focus in on the aspects of the traffic or particular marketing campaigns which are really worthy of their attention. Although the first version was very sensitive, it also picked up too many changes for a single person to investigate. In technical language, it was not specific in enough. In June and July, Littledata collaborated with a working group of mathematicians from around Europe to find a better algorithm. The European Study Group with Industry (ESGI) originated in the University of Limerick’s mathematics department in Ireland and has helped hundreds of businesses link up with prominent mathematicians in the field to solve real-world problems. Littledata joined the latest study group in University College, Dublin in July, and was selected by a dozen mathematicians as the focus for their investigation. Andrew Parnell from the statistics department at University College, Dublin helped judge the output from the four teams that we split the group into. The approach was to use an algorithm to test the algorithms; in other words, we pitted a group of statistical strategies against each other, from clustering techniques to linear regression, through to Twitter’s own trend detection package, and compared their total performance across a range of training data sets. Initially, the Twitter package looked to be doing well, but in fact, it had been developed specifically to analyse huge volumes of tweets and perform badly when given low volumes of web traffic. In between our host’s generous hospitality, with Guinness, Irish folk music, and quite a lot of scribbling of formulas on beer mats, myself and our engineer (Gabriel) worked with the statisticians to tweak the algorithms. Eventually, a winner emerged, being sensitive enough to pick up small changes in low traffic websites, but also specific enough to ignore the random noise of daily traffic. The new trend detection algorithm has been live since the start of August and we hope you enjoy the benefits. Our web app allows for fewer distractions and more significant alerts tailored to your company’s goals, which takes you back to our core belief that machines are able to spot major changes in website performances better than a human analyst. If you’re interested in finding out how our web app can help you streamline your Google Analytics’ data, please get in touch! Further reading: 7 quick wins to speed up your site analysis techniques Online reporting turning information into knowledge Will a computer put you out of a job?
New in Littledata: an improved navigation, trend detection algorithm, and more
We’ve got some exciting news! We’ve launched some great updates on our web app, which will make your lives a little easier. Find out how the navigation has improved and new in-app messaging will help you find out more, get a glimpse into our trend detection algorithm and new reports on mobile devices! Our mission is to make the way you gain access to important analytics, an all-around easier process and we know we’re heading in the right direction with these updates. We already give you actionable and easier to understand insights of your Google Analytics and now we’ve made the experience more friendly based on your invaluable feedback! Find your reports quicker We’ve improved the navigation of the web app, giving you one new category, and two updated categories on the left-hand side of your profile, which are now simpler to find and easier to understand. There are currently three categories: Dashboard, Benchmark, and Reports, which will be visible to you depending on your Littledata package. Instead of having them in separate locations, we brought them together into one navigation panel so that you can find specific reports and findings quickly based on your current questions or company needs. Under the reports category, we have changed types of reports into tags. Now you can select one or multiple tags, and decide how you prefer to view the different types of insights you get. For example, if you want to view your trends reports with tips you’re getting, then all you need to do is select those two. The benchmark category brings together all the benchmark metrics available for your site, and to see more detail click on the individual benchmark you’re interested in. You can still see the category you are being benchmarked against just above your benchmarks. If your current category is ‘all websites’ then you should make this more specific by updating the category in the settings. The Dashboard is the latest addition to these categories, which we added to be able to provide a flexible and customised solution that is perfect for reporting needs that go beyond standard Google Analytics reports. See below for more detail. Get our custom dashboard This is a new feature, available to clients who are also receiving consulting services on top of our Pro package. Please contact one of our lovely experts if you’d like to know more about these features, and how they can give you the results you strive for. The dashboard category is completely customisable, which we develop through consulting services by going over what your goals and needs are, and then creating these reports for simple and actionable insights of your data. These reports are completely flexible and allow you to see metrics that are difficult to view in Google Analytics, which include: Calculations, such as performance changes in percentages and conversion rates Combined metrics and dimensions from different reports Custom visualisations of trends based on how you prefer to see the data. Want to include a pie or bar chart? Not a problem. A custom schedule for dashboard data refresh. If your reporting requires weekly, quarterly or annual updates, we’ll set it up for you. Customised reports based on your formatting preferences, so if you'd like to include your brand colours, it's a possibility! Our smarter algorithm When we started Littledata, we developed a trend detection algorithm to find significant changes in your data and send you alerts, reducing the time spent wading through data in Google Analytics. But as times change and data gets busier, we needed a better way to serve your reporting needs. So recently we collaborated with mathematicians to improve the algorithm, which is now sensitive enough to pick up small changes in low traffic website, but also specific enough to ignore the random noise of daily traffic. Want to hear more about this intriguing story? Find out more in our blog post: Making the detection of significant trends in your traffic easier to see! Are mobile devices losing you customers? Analytics from mobile devices is extremely important. Through our web app, you will find out how many transaction or users you lost due to poor experience on mobile devices. According to Dave Chaffey at Smart Insights, 80% of internet users own a smartphone. A growing number of people are searching through their phones and as a result, we’ve incorporated mobile devices reports. They will spot and highlight potential issues around responsiveness, layout or bugs. Finding out which devices are the worst will allow you to optimise your website and campaigns to capture all of these individuals. Your personalised communication We completely agree with Intercom’s belief that “customers today want to communicate with the people behind the business, not with a faceless brand”! This is why we’ve integrated their messenger into our web app so that you can chat with us directly and quickly. There’s a great deal of custom features available, including formatting, delivery, and most importantly the different ways to respond. You can choose your own way to chat and react, with images, audio, emojis, video, and more. If you want to know more about the expert you’re talking to, you can view their profile within the app. Our customer experience is key in our business model and we hope this function delivers that. If you have any questions regarding any of the new features, please contact us, or use the in-app messenger! Image credit: Image courtesy of Smart Insights and Intercom
Vital Google Analytics custom reports and dashboards for ecommerce
Standard reports are useful to an extent. Custom reports and dashboards, on the other hand, allow you to compile metrics that give you much more useful insights of how your online shop is performing. Monitoring and reviewing the right data is essential for deciding which tactics or initiatives you should try, or marketing platforms to focus on, to help you sell more. If you are very familiar with how Google Analytics (GA) works, then you would set up some custom reports and dashboards to quickly access your key metrics. But if you are not as knowledgeable about the quirks and inner workings of GA then you should take advantage of the many custom reports and dashboards available for import. We can also help you build custom dashboards. There is a huge number of reports available in Google Analytics Solutions Gallery; used, created and shared by experts. They’re all done from scratch and designed to maximise your use of Google Analytics, but the huge amount of solutions from dashboards and channel groupings to segments and custom reports do require some time to find what’s right for your needs. From our experience setting up ecommerce tracking and reports for companies like MADE.com, British Red Cross Training, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, these reports and dashboards are valuable when analysing purchase data. Don't lose sight of your conversion rate Keep an eye on your ecommerce conversion rate across five different tabs covering channels, keyword, mobile devices, cities and campaigns. Focussed on high traffic sources, each section shows where it's not up to scratch and needs your attention and tweaking. Get ecommerce conversion rate performance custom report. Find duplicate transactions Duplicate transactions can greatly skew your numbers and affect your reporting, making you doubt the accuracy of your data. Duplicate order data is sent to Google Analytics typically because the page containing such information has been loaded twice. This can happen when the page is refreshed or loaded again. To find whether your data contains duplicate transactions, add our custom report to the view you want to check. Get a custom report to check for duplicate transactions. If you have more than 1 transaction in any row (or per an individual transaction ID), that means you have duplicate transactions stored in your data. It’s worth checking the report on a regular basis, eg monthly, to make sure that there are no duplicates or they’re kept to the minimum. Lunametrics blog has a number of suggestions for how to fix duplicate transactions. Overview of ecommerce performance This overview dashboard brings important top level metrics into one place, so you don’t have to go searching for them in multiple reports. You will quickly see which of your campaigns, channels, and sources are bringing in the most revenue, whilst comparing conversion rates across each. Get ecommerce overview dashboard. How is your store content performing See how your customers are engaging with your site, content and product (or page, depending on the setup) categories. You'll get information on what they search for, and which categories and landing pages bring in the most revenue. Get ecommerce content performance dashboard. Looking for improving your ecommerce tracking and reporting? Get in touch with our qualified experts. Further reading: Take your ecommerce website to the next level Attributing goals and conversions to marketing channels Tips to optimise your ecommerce landing pages Image credit: Image courtesy of Juralmin at Pixabay
Setting up common email software for Google Analytics
Many of the popular email providers make it easy to automatically tag up links in your emails to allow Google Analytics to track them under the 'Email' channel. Without this, the traffic from email links will be dispersed under 'Direct' and 'Referral' channels, and you won't be able to see which emails really drive engagement or sales. Here are the links to set up some common email services: MailChimp Campaign Monitor ActiveCampaign Benchmark Email ConstantContact iContact Emma MadMimi GetResponse Mail Jet If your email provider is not in the list, or you send emails from your own platform, you'll need to manually paste in tagged up email links. Still need some help? Contact us and we'll be happy to answer any questions!
Why do I need ecommerce tracking?
Attributing goals and conversions to marketing channels
On most websites, the conversion journey involves many different routes and across many sessions: few customers buy from the first advert. You may have heard of the ‘rule of 7’. In reality, it varies from maybe 2 or 3 touches for a $20 purchase and definitely more than 10 for an enterprise business service. Your company is buying prospects (or traffic) from a number of online channels, and in many cases, it will be the same potential customer coming from different sources. To be able to report on this in Google Analytics, we need to get the basic setup correct. Tagging campaigns for attribution The first step is to make sure that the different traffic sources can be compared in a multi-channel report are consistent and have complete inbound link tagging. Be sure to tag your campaign correct with our URL Builder. Some tools (such as Bing or Mailchimp) have options to turn on link tagging for GA - although it's buried in the settings. With many others, you will have to add the necessary ‘UTM’ parameters onto the link. Without this tagging, many sources will be misattributed. For example, affiliate networks could send referrals from any of thousands of websites which will appear under the ‘referrals’ channel by default. Facebook ads, since the majority come from the Facebook’s app, will appear under the ‘direct’ (or ‘unknown’) channel. From when full tagging is in effect, the channels report will start to reflect your genuine traffic acquisition source. But don’t expect a 100% match with other tracking tools – see our article on Facebook – GA discrepancies. Importing cost data The cost for any Google AdWords campaigns can be imported automatically, by linking the accounts, but for any third party campaigns, you will need to upload a spreadsheet with your costs on. The benefit is that now you can see the return on investment calculation update in real-time in the multi-channel reports. Model attribution The final step is to decide how you will attribute the value of a campaign if it forms part of a longer conversion pathway. The default for Google Analytics (and most others) is ‘last non-direct click’. That means that the most recent TAGGED campaign gets all the credit for the sale. If the user clicks on 5 Facebook ads, and then eventually buys after an abandoned basket email reminder, that email reminder will get all the sales (not Facebook). This attribution is what you’ll see in all the standard campaign and acquisition reports. You may feel that it is unfair on all the work done by the earlier campaigns, so ‘linear’ (sale equally credited to all tagged campaigns) or ‘time decay’ (more recent campaigns get more credit) may be a better fit with your businesses’ goals. Conclusion Multi-channel marketing performance attribution is not a luxury for the largest companies. It’s available to you now, with the free version of Google Analytics. It will require some setup effort to get meaningful reports (as with any measurement tool) but it has the power to transform how you allocate budget across a range of online marketing platforms. But if this still is not working for you then you may have a problem with cross domain tracking. Need a bit more advice or have any questions? Get in touch with our experts or leave a comment below!
Personally Identifiable Information (PII), hashing and Google Analytics
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