Google Analytics 4, or GA4 as you might have seen it, has been the talk of the town among marketers the world over in recent weeks and months. Regardless of the type of industry you’re in, Google Analytics is one of the industry standard analytics platform to help businesses understand the performance of their marketing efforts and measure success online, so when it changes, it’s big news. GA4 will affect almost all website providers, including Shopify, one of the world’s largest specialist e-commerce website platforms.
In this post, we’ll be answering all the important questions about what GA4 is, the impact of GA4 on Shopify sites, and a whole host of other important topics around getting your Shopify site ready for the introduction of GA4.
First things first, a few common questions about GA4…
What is Google Analytics GA4?
GA4 is the newest iteration of Google Analytics! It’s the next generation of digital analytics, reporting, and accurate marketing attribution tools, and will be used by marketers of all kinds – particularly digital marketers and SEO specialists like the lovely lot here at Embryo – to understand a wide range of different metrics such as:
- Number of users and sessions
- Average session duration.
- Average pages per session.
- The ratio of new to returning visitors.
- Bounce Rate.
- Organic vs. paid sessions.
- Google Ads.
- Search Console queries.
- Conversions and conversion rates
GA offers marketers and website owners in-depth reports on key events on their site, including step by step user journey reports through a range of sales channels, real-time reports, standard e-commerce data reports, advanced and complete user journey analytics and so much more.
Will GA4 replace Google Analytics?
The GA4 platform will replace Google Analytics as it appears now. However, GA4 is a version of Google Analytics, so it will still be Google Analytics, just with a slightly different navigation and platform. It’s more accurate to say that GA4 will replace UA (Universal Analytics), which is the existing platform users recognise when talking about Google Analytics.
UA will not be supported after 1st July 2023. That’s why it’s vital that website owners who want to continue ecommerce tracking migrate their analytics over to GA4 before July 1st 2022. By doing this, you’ll still be able to create year on year reports in the future, without risking any loss of data.
Why is GA4 better than UA?
There are a lot of differences between GA4 and UA – primarily the way that GA4 structures and collects its data. UA used what we call a session-based model, which categories data, events, metrics and users by sessions. Instead, GA4 structures and collects its data using an events-based model, which means that every user interaction is collected and presented as a standalone event, rather than grouped together within a given time frame.
By going this, marketers and website owners can take advantage of enhanced analysis including a better understanding of your customer purchasing journey. For e-commerce analysis, this means more accurate and in-depth cart conversion statistics (leading to improved conversion optimisation), better control over customers behaviour and increased insights into the correct marketing channels for different businesses – including ecommerce platforms like Shopify.
This change also means that GA4 is more flexible and can offer custom analysis and custom insights for users. It also utilises machine learning (ML) as a powerful tool to be able to better predict user behaviour, and help companies optimise profits in the process.
Can I have both Universal Analytics and GA4?
For now, yes you can have both Universal Analytics and GA4. UA is being retired in June 2023, but GA4 is ready for organisations to integrate and implement Google tags, tracking codes, custom reports and custom funnels (among a range of other ecommerce features).
You can easily run UA and GA4 concurrently, and this is actually recommended by lots of marketers at this point in the UA to GA4 transition for a couple of reasons:
- When UA loses support on June 1st 2023, any data that hasn’t been migrated will be lost. UA and GA4 won’t be connected in any way, so it’s up to businesses to transfer their data over before Google ends support for UA. By running UA and GA4 together, you can be sure that your data will be kept safe and you can continue to track data year on year without any interruptions.
- By starting using GA4 early, you’ll be able to get familiar with the platform over the next 12 months, so that when UA is no longer an option, you’ve already identified your key metrics and are able to find and analyse them effectively in the new GA4 platform.
Is GA4 still in beta?
Nope! GA4 is here now, and ready to use! There is still a year to go before all data is migrated to GA4, but if you want to start using it now, you can easily do so.
GA4 in Shopify
Can I use GA4 with Shopify?
Yes you can! The ecommerce sector has used Google Analytics for years in conjunction with native integrations of your own platform analytics (Shopify analytics, WooCommerce analytics or Squarespace analytics, for example).
How do I get started with GA4 and How do I implement GA4 on Shopify?
GA does look very different to the current UA platform, so it’s natural to be a bit apprehensive around getting started with the UA to GA4 the migration process. There are lots of step by step instructions online, but if you’ve never worked in tracking at all, that might seem even more intimidating.
Google has its own guides for both website owners and developers with lots of relevant info and guides on how to effectively migrate UA to GA4.
- Adding the tracking code to your theme
- Adding the tracking code to your order confirmation page
- Excluding Shopify as a referral in GA4
- Adding your Universal Analytics property ID
However, if you’re a beginner when it comes to ecommerce reports and ecommerce analytics, your best bet is to speak to an expert. At Embryo, our team can help you manage the transition from UA to GA4 quickly and easily, so why not get in touch to make sure you can continue to take advantage of accurate ecommerce reporting and analytics in 2022, 2023, and beyond.