Should you start using the newest version of Google Analytics (GA4) now? And, if so, which features should you implement and when?
Well – let's start with the bottom line first. YES – you should begin using GA4.
In fact, the sooner you start using this new platform, the better, because… like it or not, your current Google Analytics setup is soon to become incompatible with the future of website tracking and you'll have to reserve time for a Google Analytics 4 migration.
With that in mind, today, I'll reveal how to get up and running with Google Analytics 4.
I'll also share which features to focus on now. And I'll break down what to watch for in the coming months as Google continues to update GA4.
The month-to-month roadmap I'll layout will provide you with a clear plan for getting started with GA4. And, it will give you an idea of which features to focus on so you don't get overwhelmed by all the changes.
Follow along, and I'll detail my Google Analytics 4 Roadmap for you.
Parallel tracking – January
If you haven't already set up Google Analytics 4 to track your website(s), I recommend doing that today. The best way to get started with GA4 is to use a technique called parallel tracking.
Here's how parallel tracking works…
You continue to track your site using your existing Universal Analytics property. And, you also create a new property that uses GA4.
After you've created your new GA4 property, you can install your tracking code on your site manually or using Google Tag Manager. (I used Google Tag Manager to do this).
When you set up your new GA4 property, don't forget to turn on “Enhanced Measurement.”
GA4 Vs. GA3 – February
After you've built up a month or so of data, I recommend comparing your two analytics properties, GA4 and GA 3 (Universal Analytics).
Comparing the data you collect via parallel tracking will help you ensure you set up GA4 correctly. It will also help you get comfortable with the new data model GA4 uses to report on your website.
Comparing two separate analytics properties in multiple browser tabs can be a bit cumbersome. So coming soon, I plan to release a GA4 Vs. GA 3 Data Studio Dashboard.
Using this dashboard, you'll be able to compare your GA4 and GA3 properties side-by-side with just a couple of clicks. (If you manage analytics accounts, this is a great way to show clients your progress and sell them on the value of building up their GA4 account).
If you want to get your hands on this dashboard, do me a small favor and leave a comment below. I'd love to get an idea of how much demand there is for this resource.
Data clean up – March
I used to refer to Google Analytics as a pageview tool. The reason? Unless you installed event tracking, GA would only tell you if someone looked at the pages on your website… (not what they did on those pages).
In Google Analytics 4, event tracking is the foundation of the platform. GA4 is powered by event data, not pageview data.
What this means is you can set up some advanced reporting right inside GA4. But, you also have to do a little bit of customization so that your reports are clear enough to interpret.
In March, I recommend customizing your events so that your reports become more meaningful.
Another cool new feature in GA4? There are no more limits on how many goals you can track. That's right! You can track as many conversions as you want.
You can also turn your custom events into conversions. Page scrolls, video views, etc. – You can make these events conversions.
While you're doing your data clean up, I recommend setting up some custom conversions to track in your reports.
Monetization reports – April
What's referred to as “e-commerce” in Universal Analytics is now called “Monetization” in Google Analytics 4.
Monetization is the sum of all e-commerce, subscription, and ad revenue.
The big change that catches my eye here is the ability to track “subscription” revenue. This update is a major win for anyone who runs a subscription-based service or business. And I, for one, am incredibly excited to start testing this feature.
Also, if your current e-commerce tracking is set up is in the data layer, here's a bit of good news. Google will let you send this data into GA4.
In April, I plan to migrate my e-commerce data to GA4 and test the Monetization reports.
(PSSST…. Want me to show you how to piggyback your existing E-commerce tracking into GA4? In April, I am hosting a live event where I show exactly how this works. Keep your eyes open for news about the Data Driven Insiders if you want to attend this event).
Explore GA4's new reporting functionality – May
Inside GA4, there's a host of new reports – Funnel Analysis, Path reports, Cohort Analysis, and Segment reports.
Once you have a few months of data accumulated, you can test out these new reports. So, I have May earmarked as “reporting month” in Google Analytics 4.
BigQuery integration – June
BigQuery allows you to do large scale analysis on Google Analytics data.
Until now, BigQuery integration was only available for the $150K plus enterprise version of Google Analytics.
But, inside GA4, the BigQuery integration is available to everyone.
So In June, what am I going to do? You guessed it! I am going to set up my BigQuery integration.
On top of that, I'll be hosting another Masterclass to show how everyday Google Analytics users can make the most of the BigQuery feature.
Your Next Steps?
Now that you've seen my 6-month roadmap, what do you think?
Does breaking down GA4 implementation into one objective for each month make it easier to digest?
And, would you like to jump on a live workshop with me every month where I show you EXACTLY how to do everything I just covered?
If you're interested in joining me for our LIVE GA4 workshop series, leave a comment below. And, if you're up for it… also let me know which Google Analytics 4 feature or improvement your most excited to test!