Is Google Analytics hard to learn? – From beginner to expert

Learning Google Analytics is difficult. Although it’s the most popular web analytics tool, many users lack the knowledge to get to the bottom of their data. The new version is even harder to master. Ironically, that makes it even more interesting to start your GA study journey today…

Key takeaways

  1. Everybody who is active or interested in digital marketing and data analytics can profit from learning Google Analytics.
  2. The time needed to learn GA depends on several factors, such as your motivation, goals, and background.
  3. You don’t need any skills or specific knowledge to learn GA.
  4. GA doesn’t require coding skills.
  5. You can learn GA on your own, but you need to be self-disciplined.
  6. Attending online live GA4 classes speeds up your learning process.

Is learning Google Analytics worth it?

Learning Google Analytics is absolutely worth it for anybody who is doing a job related to digital marketing or data analysis. GA is the most popular web analytics tool in the world and the demand for professionals has been rising since the release of GA4.

As with any skill set you learn, it is important to understand your WHY first. This is different from understanding why Google is ending Universal Analytics which is an entirely different subject.

Understand why you are entering this learning path and everything else becomes crystal clear: 

  • the time needed to learn
  • the level you need to aspire
  • and your ideal learning method.

So, allow me to first briefly explain WHY you could profit from learning GA.

The following segmentation (yes, that is one of the GA concepts) is based on the student profiles of our Data Driven U programs. However, the required GA knowledge depends on the profession and ranges from “absolute beginner” to “absolute expert”.

1. Curious digital marketer

Not every marketer needs to know the ins and outs of GA. However, the more you understand how your job impacts traffic and conversions on a website, the stronger your professional position will be.

Every digital marketing can profit from understanding the basics of Google Analytics

If you don’t aim for a flatline career as a digital marketer, there are 2 darn good reasons to learn GA:

  1. If you understand GA, you can easily prove that you are making a difference. After all, data doesn’t lie.
  2. Understanding data from GA will definitely help you become better in your job. The moment you see the connection between your expertise and the impact on a website, you will grow in your profession.

This goes for any job in

Reports are not that hard to learn and they show the direct link between your job skills and everything that is happening on a website.

2. Your employer demands that you learn GA

If you have to learn GA because your boss told you so, you are in luck. Organizations that invest in training their staff are usually excellent employers.

In reality, small organizations rarely have the budget to employ a full-time analyst. Sometimes, the responsibility is assigned to someone who is not qualified, but has some gaps in the working schedule.

If you are in this situation, this is a golden opportunity.

  1. You can add Google Analytics as a skill set to your CV.
  2. This will for sure strengthen your position within a company.
  3. Stakeholders need data. If you can provide them with answers based on data, you may be rewarded with a career boost.

The more you learn about GA, the stronger your position as an employee

My advice to you: go, no sprint the extra mile.

3. Freelancers or agency owners looking for opportunities

The demand for Google Analytics as a service is booming. Especially the latest version of GA offers tons of opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs:

  • Freelance web designers
  • Web agencies
  • Marketing agencies

Even if you are a newbie to GA4, you can learn it and gradually offer the services to your clients.

If you include GA on the must-learn list of yourself or your team, you will

  1. Pick the fruits from your study for years.
  2. Have a serious competitive advantage.

As for your GA expertise level you will need to achieve the intermediate level ASAP. Most of your clients will be stuck in the beginner level.

If you want to become an expert, you will have to get familiar with other Google tools, such as BigQuery that you can connect to GA4, Google Tag Manager and Looker Studio (formerly known as Data Studio).

The beauty is that you don’t need to know and understand everything about GA before you can add it to your services.

Our team has carefully composed a set of GA4 SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). This will help you and your team to set up GA4 in no time for your customers.

4. (Aspiring) data analysts

When you are a student or unemployed, you can drastically increase your chances on the job market by studying GA in depth. As a data analyst, deep knowledge of GA is an absolute must.

  • There is a high demand for data analysts. As a result, the salaries are attractive and this is for many people a good enough reason to dive deep into GA.
  • GA is only the tip of the iceberg of analytics tools you need to master. Instead of learning UA, focus on the last version.

5. Google Analytics teachers

Some professionals and businesses make a living by teaching others how to use tools, such as Google Analytics.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a marketing professor, like Jeff Sauer, the founder and lead instructor of Data Driven U.

In fact, nowadays teachers take many shapes and forms:

  • In-house trainers for large data teams
  • Consultants and training companies
  • Bloggers and YouTubers
  • Technical journalists
  • Influencers
  • Etc.

If you understand your audience and a tool like Google Analytics, you need to become as close as possible to a GA expert in the long run.

And if you persist long enough, you can share your GA best practices with us.

6. Founders and website owners

As a founder or website owner, you need to have at least a basic understanding of GA. If you are self-employed or have a small team, you will probably be the in-house GA expert.

It’s challenging to run a company and learn GA on top. But if you don’t have any experience or interests at all in web analytics, this may cost you a lot.

Basically, you can profit from learning GA to get insights into

  • the ROI of your marketing
  • the user behavior on your website or app, including purchases, filled in forms.

Now you know why learning GA is important to you. You also have a slight idea of the level of GA expertise you need to reach.

Let’s find out how much time you need to study and practice your skills…

How long does it take to learn Google Analytics?

The time you will need to learn Google Analytics depends on what you want to achieve with your knowledge. Your know-how, preferred learning method and availability to study also play an important role.

It is therefore impossible to give you an exact time estimation.

Your study time will take something between

  • 20 minutes (to set up a GA4 account for the first time)
  • and several 1,000 hours to become a GA guru master ninja expert.

In the previous paragraph, I already mentioned that the time needed highly depends on what you want to do with GA. In case you missed it, let me quickly paraphrase it:

  • A curious marketer who understands the traffic acquisition report may have finished a GA training in a couple of hours.
  • But if you want to make a living as a Google Analytics consultant, you will have to spend a lot more time in GA.

What should I learn before Google Analytics?

Google Analytics doesn’t require any pre-knowledge. Even with no background or experience in data science or web analytics, you can learn it.

Of course, your technical skills and background knowledge can slow down, or speed up your learning process.

  • Are you totally new to web analytics and data?
  • Do you like to play around in tools or do they scare you off?
  • Do you have technical analytics skills?
  • And what about your background knowledge of marketing, web design development, content production, distribution…

If, for instance, you don’t have experience with data analysis and Google Ads, you will have a harder time getting familiar with Google Analytics attribution.

I would also like to mention that if you have experience with Universal Analytics, you may have to put in a lot more effort to learn GA4, compared to a newbie. The new version challenges you to unlearn a lot first and find solutions for, e.g., the missing views.

Does Google Analytics require coding?

You don’t need any coding skills to use GA. If you implement the tag, your data starts rolling into your account.

Some website platforms, such as Squarespace, only require that you enter the GA measurement ID. For others, you can use plugins. Easy-peasy.

As a beginner, you can spend days, weeks, or even months getting acquainted with GA without complicated technical expertise.

This changes the moment you want to track specific events on your site, such as more advanced scroll depths. But even that is possible without coding.

Can you learn Google Analytics on your own?

Yes. You can learn Google Analytics on your own. There are tons of free and paid online resources. But self-study can be harder than learning in a group. It all boils down to your motivation and self-discipline.

I want to give you some tips that can make your self-study journey easier.

  1. Understand clearly why you want to learn GA. This will prevent you from diving for hours into the rabbit hole of the official support pages.
  2. Create a list of GA topics you want to understand. The setup assistant may be a good starting point. Or you can also follow a GA4 course with pre-recorded videos. A course will automatically save you hours trying to figure out your ideal course material.
  3. Reserve time in your schedule. Even if you can only spend 15 minutes every day fully focussed on Google Analytics, you will make progress.
  4. Take notes while you are studying. Watching a YouTube movie every time you need to apply the instructions will waste your valuable time.
  5. Apply the 80/20 rule. Spend 20% of your time learning, reading. Then apply what you have learned. This may be impossible if you only have access to GA4 of a production environment, but with the GA4 demo accounts, you already have hours of exploring ahead of you. With just the demo account you can become quite proficient in GA4 even without a website.

Not everybody is a disciplined student. Luckily, self-study is not your only option…

What is the best online live course to learn GA?

Online learning courses imply you rely on yourself to learn GA. If you prefer to attend live classes, the GA4 CYA Blueprint is your best option.

Here probably best a picture of the CYA, but I don’t have any

Here are 4 good reasons to take part in our exclusive program:

  1. Jeff Sauer is the instructor. Since 2015, his courses have helped over 17,000 data-driven students like you.
  2. You will obtain a Google Analytics certificate that is worth more than the official one.
  3. The interactive online classes are tailored to small groups. Your fellow-students will help you expand your professional network.
  4. You can ask any questions related to GA and that are important to your situation.

This is not your only option though and you can check out this article for a long list of resources (including several free ones) that can help you learn Google Analytics 4.

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