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Looking forward with Google Analytics 4


A monumental shift in website metrics is upon us.

For more than a year, Google Analytics, the internet’s go-to platform for monitoring website traffic, has issued alerts about the sunsetting of Universal Analytics (UA) and introduction of its replacement, Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

With the July 1, 2023, deadline mere days away — and after many months of exploring the new interface and modern approach to metrics — BrownBoots is both ready and eager to take advantage of the future-facing iteration of Google’s website-tracking tool.

What we’ve learned (and loved)

GA4 takes a fundamentally different approach to website analytics than its predecessor. It doesn’t build upon what came before so much as bulldoze the past to construct a separate platform from scratch. To be blunt, web admins who are accustomed to accessing and organizing their website data “the old way” will face a surprise — and possibly frustration — when they log into the new system.

But although the learning curve is somewhat steep, the changes successfully shift the system’s approach from recording every mundane interaction on a site to focusing on meaningful metrics.

Whereas UA was technically customizable, since you could drill down into the data using pre-established filters, the old system largely depended on a default setup, displaying common high-level (and sometimes superficial) metrics. GA4, on the other hand, presents something of a blank slate.

Yes, there are still reports that show pre-determined categories and feeds, but those aren’t terribly useful out of the box. The default view is more like a foggy forecast than a clear evaluation of the current environment. Where GA4 shines, however, is its custom explorations, which provide a powerful understanding of how visitors use your site, which visitors are most valuable, how traffic flows through the site, and what bottlenecks visitors might be encountering during their customer journey.

When paired with Google Tag Manager (GTM), GA4 makes it very easy to keep tabs on what UA called “Events” — without having to plant copious code snippets throughout the HTML of your website. That’s right: you no longer need to tag individual links or buttons. Leveraging GTM, this data can flow into GA4’s explorations to illustrate not only what links were clicked, but also the origin of that traffic.

To put it simply, we’re impressed with what GA4 can do, excited to push this new tool to the limit, and make our websites even better based on what we learn from it.

Actions we took for every bank website

From the start, our top priority for each of our bank websites was to make sure a GA4 property was created and correctly configured to pull data going forward. For those websites where BrownBoots wasn’t set up as an admin for the Google Analytics account, we reached out to our clients to request permission or, barring that, did our best to explain what they had to do to ensure continuity.

To create a new GA4 property from the existing UA, we followed these steps:

  • Enabled data collection using the existing UA site tags
  • Confirmed that data was, indeed, being collected
  • Turned on Google Signals
  • Clicked through seven individual settings in the new GA4 property to confirm setup was completed
  • Linked the GA4 property to Google Ads accounts, when available
  • Linked the GA4 property to Google Search Console, when available
  • Configured the GA4 property to track site-search keywords

We completed these steps so that when UA stops collecting website traffic data on July 1, GA4 will continue to capture comparable data.

What GA4 means to clients enrolled in continuous improvement

In addition to the steps above, we took further action for clients currently pursuing our Post Launch Success Plan as well as those who continue to receive regular reports and recommendations for website improvements from us.

These ongoing evaluations typically contain metrics related to pageviews, trends, visitor locations, devices, acquisitions, anomalies (and explanations), website performance reports, and any other data deemed important, per client. While some of the individual metrics might change, based on what GA4 makes available, our process has not: we will continue to gather the data, interpret it, and then make suggestions based on what we find.

Clients enrolled in continuous improvement will get their first glimpse at the new report formatting in the weeks and months to come — depending on their established schedules — with no interruption in service.

More GA4 options

If you don’t currently receive regular website analyses from BrownBoots and feel overwhelmed by this drastically different Google Analytics program, we’d be happy to add you to our rotation for continuous improvement!

Additionally, here are a couple more ways we can help:

GA4 Training

With GA4 training, we teach you what you need to know so that you can manage your website analytics yourself.

During our tour of GA4, we’ll make sure you know how to access the new system, walk you through the interface and built-in reports, teach you how to set up your own explorations, discuss which types of explorations might be best for your bank website, and demonstrate how to export the data for your own reporting.

Custom Configuration

Clients who want a customized GA4 view but don’t want — or don’t have time for — training can lean on our expertise to set up access to the metrics that matter for your bank website. In addition to displaying the baseline data about your visitors, where they came from, and some of what they do on your website, we’ll dig deeper into individual calls to action (e.g., online applications, phone numbers, videos).

If you currently depend on Google Events in UA, we can work with you to connect GTM to your GA4 property (if it isn’t already) and configure GA4 so that you don’t stop collecting the data from these important interactions. If you’re driving traffic to your website through paid ads, we’ll be sure to integrate that information as well.

Bottom line: we know change can be challenging. Over the past year, we’ve positioned our bank websites for successful analysis via GA4 and remain committed to helping our clients keep their sites effective and relevant.

Tapping into Google Analytics’ robust update represents another significant step forward!

Want to do more with GA4? Let us know how we can help you!

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