Google Analytics Will Never Be The Same

You may have heard of GA4, formerly known as App + Web. GA4 is the new version of Google Analytics, which first appeared back in the Fall of 2020. As I see it, GA4 offers a wide variety of advanced improvements over Universal Analytics. I’ve noticed that they have removed/renamed some of the stats in a way that may be more helpful to the general audience. This includes the less obvious Bounce Rates and the renaming of Average Session Duration to Average Engagement Time. But, there are also many things that I’m not too excited about in this newest update from Google.

Less Beginner Friendly
I’ve seen some articles that disagree with this statement, but I’ve found the new GA4 to be far less user-friendly than the previous Universal Analytics version in my limited tests. When talking with clients and showing them the interface, they’ve mentioned that many of their frequently used reports are gone. Google has said they are still working on various improvements to the design and functions of GA4, but I believe the absence of the reports may be on purpose. Their new tracking system of Events lends me to believe they expect the users to make their own reports. My clients and bosses have also shown confusion toward some of the event names, like ‘user_engagement’. This event is triggered when a user either closes their browser tab or window, or switches to another tab or website. My clients have interpreted this event as more of a click or scroll, which are separate events recorded by GA4.

Missing A Lot Of Important Reporting Elements
I’ll preface this by saying that they are still working on adding features from Universal Analytics, but some things are missing that I’d consider rather necessary. For example, take this graph from a report that is sent to Webster Printing every month;

A heatmap graph showing the number of sessions per day per hour on Websters homepage over the course of one month.

With the new GA4 system, this graph that was made in Google Data Studio can not be completed. Maybe I’m just missing something, but I can not set the ‘Hour’ header as ‘Hour’ or any other time format. This has led me to believe that GA4 does not support a graph like this at this time. This is very useful as you can tell that most people use the site between 10 AM and 3 PM on Tuesday-Thursday. Now that you know when people use the site and don’t, you know when would be a good time to push a significant update (when no one uses the site) and when would be a good time to push a new hero image to try and get some of your visitors to view a new service that you’re now offering.

So Why Am I Talking About This Now?
On March 16th, Google announced that they would be retiring the Universal Analytics system. You will still have access to reports for an unknown amount of time, but after June of 2023, Universal Analytics’ will cease to receive any information for any website. This is why I recommend setting up a GA4 property within Google Analytics as soon as possible. This will help you retain historical data as well as help to adjust you to using GA4 before you are forced to.

HyperDirect Is Here To Help
As I said, this is a much more complicated system to understand and use than the current Universal Analytics version. This is why I’ve been working on creating a new service that would allow me to run your analytics for you. You would get a report on your website performance on a scheduled basis and a monthly consultation meeting with me to learn how to improve your website and make users complete the actions you want them to. I have been working tirelessly to put the most value that I can fit into this service while still keeping it low cost. So keep checking back and watch my FaceBook page to find out when we launch this new service!

** EDIT: The cost has been set at $60/month and you can find our analytics consulting page here.

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