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Google Analytics Is Changing in 2023 — Are You Ready for GA4?

January 09, 2023 in Local Search, Website Design

Vector illustration shining a spotlight on google analytics 4.

Bree Daily, Managing Editor

5 Minute Read:

As marketers, we have all grown accustomed to not only checking Google Analytics daily but relying on the data provided to guide us and provide concrete information regarding how to proceed in an ever-changing online marketing landscape. 

For years, we have relied on Universal Analytics, Google’s previous analytics system. However, times are changing, and a privacy-first landscape is taking hold. Cookie pop-ups are switching from third-party to first-party to increase user privacy and give more transparency. And this is only a part of the change. Updated privacy protection laws, including the CCPA and the GDPR (laws that protect users’ privacy rights by regulating personal data processing), have all contributed to the need for a new way of data tracking. 

Enter Google Analytics 4, Google’s new “privacy-first” tracking system.

Like all new roll-outs, Google Analytics 4 — or GA4 — offers the latest and most advanced ways to learn, collect, and analyze data from your users.

Understanding Google’s Next-Gen Data Measurement System

As you enter 2023, you no doubt have questions about what this next year will look like in terms of your business and the right way to market your business or practice. The last few years (especially since COVID began) have been a rollercoaster of sorts for the plastic surgery industry — as it has been for nearly all industries. 

If you are a plastic surgeon, you likely experienced a surge of new business through 2021 as stimulus checks padded your clients’ wallets and terms like the “Zoom Boom” and “Quarantine 15” took hold and pushed potential patients to your doors. While many plastic surgeons and cosmetic practices have maintained this high level of bookings, fears of a recession are looming, and it makes sense that you could be concerned about what that means for you and your practice.

As you consider the potential changes that may be coming, it is important to remember that these changes will likely be within certain parameters, so it is important to stay informed and be prepared to adjust your practice accordingly.

While not always a direct link, viewing and tracking analytics is vital to understanding what might be going through your potential client’s minds as they determine what’s going to be in their future.

And while Universal Analytics provided significant amounts of useful information, it relied heavily on desktop web interactions and cookies, leaving “gaps” in the user’s journey.

GA4 is designed to fill in these gaps to provide a more complete view of the user journey across multiple platforms and devices over time. In addition, by using Google tag manager, marketers can track user journeys across multiple platforms and devices over time, allowing them to gain a more comprehensive understanding of user behavior and preferences, as well as identify potential gaps in the customer experience.

What Did Universal Analytics Do?

Universal Analytics (UA) measured data based on individual user interactions on a website and observable data from third-party cookies. This included page hits, e-commerce hits, event hits, and social interactions. 

Given the changing landscape, these processes no longer provide a well-rounded user profile.

How Does GA4 Bridge the Gaps?

Google Analytics 4 is designed to take data analysis into the future, providing a more complete picture of your user and what they are looking for. 

Unlike UA, GA4 uses AI to fill data gaps, allowing for modeled insights and predictive capabilities. This machine learning does not rely exclusively on cookies. Instead, it uses the “App + Web” platform, released in 2019, which focuses on cross-channel data, including data from the website, apps, and software. 

Event parameters are data points that can be used to measure the success of an event, such as the number of visitors, the duration of their stay, the number of purchases made, and the amount of time spent on the website, apps, and software, which are all tracked and monitored using the “Data+Web” platform released in 2019.

Focusing on the User 

One of the greatest changes and benefits offered with GA4 is that it allows you to see a much more comprehensive and complete view of the user’s “lifecycle.” Instead of fragmented data and page hits, you have the opportunity to learn about the user and even predict their actions.

With GA4, marketers can view an entire user journey from their first visit to their final conversion across multiple platforms and devices.

By configuring the user journey analytics, businesses can gain insight into how their customers interact with their products and services, from their first visit to their final conversion, across multiple platforms and devices.

Instead of just relying on the number of “hits” a page gets, GA4 focuses on “events” to better understand the customer and their entire interaction with you.

An event trigger is a specific action taken by a user that can be tracked and measured in Google Analytics 4, allowing you to gain a better understanding of the customer and their entire interaction with you by tracking the events that occur throughout the customer’s journey.

A data model can be used to capture and analyze the data associated with the customer’s journey, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s experience and their interactions with the business, by tracking the events that occur throughout the customer’s journey.

By tracking the events that occur throughout the customer journey, practices can measure conversions, such as purchase decisions, subscription sign-ups, and other actions that indicate a successful patient experience, to gain valuable insights into patient behavior and optimize their strategies for maximum patient satisfaction.

GA4’s machine learning takes the guesswork off of your shoulders and provides insights into your customer journeys while keeping user privacy in mind. So, even if cookies fall to the side, data analytics is still there. 

GA4 is built to be able to adapt as privacy laws continue to change.

Comparison showing the difference between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.

Do I Need to Make the Switch to GA4?

GA4 is Google’s next-generation and default web traffic and data analytics software.

While Universal Analytics will not necessarily disappear right away, GA4 is the way of the future, and you will need to make the switch and prepare your site so that you do not lose the data you collected with Universal Analytics. 

Universal Analytics will stop processing new hits as of July 1, 2023 (slightly later if you have Universal Analytics 360). You will still be able to access your UA data (at least until the end of the year); however, you cannot generate any new data with Universal Analytics after July 1. 

Since every piece of data matters, waiting until after July to complete the switch can result in a loss of valuable information.

Universal Analytics will stop processing new hits as of July 1, 2023. Make sure you have GA4 in place.

Plastic Surgery Studios Has Our Client’s Backs With GA4

We believe in being ahead of the curve at Plastic Surgery Studios. This is why we have already set up the new GA4 properties for all our clients and will continue to monitor and adjust for any new changes to analytics.

Plastic Surgery Studios is a full-service marketing agency dedicated to helping you get the most out of your advertising efforts. Our digital marketers are skilled in helping practices like yours reap optimal benefits from your efforts.

Contact us today by calling  (888) 525-6360  or filling out the contact form below.

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(909) 758-8300

8659 Haven Avenue, Suite 200
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730

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