What is Google Analytics: Importance, Benefits, and Reasons to use it
In the past, they said if you don’t have a website, you don't exist.
Today, if you aren’t leveraging web analytics, your website and overall digital marketing strategy are as good as throwing spaghetti at the wall.
Google Analytics is among the most popular and powerful tools for understanding what your visitors are doing on your website, where they come from, and most importantly, how you can convert them into paying customers.
Currently, more than half of the websites on the internet (55.49%) use Google Analytics but very few of them make the most out of it and that’s about to change!
This article is a part of the Basics of Analytics series of Tagmate App and it will cover the basics of Google Analytics, how it works, and its importance in digital marketing.
I will also cover the top 5 benefits of Google Analytics and 3 solid reasons why you should master it.
At the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how you can leverage Google Analytics to maximize your website's ROI.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a premier web analytics service by Alphabet which provides website owners with comprehensive user behavior insights and analytical tools.
Users can monitor a broad range of user activity data and generate customized reports with varying sophistication depending on their needs.
Google Analytics provides both real-time and historical data analysis for improving their website performance.
It is a part of the Google Marketing Platform and anyone with a Google account and a website/app can use it for free.
Also, there is a paid version for large enterprises which need additional capabilities to manage complex marketing operations.
In a nutshell, the simple answer to 'what is google analytics' is "a website analytics tool that helps you optimize your site for overall business utility.
It is a hardcore machine learning oriented tool that safeguards user privacy while fetching cross-platform user behavior data.
How does Google Analytics work?
Each time a visitor lands on your website, the tag collects a set of anonymous user data describing how they interact with the website/app.
You can know how many visitors landed on your website, the most viewed pages, the number of visitors that subscribed to your newsletter or made a purchase, and much more through your Google Analytics account.
It also collects information from the browser, device, OS, and traffic source to generate a comprehensive understanding of the website visitors.
It is available in the form of a SaaS tool and one needs to integrate it with the website/app via Google Tag Manager.
Importance of Google Analytics in digital marketing
Previously, traditional marketing activities relied majorly on sales as a measure of success with customer surveys being the extra mile.
Today, marketing is largely digitized and with a hyper-connected, sophisticated digital marketing ecosystem that has transformed the way businesses and people interact.
There are a huge number of platforms, channels, tools, and marketing campaigns executed, resulting in a mesh of user interactions that lead to conversions.
Hence, it is both strategically important and complicated to track and measure the conversions for any business’ digital marketing activities.
With a market share of close to 78%, Google Analytics helps website and app owners track their goals and conversions to understand what works for them and what doesn’t.
Google Analytics (GA) enables you to understand how your digital marketing efforts like search engine optimization, blogging, paid advertising, influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, and social media marketing perform.
GA extends incredibly refined insights for multiple goals with the ability to use different reference frames to develop a deeper understanding of user behavior on your website and the overall customer journey.
Just like brand voice and business vision-mission, website user activity, behavior, and conversion goals are unique for every website and they evolve with time.
GA helps unleash opportunities and helps troubleshoot any issues at each phase and generates growth-focused insights.
5 Benefits of using Google Analytics
Let us go through the advantages of using Google Analytics for your website:
#1 Google Analytics is free (Including BigQuery integration)
Despite being one of the most powerful web analytics tools, Google Analytics is completely free to use for businesses except large enterprises which have specific, high-level requirements.
Also, GA4 comes with BigQuery integration which is also free. You will be provided with 10 GB of storage space and an upper limit of 1 TB of query data processing on a monthly basis.
This is one of the encouraging developments since BigQuery was earlier available only for Analytics 360 customers
BigQuery helps Google Property owners to leverage raw data collected from their websites and applications.
Moreover, BigQuery helps you integrate GA4 data with third-party APIs, and data visualization tools, and even build custom channel grouping.
#2 Google Analytics Account (GA4) is simple to set up and it enables codeless tracking for ease of use
One of the striking differences between UA and GA4 comes in the form of codeless tracking which aims at making the analytics platform more user-friendly.
GA4 comes with a brand new feature called “Enhanced Measurement” which allows you to leverage “codeless tracking” for events like:
- Page views
- Outbound clicks
- Site search (was also available in Universal Analytics)
- Video engagement and
- File downloads
You do not need to use GTM or add any custom code for tracking these events and the data shall be made available once you have opt-in for enhanced measurement.
Also, the new Google Analytics dashboard is more intuitive than its predecessor, making it more beginner-friendly.
However, it will require users to leverage tools like Google Tag Manager (GTM) to define custom events that they intend to track.
While GTM is relatively simple to use, you might need to use a tool like Tagmate for simplifying web tagging since the complexity increases exponentially for larger websites.
#3 Google Analytics data can be used directly in Google Ads
Both Google Analytics and Google Ads use the same data categorization, allowing you to use your GA data directly in Google Ad Manager to optimize your paid advertising campaigns.
GA4 data can be used to create custom audiences for increasing paid ads ROI. Users can also get deeper insights on non-Google paid channels like YouTube, social media, and emails.
To benefit from this aspect, you must enable auto-tagging of your Google Ads account and link it with Google Analytics.
You can view data like bounce rate, average session duration, pages/session, percentage of new sessions, and CTR.
Also, this GA4 data can be viewed in Google Ads reports, helping you make more informed paid advertising decisions.
#4 GA4 aims to safeguard visitor privacy
One of the biggest reasons for transitioning from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 was to address the privacy concerns in the EU and other countries.
Unlike its predecessors, GA4 neither logs nor stores the IP address of your device, thereby eliminating one of the biggest user concerns.
Also, GA4 is designed to function without third-party cookies, another step towards safeguarding privacy.
GA4 uses a two-layer framework where the website collects certain data from the visitor to generate a unique ID.
It shares the Unique ID with Google which in turn generates a User ID corresponding to the respective unique ID that it tracks across devices and websites/apps falling under the GA4 property.
Once the sunsetting of UA comes to an end, all website owners will need to make active efforts to identify visitors through user registration through gated resources or walled content.
However, it must be noted that many pro-privacy NGOs and technocrats have raised equally serious privacy concerns in GA4.
In GA4, Google has reportedly limited its liability for user tracking by outsourcing some of the crucial tracking activities to the customers.
Website owners may use bundled consent i.e. compel the visitors to agree to be tracked while registering on the site.
Also, website owners may collect login credentials for tracking purposes without disclosing to the visitors or they may use probabilistic tracking algorithms which use IP address, device location, and other data to track user devices.
All of these either result in GDPR violations or at least, exhibit contradictions to the aim of GDPR policies.
#5 With event-based model in action, GA4 offers higher flexibility
UA mapped all data with respect to sessions which caused many troubles when it came to reporting.
Today, customer journeys and user behavior are far more complicated: a person may access a business’ website from multiple browser-device-OS permutations and combinations throughout various phases of their journey pointing towards the need for a more flexible tracking model.
The event-based model of GA4 will transform the session logic, data structure, and reporting at large.
Now onwards, all users interactions will be processed as autonomous events and reflected in default/customized Google Analytics dashboards based on the below categories:
- Automatically Collected Events
- Google Recommended Events
- Enhanced Measurement Events
- Custom Events
Thus, the event-agnostic tracking model will enable users to make more logical conclusions while benefiting from multi-touch attribution and user deduplication.
3 Reasons why you should use Google Analytics for your business ASAP
In this section, I will walk you through the top three reasons why you should use Google Analytics for your business website:
#1 Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics
On October 27, 2022, Google announced that it will discontinue the Universal Analytics platform and all UA properties will stop processing hits on July 1, 2023.
Users would be able to access the UA data for up to six months after Google ends the service.
Also, Google postponed the sunsetting of Universal Analytics 360 to July 1, 2024, from October 1, 2023, in a bid to help enterprise users make the transition smoothly.
Thus, website owners need to transition to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible as UA data might turn obsolete in near future.
Adopting GA4 while UA is supported will put users in a better position to understand the differences between the two using their live data.
Moreover, it will help you understand how you can leverage GA4 and navigate your way effectively.
Once Google pulls the plugs on UA, users will be mandated to transition to GA4 which can be exhausting and demanding.
This is an issue for the majority of website owners but Tagmate can help you migrate from UA to GA4 quickly and accurately.
#2 Google Analytics helps you make data-driven decisions for your website
Since GA generates extensive user data right from their journey to interaction details with respect to conversion, marketers can leverage these insights to make informed decisions.
For instance, if a web page on your website comparing your product/services with a competitor results in a heavy leak in your sales funnel.
Instead, you may convert it into a landing page (which is also a more logical option since access landing pages can be controlled.)
Or, if one of your long-form blogs is attracting massive traffic, you can convert it into a gated resource like an ebook to generate qualified leads.
Thus, GA enables you to make data-led sensible choices that boost your conversions while making the user interactions more meaningful for both parties.
#3 GA4 helps you unify customer journeys across multiple websites and apps
The previous iterations lacked the ability to track multiple websites/apps in a unified manner and it required extensive work to work around cookies for tracking multiple entities.
A large number of businesses have Android and iOS mobile apps on top of their websites while a few also have multiple websites.
GA4’s architecture allows users to unify data streams for cross-platform tracking to better understand user journeys across different devices through event-based modeling (which was discussed above.)
Concerns around Google Analytics 4
One of the surprising facts about GA4 is that it currently provides significantly fewer insights for eCommerce websites than Universal Analytics.
Similar to blocking google analytics cookies, many website owners have opted out of FLoC and similar situations may arise for newer fixes.
Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) was believed to be invasive of privacy as the creation of too many niche cohorts would make it possible to identify users on an individual level.
While it can be debated that the aversion to such Google initiatives is purely out of goodwill or due to tightening privacy regulations, most businesses are avoiding the gray area.
Attribution modeling and rollup reporting are other aspects (which are related to GA360) that are ongoing continuous development, meaning that the support might not be adequate for many users.
Also, the sunsetting of FLoC and the advent of Topic API reflect the turbulence in Google’s overall outlook in the future of third-party cookie-less internet.
Google Analytics is a very important tool for website owners, as it provides valuable insights into how users are interacting with their digital assets and marketing campaigns.
This information can be used to improve the user experience, increase website traffic, and ultimately drive more sales and revenue. Google Analytics is free to use and is a crucial part of any successful online business.
Implementing GA4 can be taxing and confusing so why not make the smart move and try Tagmate for free?
Q1) What are the benefits of Google Analytics?
A part of the GMP, Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool that enables you to track and analyze traffic on your website or android/iOS mobile apps.
With Google Analytics, you can access valuable insights like how users interact with your website(s) and app(s) i.e. the pages they visit.
These rich insights can be utilized to improvise user experience, website ROI, and boost web presence.
Some of the GA features are:
- It generates easily understandable insights about how visitors interact with different elements of the website, how they navigate through the pages, and the actions they take.
- Google Analytics reports enable marketers to track the performance of campaigns and attribute conversions.
- It works seamlessly with other Google products like AdWords for delivering a better ecosystem experience.
- GA is relatively simple to set up and can be used by non-technical users too.
Q2) What is the overall purpose of Google Analytics?
Its overall purpose is to help website owners get a proper understanding of how visitors and the factors impact website performance.
It helps the website owners to:
- User experience
- Effectiveness of website UI, elements
- Effectiveness of marketing campaigns
- Identifying areas of improvement
- Make data-driven decisions for improving online presence
Q3) What Google Analytics are most important?
While there are plenty of metrics and reports available in Google Analytics, the most important metrics/reports vary from company to company. In fact, they keep changing as the company’s positioning and priorities evolve.
Regardless, here’s a list of important metrics and reports commonly used by all firms:
- Traffic acquisition report
- Behavior reports
- Conversion reports
- Multichannel funnel reports
- Ecommerce Purchases reports
Again, the specific metrics and reports that are most important will vary depending on the goals and needs of each website.
It is important for website owners to regularly review the available metrics and reports in Google Analytics and determine which ones are most relevant to their business.
Q4) Is Google Analytics important to learn?
Yes. Learning how to use Google Analytics comes with a huge number of benefits for website owners and marketing professionals.
It is a valuable tool offered by Google for free and it allows you to make the most of your website through multifaceted insights.
Similarly, marketing professionals can get an edge in the talent market by learning Google Analytics
Additionally, learning how to use Google Analytics can be a valuable skill in the job market, as many businesses and organizations rely on it to track and optimize their website performance.
Q5) Is Google Analytics free?
Yes, Google Analytics is a free web analytics service for website and app owners looking for a powerful marketing analytics tool that generates valuable insights.
However, there is a paid version called Google Analytics 360 but it is only for larger enterprises who aspire for features like service level agreements, BigQuery integration, custom metrics and variables for tracking, higher data limits and a dedicated support team.
Q6) What are the 4 scopes of Google Analytics?
Google Analytics has four different scopes when it comes to tracking and measuring data on a website/app:
- User Scope: It keeps a track of each website user i.e. the number of times they visit a website, the pages they navigate to, the time spent, and other user-centric events.
- Session Scope: Under this scope, Google Analytics keeps a track of every session on the website i.e. the number of times a page is visited by users, and the interactions made during the session.
- Hit Scope: Google Analytics keeps a track of the activities done by the site visitors like clicking on a particular button or submitting their information through a form.
- Product Scope: Under this eCommerce-specific scope, Google will track data regarding each product like the number of times it is viewed or added to the user’s cart.
Q7) What goals can I use in Google Analytics?
Google Analytics provides its users with decent flexibility to choose various goals for tracking purposes and analyze how well their website is performing with respect to the goals.
While you can set up a variety of goals, here are some common goals tracked by almost every website owner:
- Completed purchases
- Contact form submissions
- Newsletter sign-ups
- Downloading a PDF
- Clicking a button
Again, these are just a few of the examples among many goals that you can track on Google Analytics to measure your success and make informed decisions.
Q8) What are 3 examples of data Google Analytics can collect?
Google Analytics helps you collect and analyze a variety of data belonging to your visitors including:
Google Analytics reports display a wide range of data about the behavior of website visitors, including:
- Demographic data
- Website traffic sources
- User behavior
Q9) Why are Google Analytics reports too few?
GA4 has fewer reports available because Google prefers that you use Google Data Studio for reporting purposes.