How to decide if GA4 is right for you

It’s only a few days until Google turns off the free version of Universal Analytics (UA), currently used by more than 28 million websites. If you haven’t yet transitioned to its successor, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), on July 1 Google will automatically do it for you.

While GA4 is a powerful tool with a great price point (the standard version, at least, is free), it may not be for you. It is fundamentally different from UA and requires you to learn a new way of tracking data and new interfaces. So, even if you do use GA4, you will have to learn a new system. That means this is the perfect moment to be sure this new analytics system is the right one.

Here is a guide to determining that for yourself.

GA4 weak spots 

“There are definitely reasons to look elsewhere, depending on your budgets, depending on the type of tracking that you need,” says Sharon Mostyn, CEO of Mostyn Marketing Group. “The one that I’m seeing with a lot of healthcare clients is that Google has said blatantly we are not HIPAA compliant. So that’s a good reason to consider alternatives.”

GA4 is a fundamentally different platform from Universal Analytics. It uses event-based tracking, which means that it tracks user interactions with your website or app as individual events. This is in contrast to Universal Analytics, which tracked user sessions as a series of hits.

The event-based tracking model in GA4 has several advantages. First, it allows you to track a wider range of user interactions. Second, it provides more granular data about user behavior. Third, it is more future-proof, as it is less reliant on cookies.

But it isn’t perfect. In addition to privacy issues, there are a lot of other things to be concerned about. One is having control over your data.

No support

“There’s a thresholding that occurs depending on whether you’ve got Google Signals on,” says Mostyn. So if you’re looking for all of your data there can be a bit of a black box with GA4.” 

Another issue is GA4’s lack of dedicated support or onboarding. This means a lot of work for large businesses with complex websites and data that must install and customize it on their own.

Businesses of all sizes need to keep in mind that there is now a cost for long-term data storage. While GA4 comes with a free connection to BigQuery, Google’s data warehouse, there can be fees for accessing and processing your data.

Questions to consider

Here are a few other questions to consider when deciding on a web analytics platform:

  • Business goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve with your analytics? Do you need to track specific metrics, such as sales, leads, or website traffic?
  • Features and functionalities. Does it have the features you need, such as event tracking, integration with other tools or advanced analytics?
  • Learning curve. How easy is it to learn? Do you need to spend hours on courses or tutorials?
  • User-friendliness. How easy is it to use? Can you easily track the metrics you need and generate reports?
  • Cost. How much does it cost? Does it offer a free plan or a trial version? Are there maintenance or other long
  • The future. Is the platform future-proof? Will it be able to handle your changing business needs?
  • Support. Is support available? How quickly can you get help if you have problems?
  • Data. How does it handle large amounts of data? How easy is it to export data?
  • Stack integration. How easily can it be integrated with other marketing tools?

By considering these factors, you can choose a web analytics platform that meets your specific needs and helps you achieve your business goals.

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