What is GA4? How to Set up Google Analytics

Posted on February 28th, 2023 to Digital Marketing

When you are working on building your cannabis brand, digital marketing is the key to getting a leg-up on your competition in our highly digital world. While many objectives go into building an effective digital marketing strategy as a cannabis business, using Google Analytics (GA) to evaluate customer traffic and engagement is easily one of the most important.

The long-standing Universal Analytics program has been in use for over a decade. However, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is scheduled to replace the outdated version. Below is a look at GA4, what to expect, how it will differ from Universal Analytics, and more.

What is GA4?

Google Analytics 4 is the latest Google Analytics release that allows you to track both engagement and traffic numbers on websites. Google Analytics is a free web analytics software provided by Google to allow website owners to analyze usage metrics for marketing purposes.

The latest upgrade, GA4, is the newest version after the decade-old Google Analytics 3 (also known as Universal Analytics) and will be the only option available by July 1st, 2023. GA4 is slated to provide a more advanced setup that is more mindful of customer privacy and driven more profoundly by the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

How does GA4 differ from Universal Analytics?

GA4 and Universal Analytics are a lot the same, but there will also be significant differences. Both are designed to offer marketers valuable data about traffic flow to websites, but GA4 is much more robust and offers a more comprehensive set of usage metrics. GA4 will actually analyze data across both applications and websites in one place. And, users will get the opportunity to track the data that actually matters because GA4 tracks customer paths even if that customer is interacting with the brand on different platforms. There are also other key differences to consider.

An Upgraded Google Analytics Dashboard

The upgraded GA4 dashboard looks entirely different. Certain reports will no longer be visible right on the home screen. You will find a navigation bar that takes you to different screens, such as the new screen for reports, configurations, and your library. Along the bottom of the dashboard you will find a series of AI-generated insights, such as what keywords are appearing in the conversion path or what keywords are anticipated to offer the greatest conversion rate.

GA4 Tracks Data as Interactive Events

Universal Analytics primarily offers page view metrics as the most important bit of data. GA4 gives you a broader look at how site or app visitors are actually interacting with your brand online. GA4 measures all metric-delivering interactions as events, and there are several new metrics to use. For example, you will be able to look at customer engagement rates, times, and more. The data will go far beyond page views, which were once considered the golden metric to know.

Get Access to Beneficial Predictive Insights

GA4 is heavily reliant on AI, which affords predictive insight instead of information gleaned from past customer behaviors. Predictive analytics can offer metrics that can help with things like:

  • Determining the probability that a customer will make a purchase
  • Predicting your future revenue flow
  • Estimating future inventory needs for the dispensary

Tracking Events Across Platforms

Modern cannabis consumers may interact with a brand from multiple platforms. They may search out the brand through directories like Weedmaps and Leafly on their phones, check out the dispensary website on their PC, and then head to Instagram or Facebook to get a look at what people have to say. They may even check out Google reviews for your dispenary. With Universal Analytics, tracking this kind of customer journey was practically impossible to achieve.

GA4 enables tracking across a broad spectrum of platforms, so you can follow every customer’s journey from acquisition to retention. Each customer gets a unique user ID when they login on a website or app affiliated with the brand. GA4 uses this ID to connect the dots as the customer transitions from one platform to another. This can yield incredibly valuable information, such as what demographics are taking which journeys before making a purchase.

How to Set Up Google Analytics 4

The sunset of Universal Analytics in mid-2023 means all marketers need to get started on using GA4 as soon as possible. There is bound to be a bit of a learning curve with the new system, which means GA4 should be setup well in advance of the imminent deadline. Google has made it possible to use the GA4 Setup Assistant to add a GA4 property to an existing Google Analytics property. To use the GA4 Setup Assistant:

  1. Login to the GA account and click on the Admin icon at the lower-left of the screen
  2. Select the desired account and then the correct property that is in use
  3. Click on the GA4 Setup Assistant and Get Started

At this point, if a pop-up gives you the option to “Create Property,” you can allow GA to use the existing data and develop a connected site tag that will work between your existing Universal Analytics property and your GA4.

If you only see an option to “Create and Continue,” you will have to set up a new Google tag page on your own. You can either use a Google tag already in use or install a new Google tag. Once your new property is successfully connected, you can also use the Setup Assistant to explore the new settings and features.

Once you have taken the time to set up the new GA4 property, be sure to verify data collection. Simply visit your dispensary website and go back to the GA dashboard to see your ragtime reports. If everything is running smoothly, you should see your own browsing activity collected.

Need Help Making the Most of Your GA Data?

Marketing cannabis can be tough, and understanding Google Analytics can sometimes feel like an overwhelming process in an already complicated industry. Need some help along the way? CannaPlanners is here to help you harness data and make strategic moves with website design, email marketing, and more to grow your business.

Let’s Talk

CannaPlanners © 2024