Those of us who have been using Google Analytics for a while will undoubtedly find the switchover challenging. New metrics, a new look, all your data in a different place, it’s like any change, it takes time to adjust and become comfortable with the new. And some people cope with change far better than others.
Key to any data analysis is to be able to compare like for like, and this will certainly be one of the biggest challenges of switching to GA4, as any like-for-like comparison can only go back to October 2020 at the latest, and many people adopted GA4 much later. At Zelst, we set up GA4 accounts for all of our clients at the earliest opportunity so that they had at least twelve months of comparative data, but even then, GA4 has changed quite a lot over those 12 months. This year, we have had to set up GA4 for a number of new clients whose previous agency hadn’t done this, so there will be much less comparative data.
Many people have been avoiding switching to GA4 for these two reasons, but ultimately we are now here, and we have to use it, or we need to switch to another paid provider of Analytics, such as Analytics 360, Adobe Analytics, Clicky, Matomo, Simple Analytics or even Semrush.
Given the costs and the fact that GA4 is a very comprehensive and customisable analytics and reporting platform, and it is free, I suspect most people will stick with it and adjust, but I think it is also essential that you also compare data from other sources.
At Zelst, for instance, we review Analytics data, but we also sense check that with data that we pull from Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster, Google Ads, Meta, Semrush, Ahrefs, etc., so that when we undertake any analysis and make recommendations, we have a solid and robust understanding of the data and what it could mean.
Because the world has moved on, Google Analytics has had to change, and I know, from what people at Google told me over ten years ago, that they were well aware of this and have been working on the new platform for a long time. Much as it would have been nice if GA had smoothly evolved from GA3 to GA4, as it had done in previous iterations, because the datasets are so different, this was not possible, so Google has used the opportunity to change things quite significantly, which is brave but has caused quite a considerable backlash.
So, as uncomfortable as it might be, I think we now need to embrace the new GA4 and all of the potential benefits and opportunities that it offers. Like any data or analytics, if the data is reliable, which in GA4’s case it does seem to be, the key is understanding the trends, interpreting the data and providing actionable recommendations, and this will be the proof in the pudding.
If you need help in analysing and interpreting your data, setting up events, helping set up your Google Analytics or just need help with your Analytics, contact our specialists at Zelst.