Getting Started with Google Analytics 4 on Your Own

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Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest and most advanced version of Google’s free web analytics platform. It provides deep insights into your website traffic, marketing campaigns, conversions, and more. While you can technically set up GA4 tracking code yourself, partnering with an analytics agency brings additional expertise that helps maximize your ROI.

Steps to Implement Basic GA4 Tracking

If you’re ready to get started with GA4, follow these steps to perform the basic set-up for GA4.

Create a GA4 account: Sign into your Google account and navigate to the GA4 section. You need to have an editor or administrator role to proceed with setting up Google Analytics 4. On the Create a new Google Analytics 4 property page, create a new property and select “website” as the data stream source. You’ll need to enter your web URL and name the stream.

Install the tracking code: Once you’ve created your “website” stream source, your tracking ID snippet will appear on the next page. Add the snippet provided by Google to the head section of every page of your website. This part of your set-up enables GA4 to start collecting data.

Set up data streams: Create additional data streams for mobile apps, digital assets, and so on in GA4. Adjust data stream settings as needed for tracking exclusions, data retention and sharing by selecting the appropriate options.

Connect other data sources: Link your other analytics tools like Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, Search Console, and so on to import relevant data into GA4 for a unified view. Making these connections offers additional benefits, such as more reporting options through Search Console and more robust data for remarketing your Google Ads. 

Create conversion events: Configure custom conversion events like button clicks, form submissions, downloads, purchases and more. Events allow you to get analytics on specific actions on your website. GA4 automatically collects some events, but you should add events that are important measures for your site. Your conversion events become your goals for optimization.

Configure reports: Use built-in reports and dashboards or leverage custom reports focused on your key performance indicators and most important business goals. Look at your GA4 reports frequently to inform strategic decisions.

Add users and set permissions: Give team members access to GA4 and configure user permissions based on view, edit, and admin needs.

Limitations of Basic Self-Setup

While the steps above will enable basic GA4 tracking, there are limitations to relying on a do-it-yourself setup. Here are the many things the basic set-up lacks.

  • No implementation audit – Lacks an objective review to identify and fix misconfigurations.
  • No tag manager – Managing tags directly on sites gets complex fast as you add more tools.
  • No data validation – Easy to misinterpret data without checking for anomalies, sampling errors, etc.
  • No customization – Not tailored to your unique KPIs and reporting needs out-of-the-box.
  • Limited capabilities – Just scratching the surface of advanced GA4 features for deeper analysis.
  • No optimization – Manual self-analysis rarely yields ongoing optimization recommendations.
  • Fragmented view – First-party data only provides one piece of the puzzle without the big picture.

The Benefits of Hiring an Analytics Agency

GA4 is a powerful tool for gaining insights about your website’s performance. But it has a lot of moving parts, and you won’t get all the benefits from what GA4 offers with the basic set-up alone. Partnering with an experienced analytics agency addresses the limitations above to help fully unlock value from your GA4 implementation, including:

  • Expert implementation and tag management
  • Objective auditing and data validation
  • Strategic focus on your key business goals
  • In-depth analysis and custom reporting
  • Ongoing optimization recommendations
  • Training and skill development for your team
  • Wider view incorporating other data sources
  • More advanced toolsets and methodologies

For most businesses, the expertise of an analytics agency is well worth the investment to maximize the return you get from Google Analytics data. An agency becomes your long-term analytics partner invested in your success.

Schedule a free call with us to learn how we can help you with Google Analytics 4 to achieve your online marketing goals and take your business to the next level.

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