Three Reasons To Start Your GA4 Migration Now

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) became known to marketers everywhere when Google announced they’re turning off their existing platform in July 2023. Since then, GA4 migration lurks as a to-do item, but remains shrouded in mystery.

The July 2023 date is when the Universal Analytics (UA) platform will stop collecting new data. So why worry about it this summer? Migrating your analytics to GA4 soon will ensure you’ll have year-over-year comparison data when GA4 becomes your primary analytics platform.

If you’ve procrastinated, you’re not alone. Keep reading for motivation to migrate to GA4 now, even if it won’t be your main analytics tool for months to come.

1) GA4 is a complete makeover

Google has renamed and re-engineered its analytics software several times to keep up with the modern web. UA was released in 2012. The technology behind GA4 has been on the platform in beta since 2019, but the move takes the platform in a very different direction.

…this upgrade is so different, this vehicle is not even on the road anymore. It is a helicopter, and we all need to learn how to fly one!

Jill Quick, The Coloring In Department

Two major shifts in the web ecosystem drove the decision to move GA4 to the forefront. The first is the move away from static websites toward single-page and mobile applications. The second is the increasing demand for user privacy. GA4 uses event-driven data and data modeling to overcome these challenges.

Event-driven data

The concept of collecting data based on events like clicking, scrolling, and filling out forms isn’t new. App analysts have been using this method for years since their products don’t count pageviews as the primary metric. GA4 applies the concept to both websites and apps.

Data modeling

Ad blockers and device settings make analytics data based on browser cookies imperfect. GA4 separates high-quality first-party data collected with user consent from all other data. Then it uses it to identify trends and repair problems with the lower-quality data.

2) Serious tools to better understand and reach site visitors

Real data nerds will love the level of detail available for analysis after GA4 migration. Exploration reports (before now only for GA360 subscribers) are now available to everyone. These make it easier to dig into data, analyze users, create custom conversion funnels, and segment audiences.

GA4 replaces “bounces” with “engaged sessions”. Analysts know bounce rate has never been very helpful, especially for blog posts. Readers arrive and then bounce, a common activity for a blog post. We’ve always known that doesn’t mean the content wasn’t useful or didn’t fulfill its purpose.

GA4’s “Engaged Session” measures events on the page (scrolling and having a page active for a specified time) as well as clicks to more pages. The new method should paint a better picture for marketers of how people engage with their content on the web.

3) To compare data, you need data

Of course, you don’t have to switch to GA4. If you don’t, you’ll have to ask yourself what tool you’ll be using to measure your digital marketing efforts.

Any year-over-year analysis with the platform’s new tools and methods requires a year’s worth of data. The sooner your team sets up its GA4 property, the sooner you’ll have comparison data waiting on the other side of your GA4 migration.

The sooner your team sets up its GA4 property, the sooner you’ll have comparison data waiting for you on the other side.

Since the base data is different in UA and GA4, any comparison of activity between them won’t be of much value. Installing GA4 on your site and setting up engagement events and conversion events now is critical to track your efforts going forward.

Switching from Classic to Universal Analytics was pretty painless since the underlying measurements were similar. Migrating to GA4, on the other hand, will take some effort to configure, install, and understand. Starting now gives you time to make the change, get familiar, integrate GA4 into your reporting and analysis, and not lose momentum.

Edge is a leader in providing clients with top-tier tracking for websites and campaigns. Our data tracking engineers can help get your data migrated to GA4.

Let’s Get Moving Together

Save Your Marketing From Email Privacy Changes

In the fall, Apple rolled out a suite of email privacy protections for users of its Apple Mail service. One of them alone is enough to wreak havoc on email metrics, but together they call for a rethinking of most email marketing strategy.

What did Apple do for email privacy?

Apple Mail now opens email on its servers before it reaches your recipients’ inbox. This will inflate open rates and skew engagement scores, and it makes it hard to tell who’s engaging with your content.

The “Private Relay” feature hides the addresses of internet users. “Hide My Email” creates unique, random email addresses that can forward to their personal inbox.

How much of my email marketing list does this affect?

Not everyone uses Apple Mail, even among iPhone users, but a sizable amount do. A 2021 study of email opens found Apple and iPhone represented a little over half of email clients in use.

Your email marketing lists will vary from these averages of course. One way to investigate is to use Google Analytics to see what operating systems are in use among your site visitors. To do so, open the Audience report (seen below), choose Technology, then Browser and OS, and highlight the Operating System dimension.

Google Analytics Audience Report showing the Browser & OS being used by a website's users.
Google Analytics Audience Report

Keep in mind that this doesn’t identify email clients, since many people use services like Gmail and Yahoo that are available across operating systems. But it can lend insight into the scope of the affect on your lists.

Three steps to continue to use email marketing confidently

1. Review your current reports and rules

  • Any report you’re using that mentions open rates is immediately suspect.
  • Open rates also drive subject line A/B tests, so those tests also become unreliable.
  • Review and rework automation rules based on whether a person has opened an email.

2. Shift from open to click-based metrics

  • Transition your reports to stable metrics like clicks, click rate, and conversion rate to track true engagement.
  • Change follow-up email rules to send reminders to people who haven’t clicked instead of those who haven’t opened.
  • Use UTM codes on all email links to better track activity and conversions on your site.

3. Keep your eye on the ball

  • Driving action via a CTA click through a conversion is the ultimate goal of most emails sent today. Refine your CTAs, limit them to one or two max per email, and make sure your site’s conversion tracking is up to snuff.
  • Great marketing isn’t changing. Messaging that resonates, personalized approaches, and customer-centric strategies are more important than ever.

Stay tuned

The coming year stands to be very interesting for digital marketers. Between pressure to better protect user privacy and efforts to stave off regulation, more is sure to come.

By taking the proactive steps above, you’ll be in a much better position to take quick action as these changes arise.

Download our guide to Digital Marketing in the Data Privacy Age

Learn about the latest in digital privacy laws and regulations affecting your website and digital marketing, plus how to prepare your strategy for today and beyond.

How a Content Inventory Saves Money and Makes Better Websites

Staring down a new website overhaul can be both exhilarating and exhausting. You’re excited about new features, a new look, and a more refined presentation of your brand and products. But more than likely the content isn’t quite right, so where to start?

As difficult as it is to table all the fun design brainstorming, it’s far more cost-effective to prepare your content first. And the first step of that work is to take a content inventory of what’s currently on your site and what you need for the new one.

What is a website content inventory?

At its core, a website content inventory is a list of all the available content assets on your website. This includes topic pages, product pages, blog posts, pdfs, landing pages, thank you pages, etc.

The inventory often leads directly to a content audit, when you gauge the performance of content pieces and make decisions about future content creation.

Planning ahead is always more efficient than planning behind.

Why you should conduct a content inventory before diving into a web project

Think of your website as a home for your brand. You wouldn’t start building a new house (or shopping for a new one) without assessing what your current house is – and isn’t – providing.

Does the homepage make a clear case for your brand promise? Are your product pages designed to boost engagement? Are you showcasing services that you no longer offer?

How it can save a lot of money and time in design/redesign cycles

Planning ahead is always more efficient than planning behind. Imagine you’re building a home (again with the housing references).

You could hire a contractor and start putting up walls here, a window there, then realize a second story would be worthwhile. Or you could work with an architect to map out how you use your living space, what you want it to do for you, and break ground with a set of plans.

Even with a well-designed plan, there are things that come up that will modify the schedule and deliverables. But it’s always more expensive to work without a plan, and it takes longer.

How to conduct a website content inventory

Step 1: Define the goals for your new site

It’s no longer enough to have a website that simply showcases your brand, products, and services. Website goals need to be aligned with your top-level objectives so it can play a role in meeting them. Be SMART when setting your goals: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Repeatable, and Time-bound.

Maybe your top-level objective is to increase leads for your products. Let’s dig in and define that more specifically:

  • What products need increased leads?
  • Increased by how much?
  • What defines a “lead”? Signing up for more information? Starting an application? Requesting a quote?
  • When do you need these leads? Is there a promotional period? By next quarter?

Given that, specific metrics (or KPIs) might look like:

  • Increase email signups for “product x” information by 20% year over year
  • Increase new users to “service y” content by 40% over previous period

Making a list of these goals really helps understand what your new site will need, outlines how you’ll report on the site’s performance, and focuses your website user’s journey to be most effective once you’ve finished the content inventory.

It’s tempting to dive into content inventory without first mapping goals. Having a clear vision can let you see your existing content with fresh eyes and will make for a more focused and frank audit.

Step 2: Inventory your website

There’s no hack to this. It’s simply a matter of sweeping methodically through your site and cataloging and annotating every page.

We’ve put together our own Content Inventory Tool to track technical stuff like URLs and page titles, but also details about the existing content: whether it needs to be refreshed, who it’s targeted to, what calls to action, and more.

Take a look at how the tool works and share your email to get access to it FREE.

Use the column headers in the Content Inventory Tool as guides for the information you’re looking to gather about each page. Feel free to customize the columns to your team’s best use.

The Content Inventory Tool is meant first as a catalog then to spur discussion on what content stays, what goes, and what needs improvement. At this point it starts pulling double duty as a Content Migration resource. More efficiency!

We love pretty websites, but that’s not a SMART goal

In our experience, putting content first makes sites look fantastic AND perform beautifully. Try the content inventory yourself or contact us to take you through it all.

We love it when a plan comes together. Get in touch about your web project and let’s build something great together.

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