Understanding Key Differences:
Universal Analytics Reports vs Google Analytics 4 Reports for Car Dealers
As a car dealer, leveraging website analytics and digital marketing strategies is crucial for success in today's competitive landscape. If Google Analytics drives your insights, it's essential to know the key differences between UA (Universal Analytics) reports and GA4 (Google Analytics 4) reports to make informed decisions and optimise your digital marketing efforts. In this blog post, we'll highlight some key differences car dealers should know when interpreting UA and GA4 reports.
To ensure this post is helpful to as many automotive professionals as possible, we have included some background information on Google Analytics and GA4. If you are already familiar with these technologies, skip the Background section.
It's commonly accepted that car dealerships need to leverage data-driven insights to maximise their marketing efforts and drive business growth. Anyone who has attended one of our talks will know that we are huge proponents of data-driven decision making.
One invaluable tool that car dealers can rely on is Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides a wealth of information about website traffic, user behaviour, and marketing campaign performance, offering car dealers a comprehensive understanding of their online presence.
Dealerships should have a custom analytics setup so that their business KPIs are measured and can be improved. There are three main ways that car dealers use Google Analytics:
Data-Driven Decision Making
Google Analytics empowers car dealers with actionable data to make informed decisions. By analysing website traffic and user behaviour, car dealers can gain valuable insights into their target audience's preferences, interests, and what makes them enquire about a car for sale. This data helps optimise marketing strategies, identify high-performing campaigns, and refine targeting efforts to attract potential customers. With Google Analytics, car dealers can make data-driven decisions that result in more effective marketing campaigns and better allocation of resources.
Website Performance Analysis
A well-designed and user-friendly website is critical for car dealerships. Google Analytics provides key metrics to evaluate website performance, such as page views, bounce rates, average session duration, and conversion rates. By tracking these metrics, car dealers can identify areas for improvement, optimise user experience, and increase website engagement. Understanding which pages are most visited, which have high bounce rates, and where users drop off in the sales funnel allows car dealers to refine their websites and improve conversion rates.
Marketing Campaign Evaluation
Google Analytics enables car dealers to measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing campaigns. By setting up goals, tracking conversions, and analysing campaign data, car dealers can assess their advertising efforts' return on investment (ROI). They can identify which channels, campaigns, or keywords generate the most leads or sales, helping them allocate their marketing budget wisely. Additionally, Google Analytics offers detailed audience segmentation, allowing car dealers to target specific demographics, locations, or interests with personalised marketing messages.
What is GA4?
GA4, also known as Google Analytics 4, is the latest version of Google Analytics. It represents a significant update and evolution from the previous version, Universal Analytics (UA). GA4 introduces new features, capabilities, and a more advanced approach to tracking and analysing user behaviour on websites and apps.
The primary objective behind GA4 is to provide a more holistic view of user interactions across different platforms and devices. Unlike UA, which primarily relies on page views and sessions, GA4 emphasises events and event-driven data more. It focuses on customer-centric measurement and emphasises the importance of event-based tracking.
It's important to note that while GA4 offers many advantages and improvements over UA, it may require some adjustment and learning for users familiar with the previous version. Additionally, there are several actions a dealership should take before the sun sets on UA.
Why Should I Move to GA4?
According to Google, unless you are using Universal Analytics 360 (Paid For), your UA properties will stop processing data on the 1st of July this year. Change isn't something dealerships have a choice over; they need to move to GA4 or another web analytics suite.
The good news is that GA4 continues to have a free version; the bad news is that the data in your old UA account will not be stored. You will need a plan to back this data up if you require it. The latest guidance states that data will be deleted on 1st of July 2024.
Some Key Differences between UA and GA4 That Dealerships Need to Know
For those who use Google Analytics daily, there has likely been a learning curve in recent months as they adapt to this new tooling. Within car dealerships, though, most stakeholders in Google Analytics don't use the tool themselves. Still, they do use the output from it.
As mentioned previously, Google Analytics data is used by car dealers to assess the performance of online activities and to make informed decisions. It is, therefore, vital to understand the differences between the data shown in a report from UA and what is shown in a GA4 report. There are too many differences between UA and GA4 to cover everything in this post. Still, we have picked four key areas we feel should be highlighted:
One fundamental difference between UA and GA4 is how they record and define users. In UA, all users are recorded by default, while GA4 focuses on "active" users. GA4 defines a user based on an event parameter specific to GA4 events, making it crucial to understand the context when analysing user data. Total users are still available in GA4 but primarily found within the event report rather than the default channel. This distinction affects the categorisation of new and returning users. While UA considers new and returning users as subsets of total users, GA4 categorises returning users as "engaged users" in the Retention report.
Session tracking is another area where UA and GA4 differ. In UA, sessions are controlled by user activity, including landing on a site, 30 minutes of inactivity, or crossing midnight. Sessions can even be reset using UTMs on internal links or embedded in static URLs. However, GA4 takes a different approach. Sessions, as traditionally defined, no longer exist in GA4. Instead, GA4 triggers a session ID with a session start event. Sessions in GA4 can last over 30 minutes and can cross over multiple days, independent of UTMs. Car dealers must be aware of this shift when analysing session data between UA and GA4, as there might be slight discrepancies in session counts.
Bounce Rates vs Engagement Rates
In UA, bounce rates are a standard metric used to measure the percentage of single-page sessions. However, in GA4, bounce rates have been replaced with engagement rates. Engagement rates provide a different perspective on user interaction and behaviour, going beyond just the single-page session concept. Car dealers should understand this shift and adapt their measurement and analysis strategies accordingly when transitioning from UA to GA4.
Pageview tracking remains a crucial metric in both UA and GA4. Generally, pageviews should align between the two platforms. However, it's important to note that GA4 has some limitations on filters compared to UA. This fact could lead to some discrepancies in pageview data, particularly when specific filtration settings are in place. Car dealers should be cautious when comparing pageview metrics across UA and GA4 reports, considering the differences in filtration capabilities.
It's important to note that these highlighted differences are just a few examples. Taking the time to familiarise yourself with the nuances of UA and GA4 will enable you to harness the full potential of these analytics platforms and make data-driven decisions that lead to enhanced customer experiences and improved business outcomes.
Remember, the world of digital marketing is constantly evolving, and staying up to date with the latest trends and technologies is vital. As you continue to explore the realm of analytics, be open to learning, adapt your strategies, and embrace the opportunities that UA and GA4 present for your car dealership.
If you have any questions or need further assistance with interpreting UA or GA4 reports, don't hesitate to contact the Autoweb Design team; we would be happy to chat.