The world of e-commerce is more dynamic than ever before, with data analytics being a central pillar of successful business strategies.
With this increased dynamism comes a myriad of new problems and possibilities. As we head towards the end of Google’s Universal Analytics on July 1st, we’re presented with a golden opportunity to take stock and prepare your data and performance implementations for the next eleven years (yes, that’s how old Universal Analytics is!).
On July 1st 2023 the session-based tracking of Universal Analytics will be turned off and a new generation of event-based tracking with Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will begin.
This change to event-based tracking introduces a new user-centric approach to analytics and puts a focus on individual user journeys across devices and platforms.
What’s the difference?
Session-based tracking organised user interactions into “sessions” which represented a period of user activity on your site beginning when the user arrived and ending once a predetermined window had passed after their last interaction - usually 30 minutes.
User interactions, such as page views, events and transactions were all attributed to a specific session and analysed collectively.
Event-based tracking introduces the capability to track user interactions on a far more granular level, focussing on individual events and transactions and the properties associated with each.
User interactions are all captured independently from one another, allowing for deeper and more detailed analysis of very specific user journeys and the generation of reports and dashboards that more closely match your user experience.
What do I need to do?
As the deadline approaches for UA’s departure there are a few key things that you’ll need to action to ensure your site is setup for data success into the future:
Install and configure GA4 on your site
If you haven’t already, Google will have generated a new GA4 property in your account based on your original UA property. This new GA4 tag will need to be installed in place of the old UA tag on your site.
If you’re ahead of the pack and have already installed your new GA4 tag you’re not out of the woods yet - configuration of GA4 is far more involved than UA was, and your individual events and conversions will need to be installed on your store and matched in the GA dashboard.
Without the additional configuration you won’t be tracking much more than page views and bounces.
Test, test, test
We’ve already encountered several nuances with GA4 that didn’t exist with UA, from duplicate event records to massively increased bounce rates being recorded. **These issues were amplified on e-commerce stores.**
It’s critical you test your installation of GA4, check all of your events and conversions are working and verify the data is being recorded correctly.
Backup your UA data
In 12 months time Google will be deleting your UA data from their systems, there’s a potential here for over 11 years of your data to vanish into the ether.
Your UA data will need to be downloaded and stored in a way that you can retrieve it to continue performing quarterly and yearly reports and analysis.
Consider a more reliable, compliant alternative
With the increase in granular tracking on GA4 questions have been raised regarding it’s compliance with privacy regulations and concerns voiced about how it’s handling user information. Factor in ad-blockers, phones and browsers increasing their focus on improving user privacy and preventing invasive tracking, this is presenting a massive problem for client-side analytics tools like GA4.
On average we’re seeing a 35% drop in recorded page views, events and conversions in GA4 when compared to the Shopify analytics data - which is captured server-side. This increases to 55% when the store has a tech or digital focus as these customers are generally more aware and protective of how their personal information is used online and have tracking prevention in place.
At Process we’re pleased to offer a server-side alternative to GA4 that retains the familiar analytics experience, supplements the Shopify analytics data and reduces that 35% drop in recorded events all the way down to 1%.
In conclusion, the transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) brings significant changes to the world of e-commerce analytics. The shift from session-based tracking to event-based tracking marks a new era of user-centric analytics, focusing on individual user journeys across devices and platforms.
As the e-commerce landscape continues to evolve, embracing these changes and adapting your analytics strategies will be crucial for staying ahead in the competitive market. By leveraging the power of event-based tracking and exploring reliable alternatives, you can gain deeper insights into user behaviour, optimise your marketing efforts, and drive business growth in the ever-changing world of e-commerce.
Click here to get in touch if you’d like Process to assist with your migration and backup.