Google Analytics 4 Is Happening, Every Day Your Dealership Waits- Is Hurting You.
We really aren't far off from the end of Google Universal Analytics (UA), sometimes also referred to as GA3. Looking around, I'm starting to get the feeling that many dealers (and vendors for that matter) aren't really taking this transition seriously yet. Some are, and kudos to all of you for being proactive about it, but many are not. I get it, change is hard, and we are all busy. However, it needs to be said that every day we wait to get our Google Analytics 4 (GA4) accounts setup and optimized- is a day we can't get back next year.
Google announced last winter that they would be sunsetting UA and ending data stream support altogether on July 1st, 2023. As of this writing that is just 277 days or 8 months and 2 weeks or so away. It might seem like you have plenty of time, but I'd like to remind you of a few things that should (if nothing else) light a fire under you and your vendors to get this done with haste.
- Data Collection for UA properties ends on July 1 2023. There will be no more data processed, and at a certain point- your access to the old UA historical data will also cease to exist.
- • GA4 is a from-the-ground-up rebuild. It can take some getting used to, and even the most proficient UA experts will need to take the time to learn this new tool. GA4 will NOT start collecting your dealership's most advanced and unique datapoints until you learn how to setup custom events and triggers. It's not simply a matter of "turning it on" and letting it do it's thing, for most dealers.
- If you setup your GA4 Account TODAY, and make sure your events and reports are properly configured (more on that here and here), there will still be a 4+ month period next year for which you will have ZERO year-over-year historical data to reference in your GA4 account. This could and likely would cost your dealership time and money. Analytics are the lifeblood of your outreach efforts and big gaps in your data sets will leads to gaps in your bottom line. So in that sense, you're already a full quarter behind, and waiting any longer only puts you even further in the hole.
It should be noted the degree to which your GA4 setup process will be dependent on other platforms like Google Tag Manager (GTM) to get the most complete and proactive picture of user behavior. GA4 is not a standalone, one-stop-shop, you will not only have to understand how GA4 works, but how it works with other tools like GTM, AD's, etc.
Some of the key differences between GA4 and UA that you need to be aware of before diving in head-first are:
- "Events" are the cornerstone of GA4 functionality – Pretty much anything that happens on your website will now be considered an "event" by GA4, including some session and page view data. It's easier to remember that all of these different tracking funnels that were segmented and compartmentalized in UA have now been consolidated under the Events classification. The best part is, with GA4, you have the power to pick and choose which events are important to your dealership and which are not.
- Goals and Session Duration Are Gone - Goals have been changed to Conversion Events, all of which need to be setup individually in GA4 as well as GTM. Session durations have been replaced with Session start and engagement data, which only triggers if a user spends more than 10 seconds (at default) on your site, and ends after 30 minutes of inactivity.
- Reporting features are completely different – GA4 provides all sorts of canned reports, but you will quickly discover that there are things that need to be changed, added, or removed altogether to optimize your reports.
It is a bit of an understatement to say that there is much to learn and much to do with regards to Google Analytics 4. There are plenty of dealers who are feeling overwhelmed about all of these changes, but the easiest way forward is to pick up the reins and get started on your learning journey right away.
If you're feeling like you are ready to start learning, but would like some help getting the most important parts of your store's GA4 account setup, please reach out to the Autofusion sales team (email@example.com, or schedule a consultation here) and we will work with your store to make sure you can get setup quickly so that you can begin tracking and benefitting from Google Analytics 4.