It’s time to upgrade to GA4, and here’s why
If you haven’t upgraded to GA4 (the latest version of Google Analytics) yet, you may have seen a note the last time you logged in that “Universal Analytics will no longer process new data in standard properties beginning July 1, 2023. Prepare now by setting up and switching over to a Google Analytics 4 property.” When Google rolled out GA4 they told us this day would come, and now we have a date. You may be thinking “that’s still more than a year away, why should I bother now?” We have two practical reasons for you, and a few fun reasons to get you excited.
Reason 1. It’s going to be a big adjustment. This won’t get you excited but it’s a big reason to ease into the transition now. GA4 is not just a small update or refresh of the design, it’s a complete change in mindset, long-term we believe it’s a good shift, but short-term you might want to scream because all your favorite reports will be in a different place, and may even show different data.
Reason 2. Your historical data from your standard account will not be available in GA4. It’s a change to a whole new system, so if you rely on year over year data for analysis you need to upgrade now so you gather a full year’s worth of data before your standard account stops processing new data. The good news here is that your standard account will continue to collect data in parallel when you upgrade so if you don’t wait too long you won’t be missing any data.
Hopefully from a practical standpoint, you’re convinced and may be upgrading while you’re reading the rest of this article. This means it’s time to move on to the fun stuff. As we said at the start, this marks a complete shift in the way the data is presented. Specifically, we’re excited to see it is designed to emphasize insights, engagement, and retention.
While your standard analytics account offers built-in insights, you have to know where to find them. In GA4 you can find a quick list of insights right on the home screen. These are designed to help you dig deeper, for example, the screen capture below shows that in this account organic search appeared in 57% of conversion paths, but was only the last click in 29% of conversions. This insight shows that organic is influencing nearly 60% of all the conversions, if you knew that would it change how you think about SEO?
At Five Q we believe that engagement is a critical factor if you want to multiply the impact of your ministry. GA4 has a whole section of reports dedicated to understanding your user engagement, which makes it easier than ever to understand and improve your engagement. As a ministry, you likely are striving to engage your audience at least weekly, if not daily. In the Stickiness Report you can see exactly how often your users are engaging by comparing Daily Active Users (DAU), Weekly Active Users (WAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU). We wrote an article last year about why “WAU/MAU Matters to your Ministry”.
Like engagement, retention is a powerful driver of long-term growth. It’s also a great measure of impact, if people continue to come back and use your content it's a sign that it’s impacting their life. This section goes beyond just new vs. returning users. It allows you to see retention over time, Lifetime value, and compare engagement to retention.
These are just a few of the highlights that should get you excited to upgrade. On top of that it’s easy to do so you don’t need to worry about finding the resources to make it happen. If you’re on the fence about data in general, maybe understand the importance of it but just aren’t that interested. We’d encourage you to check out the latest episode of the Ministry at Scale Podcast to see how analytics can be a window into the ways God is moving in your ministry.
When you upgrade let us know what you like (what you don’t) about GA4. It’s always encouraging to us to hear how ministries are using data to have a greater impact.