Google Analytics 4: What Is It and Why Do TDM Pros Need It?
Every day we rely on big data and analytics. From connecting with friends on social media to finding the nearest bike shop to checking on the performance of our transportation campaigns—we are constantly awash in data. It isn’t until something goes wrong or changes, and that data isn’t readily at hand, that we realize just how much we use it to set the course for ourselves personally and professionally. The transition to Google Analytics 4 this summer was that “uh oh” moment for many in TDM. Yet despite an uncertain start, the analytics tool is nothing short of amazing for TDM marketing pros.
What Is Google Analytics?
To put it simply, Google Analytics is a powerful tool relied upon by transportation agencies and TDM marketers alike, providing valuable insights on the quality and overall performance of both websites and ongoing marketing efforts. TDM professionals need to understand what marketing efforts are driving people to register for ridematching and other programs. Google Analytics provides a means to capture a website’s visitor data, including how users find you, where they come from, and what they do when they get there. With Google Analytics, TDM pros can determine which ads, social and digital channels, and messages are driving action. All this data (and more!) allows marketing teams to track and measure TDM campaigns and to understand better how well they’re meeting their business goals.
What's the Fuss?
In 2020, Google introduced a new system that would eventually replace their original analytics measurement solution. In switching from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), Google aimed to launch a more modern, upgraded approach to data collection. Users had about three years to transition their accounts. Without a sense of urgency or a data scientist on staff to press the issue, there was plenty of time to forget. So not surprisingly, when the old system was discontinued earlier this year in July, many TDM professionals panicked, believing they’d completely lost their data after the transition. Fortunately, that was not the case. The UA data prior to July is still available to view and report on. Still, the initial uncertainty led many to question whether a new analytics system was necessary.
So, Was It Worth It?
With about three months of GA4 officially under our belts, the common consensus is yes. While it may take a little more work to get established, GA4 is overall a more powerful tool than its predecessor, offering more metrics to its users and allowing website managers to hone in on very specific data. It also provides customized reports based on the goals you mark as important to you.
How Can I Access the New Benefits of GA4?
GA4 should have been automatically created (seen with the suffix “- GA4”) and already begun to collect new data from July till now. If this was not set up automatically, there are ways to get started. If you are accessing Google Analytics for the first time, follow these instructions provided by Google. If you are adding GA4 to a site that was tied to UA, you will want to follow these instructions.
There is a lot to be excited about with GA4, and we are hopeful to see even more innovation in the future!