Google Analytics: Change is Coming
Article Date: August 17, 2022
GA4’s Implications for Building Product Manufacturers
As a building materials manufacturer, you know it is critical to constantly gauge the performance of your website. Your most important digital asset helps people to form their first impressions about your company and its products. You need to be able to constantly answer important questions about your website traffic. Who is visiting? What pages generate the highest visits? Which content proves to be the most engaging? And, how does this all translate into greater brand awareness and lead generation?
How you go about tabulating these results is about to undergo a dramatic change with the introduction of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). It is the new iteration of the trusted platform that digital marketing professionals have used since 2005 to study website traffic and optimize their site content to best serve users. Google describes GA4 as “a new property designed for the future of measurement.”1
GA4 was introduced in late 2020, but its impact will become readily apparent in less than a year. That is because Google plans to “sunset” or retire Universal Analytics in the summer of 2023, essentially forcing users to adopt the new version. This has been met with some hesitation not only because the user interface has substantially changed, but because of the elimination of some commonly used metrics such as bounce rate.
The primary difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 is an increased focus on event-based measurement as opposed to session-based measurement. Some metrics are going away altogether. For instance, some classic metrics like “average session duration” aren’t as important as they once were, while new metrics like “unique user scrolls” carry significant weight. GA4 also encourages users to expand their definition of conversion. With the increased focus on events, conversion is no longer limited to a form completion. Instead, you can set your own definition of measurable events and goals throughout the website journey, such as video starts or clicks on specific calls to action.
In essence, Google has now embraced the realization marketers have had for years: It does not matter how long someone spends on your site if they aren’t engaging with your content in a meaningful way. Insights such as how far along a website visitor made it through a video or an article before clicking away can help to establish precisely the type of content that best resonates with your audience.
Another change is an increased focus on user privacy, powered by controls such as “cookieless measurement” and the elimination of IP address storage. This is directly related to Google’s decision to implement what is called cookie deprecation.
Currently, marketers of all kinds rely on cookies to measure digital engagement. These cookies hold information about your activity on the internet, whether it is recognizing you when you return to a website or tracking your movements online in general and acknowledging your preferences. Using cookies, building products marketers can more precisely identify and target certain audiences based on their online behavior. They can then deliver a tailored message to that pre-selected audience.
Cookie deprecation eliminates the use of certain kinds of critical tracking data. While Google has pushed cookie deprecation to 2024, consumers are still more aware than ever about how and when they’re sharing their data and how it is being used. GA4 seeks to fill in the blanks that will eventually be left by cookie deprecation with predictive AI, giving deeper insights on user behavior within your digital ecosystem and highlighting segments of users that may be likely to hit a milestone in your marketing and sales funnel.
The final differentiating feature of GA4 is that it allows tracking of users across devices. This makes a major difference in today’s mobile-first world. When designing web experiences, mobile is always top of mind, especially in the building products and construction industries where so many of our target audiences like contractors or architects are pulling out their phones and tablets on a job site to look for information about a product. The ability to watch traffic moving from mobile to desktop or vice versa can provide marketers with the insights to improve user experience.
So, what does all this mean for building product marketers?
First, engaging content is now even more important. You must write and design your web experience with powerful copy, eye-catching imagery and video, intuitive user experience, in-text links, and social integration to keep visitors attention and encourage exploration of your site.
In addition, mobile user experience cannot be an afterthought. It needs to become as integral a part of the design process as desktop if it isn’t already.
Work with digital experts who can help you to translate these findings from GA4 into meaningful action items in your marketing plan. With so many new metrics and capabilities at your fingertips, it can easily become overwhelming. A trusted partner like BLD Marketing that has both the digital expertise and the building products industry experience can help you hone in on what matters most to your business and prioritize your efforts appropriately.
BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.