Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the newest version of Google Analytics, takes analytics to a different level. Marketers can now leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to track customer paths along several custom parameters across multiple channels. As per Google, using GA4, you can measure traffic and engagement across BOTH websites and apps.
The evolved privacy-centric GA4 leverages data-driven attribution to view a unified customer journey, analyze the full impact of your investment, and generate predictive & holistic insights into user behavior. CMSWire thinks GA4 represents an opportunity to improve the way you act on your analytics.
In addition, with Universal Analytics sunsetting in July 2023, GA4 could be your perfect 360o website tracking and analytics ally. However, other analytics solutions can potentially do the same and more. Let’s dive in to see if they can deliver!
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google’s analytics platform that provides granular insights about visitor activity on the website and application. GA4 uses AI and Machine learning (ML) to deliver advanced reporting capabilities, besides several new functionalities and enhancements to enable tracking across the length of a user’s journey.
GA4 provides a more flexible, comprehensive, and advanced set of functionalities to monitor and analyze your website’s performance – making it an indispensable data-driven tool for businesses that rely on digital identity. As per Google, GA4’s stronger analytics experience makes it the future of web analytics.
What’s changed in Google Analytics 4?
GA4 focuses on events and user interactions rather than counting page views.
It tracks and reports on specific actions (events), like playing a video or filling out a form for a more in-depth understanding of visitor engagement, enabling educated data-backed decisions to optimize the user experience.
Furthermore, GA4 is more privacy-centric – allowing better data collection, retention, and deletion. The AI-enabled reporting interface is more streamlined and supports different stages of the user journey alongside Machine Learning (ML) & Behavioral Modeling that address data sparsity issues and provide more sophisticated forecasting abilities for contextualized insights.
Furthermore, “Conversion Events” will replace Goals, and the Bounce Rate definition has changed to be more time specific.
What are the new features of Google Analytics 4?
With a more modernized dashboard, GA4 has a new look and feel. Furthermore, it has changed how it analyzes user sessions through event-based tracking – tracking across multiple touchpoints and using AI and ML to predict user behavior and churn probability.
The reports are more customizable, the insights more real-time, privacy is pivotal, and audience building & custom funnels have become more analytical to give digital marketers more control & agility and enable informed decisions for a higher return on marketing spend.
eCommerce tracking improved through custom parameters, allowing more data collection about products. Search is more intuitive, create custom channel groups, and the number of Properties and Sub-Properties has increased.
What are the Limitations of GA4 Reporting?
- Hard to migrate data, reports, and tags from Universal Analytics to GA4
- 50 event-scoped custom dimensions and 25 user-scoped custom dimensions only
- The views functionality is not present in GA4.
- Inability to automate and schedule recurring email reports.
- Lack of acquisition reports, GA4 offers 3 while Universal Analytics offers 30.
- Delays of up to 12 hours before the data appears in a report.
- Conversion tracking is complex and requires Google Tag Manager for most items.
What are the main benefits of GA4?
- Holistic cross-channel and cross-device view of the customer’s journey
- Granular and accurate user data with reduced dependency on cookies and identifiers
- Built-in predictive insights to identify trends and opportunities in data.
- Automated analysis to help diminish laborious data-related activities.
- Better Integration with Google Ads to track and measure the impact of the ad spend
- Better privacy and compliance with regulations like GDPR, CCPA, etc.
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Google Analytics 4 – Why Should You Make the Switch ASAP?
GA4 provides a wealth of data, in-depth reporting standards, better cross-device tracking through “data streams,” operates on ML algorithms, and streamlines the user behavior analysis for empowered and accelerated data-driven decisions.
Additionally, Universal Analytics will retire in July, making it imperative to shift now. Start accumulating the data, examine functions, unearth capabilities, define objectives, and monitor critical metrics. Maintain continuity with existing data and avoid disruptions by accurately comparing and mapping GA4 events to historical UA data.
Migrate before the deadline and avoid losing the ability for detailed comparisons to prior periods.
Alternatives of Google Analytics 4
- A more accurate bounce rate measure through tracking codes
- Logs page views, outbound links, and downloads by default
- Backlink analytics and more comprehensive heat map activity than GA4
- On-site analytics lets you view analytics integrated into the site.
- Free, Monthly, and Yearly plans at $0, $9.99, and $79.99
2. Matomo Analytics
Matomo enables clear user pathways, visibility into channels giving higher ROI, comprehensive insights across the conversion funnel, and A/B testing on webpages. Use media analytics to collect data on video & audio content. Use social media analytics to monitor social engagement. Extract customized reports, embed 3rd Party tracking codes, and gauge the performance of ad campaigns better.
- Compared to GA4, Matomo has an intuitive interface with better navigation
- Get Heatmaps, Session Recordings, Scroll Depth, etc., unlike GA4
- Better data compliance and ownership. Self-host and store in any country
- Import Google, Bing, and Yahoo keywords with ease.
- Setup custom goals, prepare reports with over 200 metrics and configure form analytics.
- On-premise starts from $0, and the Cloud plan costs $23.
Get quick and complete insights into your customer journey on an intuitive no-code dashboard to improve your digital experience across all channels. Create segments, view visual maps of user flows, replay user sessions, capture accurate data through event tracking, ensure security and privacy, get contextualized data, and integrate with other tools.
- Complete data foundation, unlike the superficial high-level KPIs in GA4
- Data science and endless replays eliminate blind spots and pinpoint the exact moment.
- Qualitative session replay and Quantitative behavioral analysis
- Uncover gaps and use real-time granular suggestions for ad-hoc decisions.
- Free and Growth plans. Pro and Premier plans require a custom quote.
The advanced, democratized, and automated analytics of Woopra tracks everything everywhere. Unify data across multiple touchpoints & tools, analyze journeys, trends, segments, & more, and act in real-time with built-in personalized triggers. Uncover insights through Full-funnel, obstacle, churn, product, subscription analysis, and more.
- Map detailed user journeys end-to-end, unlike GA4
- Incorporate CRM data and sales data into user profiles.
- Customize user funnels and flows to see drop-offs and friction points.
- In-depth and unlimited tailor-made reports in unique templates
- Core free plan, Pro plan at $999/month, and a custom quote for the Enterprise plan
The one-stop-shop Gauges, tracks, and updates visitor activity in real-time across multiple touchpoints. Build custom attribution models, manage campaigns, and prepare collaborative reports to expedite decision-making. Examine content, product, pages, segment, regions, etc., to prepare an impactful online identity through multi-dimensional learning.
- Sync and refresh user-profile data almost instantly. Delayed in GA4
- Collects granular insights to form a comprehensive profile, unlike GA4.
- Offers a much leaner UI and UX experience than GA4.
- Offers more trackers across pages and 3rd party channels than GA4.
- Solo, Small, and Plus at $6, $12, and $48 per month plans
6. Piwik PRO Analytics Suite
The multi-channel attribution tools, custom reporting features, simple & stylistic dashboard, unlimited properties & views, 30-minute data freshness, and metasite & real-time analysis help to provide holistic access and drill-down on user data. Tag manager, automatic triggers, A/B tests, content personalization, and other features streamline your analytics exercise.
- More control of data privacy and compliance. Data resides in EU servers.
- Raw data access via API, CSV export, and Tableau connector; GA4 needs BigQuery.
- Dedicated Customer support and onboarding capabilities, unlike GA4
- Comprehensive analytics for web, mobile, SharePoint, product teams, etc.
- Free Core plan and an Enterprise Plan through a custom quote
What is the best GA4 alternative?
With so many overlapping stand-out features, it’s hard to pick one solution that nails the analytics game. They all deliver on many aspects, but Piwik Analytics Suite edges out. Piwik is a value-for-money all-in-one suite jam-packed with features to support every activity of your digital analytics roadmap.
Piwik is a fit-for-purpose tool that provides compliance, ease of implementation & use, technical support, multi-channel integration, and a widespread community. Furthermore, you get detailed documentation, data visualizations, Google Ads integration, session-level tracking, customer journey analysis, and more.
Future-proof your website analytics reporting with GA4 or any of the alternatives. Ultimately, the best solution depends on your preferences. So, take the time to extensively evaluate your options. If you require help configuring advanced analytics, need help measuring webpage performance through tagging, or need help picking the right analytics solution, reach out to our experts.