Google is continually looking for ways to help webmasters improve the quality of their sites. Mainly it does this by providing state-of-the-art analytics. These tools allow site owners - such as DIY eCommerce store brands - to delve into their data and find out how they can improve their pages.
In October 2020, Google made Google Analytics 4, available to the public, the latest version of its primary analytics tool. The new property builds on the previous Universal Analytics and features a raft of improvements, including greater integration with Google Ads, the ability to measure site performance across devices and smarter predictive insights.
For DIY eCommerce stores, these changes are most welcome. Previous properties had some predictive and cross-platform capabilities. But they were clunky, and only worked well in narrow domains.
By contrast, the new App + Web approach launched last year makes intuitive sense by showing you data you actually care about. You’re now free to track your leads from practically any source and aren’t forced to make assumptions about where sales are coming from.
Here’s a rundown of the benefits you can expect:
Improved Data Controls
New legislation, such as GDPR and CCPA, mean that eCommerce stores face substantial data control challenges. Issues include gaining users’ consent to collect analytics and the need to deliver user data deletion capabilities.
Google Analytics 4 provides two major data updates versus previous versions to help with these issues:
- Improvements in the ability of eCommerce stores to delete user data and comply with deletion requests.
- Enhanced consent granularity to comply with various nuances in the new data control laws.
For instance, eCommerce companies will be able to clearly see the data they need to remove for a user (and the impact that it will have on their sample). And they will be able to customise consent forms, even if the law changes again in the future.
Machine Learning Analytics
Given the decline of cookies and increases in data control, eCommerce sites can no longer collect as much information about users. Google knows this. And that’s why it is introducing machine learning to “fill the gaps.”
Going forward, the search giant says that data will be more mixed. There will be a lot of information floating around without specific users attached to it. Machine learning, the company says, will put untagged data to use to create better predictive statistics when tagged data are lacking.
Thus, eCommerce enterprises don’t have to worry so much about the lack of cookies. Machine learning will allow stores to essentially assign a probabilistic profile to users using the existing stock of unlabelled data and gain insights that way.
Simplified Event Tracking
Perhaps the biggest change for DIY eCommerce stores in Google Analytics 4 is simplified event tracking.
On previous properties, users had to manually place code on websites to track events, creating confusion and endless calls to Google support. The new tool, however, does away with all of that by expanding codeless features to virtually any aspects of your site you might want to measure.
One good example is the ability to measure page scrolling. In Universal, you had to embed code on your site and wait until the next day to get the output. But with Google Analytics 4, there’s no coding and you get insights in real-time - great if you’ve just introduced a new product line.
Customer Lifecycle Reports
Customer lifecycle tracking was challenging on previous properties. You couldn’t always identify the same customer if they arrived on your site via different channels. And that clouded statistics.
Google Analytics 4 changes that. According to Russell Ketchum, Google Analytics’ Group Products Manager, the new web + app approach constellates around the customer lifecycle by using the customer themselves as the basic unit. It means that marketers can more effectively track the customer journey and avoid the fragmented approach of previous platforms.
For instance, Google Analytics 4 makes it easy for stores to see what’s driving customers, how engaged they are and how long customers stick around after conversion.
Deeper Google Ads Integration
Google Analytics 4 also allows for significant improvements in advertising, thanks to its deeper integration with Google Ads.
For example, suppose that a user who is a member of an audience on Google Ads finally buys from you and no longer needs a particular product. With previous analytics platforms, that user wouldn’t automatically get taken out of the audience group and would, therefore, continue to receive irrelevant remarketing.
But the new customer lifecycle-based approach makes it easier to track users through time. When a user buys a product through an app, Analytics 4 tells Google Ads to stop remarketing the same products in the ad network. Instead, companies can choose to rotate converted customers into a new audience, thereby beginning the buying cycle all over again.
The pandemic is making demand planning a real challenge. Many stores are struggling to figure out what they should stock.
In light of this, Google Analytics 4 has come along at just the right time. The new AI-powered predictive system can alert you to trends in the data, including whether demand for a specific product is surging or tanking. eCommerce stores can, therefore, adjust their orders in anticipation.
New tools also provide other insights. For instance, Analytics 4 shows you whether you might generate higher revenues by targeting another customer segment. It also provides insights that show you how you could change your ad set up to target higher-value audiences.
If we were to summarise why Google Analytics matters for DIY eCommerce stores, it would go something like this:
Google’s new platform makes it easier for retailers to track the customer journey.
Those building stores themselves, therefore, can finally get insights on where their patrons are coming from, even if they use an app, a website, or both.
What’s more, the new property also makes it easier for small-scale eCommerce stores to comply with data protection regulations because it builds many of the requisite features into the product itself.