As Google Analytics’s 4th iteration rolled out, in-house and agency marketers alike cried out in unison about how difficult it was going to make their jobs going forward. Take the following example:
Geeze, Benji. Don’t hold back.
Some of the biggest complaints about GA4, according to Search Engine Land, include the user interface, data lag, data discrepancies, and basically that it’s hard to use. A slow tool that requires you to click through multiple segments and dropdowns to get the information you need means that precious time gets wasted. GA4 also appears to have a lag when it comes to same day data, which means you can’t gather relevant information to make better choices.
And, as Benji mentioned above, many marketers have reported discrepancies in their data, which means they lose trust in the validity of what’s right in front of them. The tool itself has been described as the “Windows Vista of Google Analytics”, which is both hilarious and a little bit sad.
It’s safe to say the feelings around the changes implemented in GA4, and how much has changed from the Universal Analytics days, means marketers need to adapt to a future world that’s cookie-less and a whole lot more private for consumers. You have to change to GA4, there’s no way around it!
Many of our customers have used GA4 and considered the migration to GA4 to be a - and I quote - “complete nightmare”.
Many Triple Whale customers find that they enjoy the simplicity of the Triple Whale dashboard to get to their key metrics, and quickly. Why spend all of your time and energy stressing when you could be getting the information you need using Triple Whale?
From the first days of Shopify, Google Analytics for Ecommerce has been the defacto analytics platform. From the early days of Google Analytics being one of the only tools for Ecommerce, Shopify integrated directly with Google Analytics by introducing the tag manager, custom code, and later native integrations to keep it a staple of every store’s tool stack.
The latest iteration of GA4 hasn’t been welcomed with open arms, and unfortunately for Google, they’re not the only game in town anymore. More and more brands are using Triple Whale to replace and supplement their Shopify GA4 Ecommerce tracking.
One of the reasons Google Analytics’s Ecommerce tracking became so widespread is because of its ease of use for understanding at a high level what’s going on with your Shopify store.
And, you know, it’s price tag (read: lack thereof).
However, one of the biggest complaints is the user interface. It’s just not as easy to see your default high-level metrics. Here’s what it looks like when brands replace it with Triple Whale’s Web Analytics.
Some of the metrics included in the above screenshot include:
What is conversion rate?: The percentage of website sessions that lead to a specific desired action.
Why it’s useful: This metric reflects how effective your site is at achieving conversions.
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: The Conversion Rate Metrics aren’t available in the standard GA4 report. You’d need to create and use an exploration report to see that.
What is “users” (as a metric, not poor grammar)?: The total number of distinct individuals who have visited your website within a defined time period.
Why it’s useful: Pretty self-explanatory, but it tells you how many different audiences you’re reaching.
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: This iteration of GA4 has a new set of user types: Total Users, New Users, Active Users, and Returning Users. "Total users" = total number of people who visited your site. "Active users" = number of people who engaged with your site. "New users" = the number of people who have never visited your site before. It’s not hard to find in GA4, but it’s more difficult to tease out which type of user a marketer might want to focus on.
What is "sessions"?: Individual user interactions on your website within a specified timeframe, including pageviews and events.
Why it’s useful: Tracking who is visiting your site can help you understand if your marketing or SEO campaigns are working.
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: A session in GA4 is a group of events recorded for a user in a given time period, which means you might end up with more sessions recorded for a given individual.
What is pages per session?: The average number of pages a user views during a single session, indicating user engagement depth.
Why is it useful?: The more pages a customer views, the more engaged they are (presumably).
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: The pages per session metric doesn’t exist in GA4, you’d have to create a custom GA4 audience.
What is session duration?: The average time users spend on your website during a session.
Why is it useful?: It shows how engaged a customer is with your website content!
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: Average session duration isn’t seen in regular reports, but you can add it in customized reporting.
What is bounce rate?: The percentage of single-page sessions where a user leaves without further interactions.
Why is it useful?: If the bounce rate is high, it indicates your content might not be relevant or matching what the potential customer expected when they visited from an ad.
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: It’s calculated differently than in UA, with Bounce Rate being the inverse (opposite) of Engagement Rate.
What is sessions with add to cart?: The number of sessions where users added items to their carts, revealing purchase intent.
Why is it useful?: It reveals the number of users who have purchase intent.
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: This metric requires an add-to-cart conversion event to be set up in GA4.
What is add to cart %?: The ratio of sessions with add to carts to total sessions, showcasing product presentation success.
Why is it useful?: This metric showcases product presentation success - if the user likes the product, they’ll add it to the cart!
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: To find this metric, you have to take the total of add-to-cart actions in a specific period and divide it by the number of product views and multiply by 100 to get the add-to-cart percentage.
What is cost per add-to-cart?: The average spent on marketing for each successful add-to-cart action.
Why is it useful?: It shows your ad campaign efficiency.
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: In GA4, you’d need to create a custom report to get this detail.
What is cost per session?: The average spent on marketing campaigns per session.
Why is it useful?: It tells you how cost-effective your methods to drive website traffic are.
Why it’s hard to ascertain in GA4: Like many metrics mentioned above, this one would require a custom report.
GA4 Landing Page reports take a different approach, and while their event-based tracking is good, it's not the Universal Analytics millions of Shopify store owners have gotten used to.
Compare that with Willy, Triple Whale’s conversational assistant where you can literally ask “What are my landing page analytics”
GA4 is powerful, but important Ecommerce analytics and revenue sources aren’t included out-of-the-box. Sure, you can set them up with Ecommerce event tracking, but it’s not out-of-the-box, and if the basic web metrics are hard enough to get to in GA4, customizations are going to be that much harder.
By using Triple Whale, you can see these detailed analytics a lot easier on your dashboard. For example:
Subscriptions: you can view detailed subscription analytics, separating first subscription purchases from recurring. We’ve even got an integration with Recharge.
Customer Service: View all of the important data from your customer service tickets with our Gorgias integration, allowing you to view tickets created/responded right on the dashboard, so you can know how your customer service response time is influencing your bottom line.
Email & SMS: Keep an eye on your email subscription, open, click, and bounce rates to see if your email content is landing with your subscribers. Check out our integration with Klaviyo.
Even if this is your third decade of internet marketing using tools like Google Analytics for Ecommerce, there’s always ways to improve, streamline, and integrate new tools to stay ahead. From your basic Shopify web analytics like pageviews and sessions, to much more advanced metrics like lifetime customer value per active subscriber, it’s worth looking at Triple Whale to better understand your store’s revenue.
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