By Edward Janson | November 11th, 2020
With laws such as GDPR and browsers increasingly cutting down on cookies due to a growing concern for user’s privacy, web analytics solutions that fully rely on cookies to gather data on website traffic and user behaviour, such as Google Analytics, are having to adapt.
To tackle this problem, Google Analytics have released a new version named “Google Analytics 4” (GA4), which relies on advanced machine learning models to fill potential gaps in data. Alongside other features, machine learning aims to provide insights and helps identify trends in your data to provide actionable recommendations such as finding segments of users that are generating the most revenue.
A notable introduction is cross-device tracking between websites and apps. If you have an app for your hotel, the tracking integration between both would allow you to see a customer’s entire lifecycle between your app and your website, where the customer was first acquired, and what actions lead to the first conversion across devices.
Retention is also put in focus in GA4, with reports showing what actions a customer may take after completing a conversion.
What is the difference between my current setup (Universal Analytics) and Google Analytics 4?
While Universal Analytics focuses on Users, Pageviews and Sessions, GA4 is all about Events. These events are actions a user takes on a website. For example, visiting a page, watching a video, scrolling down a page, or proceeding to your booking engine’s checkout page.
GA4 introduces a new set of events that are automatically tracked such as video views and link clicks but still requires implementation from a developer to add their set of recommended events such as a purchase, a room view, or a checkout start: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9267738
It is also worth noting that these two versions use different ways of measuring website traffic and user engagement, and therefore data will be different on both.
The user interface and reports have changed. With measurement being customer-centric and data being focused around events, reports outline the customers’ lifecycles and the events they complete, rather than the pages a user may visit in a session. These new reports range from engagement and user acquisition reports to an Analysis hub where you can visualise your users’ journeys through your website.
GA4 also brings new benefits to Google Ads. Although we already action the below for our clients, a deeper integration between the two platforms simplifies and enhances the below:
- retargeting audiences which are most likely to convert
- importing events such as ‘telephone clicks’, ‘email clicks’ and ‘begin checkout’ to further optimise campaigns within Google Ads
A welcome change that can bring data analysis a step further is the ability to export Google Analytics 4 data to BigQuery, a platform which allows us to use the data to, for example, create custom attribution models.
Do I need Google Analytics 4?
With Google Analytics 4 providing additional insights and remaining a free to use service, we recommend its implementation. This will ensure you collect data on GA4 as soon as possible, giving you time to familiarise yourself with the new interface, and being ready for any new features that will be added in the future.
This is not to say to give up on the current tracking you have set up on Universal Analytics, but to set it up alongside it. You will still collect the same data on Universal Analytics as you did before, remaining a strong measurement tool for the time being and most importantly providing invaluable historical data.
Analytics & Tracking Consultancy
If you need support in setting up Google Analytics (Universal & 4) or Google Tag Manager, please get in touch to discuss our Analytics consultancy services. Our team are Google Analytics certified and we’re experts at both the setup and debugging of hotel website tracking.