Google is officially sunsetting Universal Analytics (UA) this Saturday, July 1. And if you haven’t yet switched to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), Google will do it for you.
GA4 is a powerful analytics platform – but is it the right solution you – even if it is free?
Fundamentally different from UA, GA4 requires you to learn a new way of tracking data and new interfaces. So, even if you’ve been using Google Analytics for years, GA4 is an entirely new system you need to learn.
Now is the perfect moment to be sure this new analytics system is the right one.
Here is a guide to determining that for yourself.
GA4 weak spots
“There are definitely reasons to look elsewhere, depending on your budgets, depending on the type of tracking that you need,” says Sharon Mostyn, CEO of Mostyn Marketing Group. “The one that I’m seeing with a lot of healthcare clients is that Google has said blatantly we are not HIPAA compliant. So that’s a good reason to consider alternatives.”
GA4 is a fundamentally different platform from Universal Analytics. It uses event-based tracking, which means that it tracks user interactions with your website or app as individual events. This is in contrast to Universal Analytics, which tracked user sessions as a series of hits.
The event-based tracking model in GA4 has several advantages. It:
- Allows you to track a wider range of user interactions.
- Provides more granular data about user behavior.
- Is less reliant on cookies, making it more future-proof.
But there are disadvantages to consider with GA4.
In addition to privacy issues, controlling your data is one of many things to be concerned about.
“There’s a thresholding that occurs depending on whether you’ve got Google Signals on,” Mostyn said. “So if you’re looking for all of your data there can be a bit of a black box with GA4.”
Another issue: GA4’s lack of dedicated support or onboarding. This means a lot of work for large businesses with complex websites and data that must install and customize it.
Businesses of all sizes need to keep in mind that there is now a cost for long-term data storage. While GA4 comes with a free connection to BigQuery, Google’s data warehouse, there can be fees for accessing and processing your data.
Questions to consider
Here are a few other questions to consider when deciding on a web analytics platform:
- Business goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve with your analytics? Do you need to track specific metrics, such as sales, leads or website traffic?
- Features and functionalities. Does it have the features you need, such as event tracking, integration with other tools or advanced analytics?
- Learning curve. How easy is it to learn? Do you need to spend hours on courses or tutorials?
- User-friendliness. How easy is it to use? Can you easily track the metrics you need and generate reports?
- Cost. How much does it cost? Does it offer a free plan or a trial version? Are there maintenance or other long
- The future. Is the platform future-proof? Will it be able to handle your changing business needs?
- Support. Is support available? How quickly can you get help if you have problems?
- Data. How does it handle large amounts of data? How easy is it to export data?
- Stack integration. How easily can it be integrated with other marketing tools?
By considering these factors, you can choose a web analytics platform that meets your specific needs and helps you achieve your business goals.