Everything to know about GA4

By the BlackDog Internet Marketing team

Leisure Marketing

Image created using generative AI

Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics (GA3) in favor of GA4

In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital analytics, the transition from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has emerged as a pivotal development, with profound implications for businesses seeking to harness data-driven insights. Understanding these changes is paramount for staying ahead in the game. UA, the predecessor to GA4, provided an extensive data repository with indefinite data retention and a familiar user interface. However, GA4 introduces a paradigm shift in analytics, prompted by a profound focus on customer privacy and offering distinct features. Notably, it retains data for a limited span of 14 months and presents a redesigned user interface. As we delve deeper into the intricacies of this transition, we’ll explore the implications for businesses, tourism marketing, attraction marketing, and the practical solutions BlackDog Advertising offers to help everyone in tourism marketing navigate this new landscape effectively.

Why embracing Google Analytics 4 is crucial for tourism marketing

For tours, attractions, and museums, the significance of data tracking extends beyond mere analytics; it directly impacts sales and revenue generation. As the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, sales are indeed won or lost online. An organization’s ability to leverage accurate and comprehensive data determines its tourism marketing success in identifying trends, capitalizing on peak seasons, and fine-tuning promotional efforts — with Google Analytics playing a major role. For instance, tourism marketing brands may gain critical insights by comparing summer visitor traffic this year to the previous year, highlighting areas for improvement and adapting attraction marketing strategies accordingly. Understanding the efficacy of specific marketing channels and campaigns through data analysis empowers these brands to make informed decisions and allocate resources wisely.

Moreover, historical data plays a pivotal role in tourism marketing, where seasonality and recurring events heavily influence customer behavior. The ability to access Google Analytics data from previous years facilitates the identification of long-term trends, allowing brands to anticipate peak periods, prepare for fluctuations, and develop targeted tourism marketing initiatives to maximize returns. It also aids in assessing the impact of external factors like natural disasters, pandemics, or economic downturns on customer traffic and revenue, enabling brands to develop contingency plans and ensure business continuity.

In light of the transition to Google Analytics 4, maintaining an accurate and reliable data archive becomes even more crucial. The shift to a 14-month data retention period requires tourism brands to adapt their data storage strategies to preserve historical information effectively.

Cost-effective ways to back up your attraction marketing data

In the travel and tourism industry, year-over-year (YOY) data holds immense significance, making the recent Google Analytics limitation on historical data more impactful for us than for other businesses. Additionally, unforeseen events like natural disasters can further complicate data analysis, making it essential to find a reliable solution to back up and access our data effectively. Ensuring a robust data backup strategy becomes crucial to maintain access to critical historical information, allowing us to make informed attraction marketing decisions while drawing meaningful comparisons even in the face of challenges. Here a few solutions BlackDog Advertising recommends to help brands maintain essential tourism marketing data:

  • Google BigQuery (paid):

Google BigQuery is an advanced data warehouse solution that enables tourism brands to store and analyze large volumes of data. By leveraging this paid service, businesses can securely back up their historical data from GA4, ensuring easy access to valuable insights for strategic decision-making.

  • Export important data into spreadsheets (free):

For tourism brands on a budget, exporting important GA4 data into spreadsheets presents a cost-effective solution. By regularly exporting and saving crucial metrics, such as weekly revenue and sessions by source/medium, businesses can create their own data backup system, allowing them to retain access to historical information without incurring additional costs.

  • Weekly revenue and sessions by source/medium:

As a recommended data backup practice, tourism brands can focus on tracking and storing key metrics, like weekly revenue and sessions, by source/medium. This approach ensures a granular level of historical data, facilitating meaningful year-over-year comparisons and aiding in identifying trends and patterns.

  • Third-party data warehouses (paid):

Opting for third-party data warehouses provides an alternative paid solution for data backup. These external services offer dedicated data storage and management, safeguarding historical information for tourism brands throughout the transition to GA4.

  • BlackDog’s data warehouse and reporting software:

At BlackDog Advertising, we have proactively developed a data warehouse and reporting software tailored to our clients’ needs. With our system in place since 2019, we ensure ongoing data backup, safeguarding vital historical data for tourism brands and empowering them with valuable insights for informed decision-making in the GA4 era.

Setting up GA4 for conversion tracking success

Ensuring the correct setup of Google Analytics 4, especially when it comes to conversion tracking, is absolutely crucial and should be done as soon as possible. While GA4 does provide a helpful checklist in the program, we at BlackDog Advertising have some additional tips up our sleeve that can take your setup to the next level and power your attraction marketing:

  • Compare your revenue: GA4’s conversion tracking can be tricky, so it’s essential not to assume it’s always accurate. For reliable data, compare the revenue numbers to your point of sale (POS) system and Universal Analytics (UA) figures if you are setting up before July 2023.
  • Check traffic comparisons with UA: If you are setting up GA4 before July 2023, make sure to compare your traffic data to what you had in Universal Analytics (UA) to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  • Addressing “Seeing (not set)” cata: If you encounter “seeing (not set)” in your data, know that you are not alone. Refer to Google’s support article to understand this issue better and find potential solutions here.
  • Verify conversion tracking with ad platforms: After setting up GA4, ensure that all your conversion tracking in Google Ads and other advertising platforms is still firing correctly to maintain accurate performance data.
  • Set data retention to 14 months: In GA4 settings, make sure you select a data retention period of 14 months. The default setting may be much less, so it’s crucial to review and adjust this setting for adequate historical data storage.
  • Customize your reports: If you don’t see your favorite report from Universal Analytics in GA4, don’t worry! Take advantage of GA4’s flexibility by setting up custom reports that cater to your specific analytics needs.

By following BlackDog Advertising’s tips, tourism brands can ensure a smooth and accurate transition to GA4, making the most out of this powerful analytics platform to drive informed decision-making and attraction marketing strategies.

Harness data-driven attraction marketing with BlackDog Advertising

The shift to Google Analytics 4 presents challenges, particularly concerning data backup and accurate setup, but BlackDog Advertising is here to support tourism brands throughout this transition. Our data warehouse and reporting software ensures ongoing data backup, empowering tourism brands with valuable insights for informed decision-making in the GA4 era. Additionally, we provide essential tips to fine-tune GA4 setup, such as comparing revenue and traffic to ensure accuracy, addressing data discrepancies, verifying conversion tracking with ad platforms, and customizing reports to cater to specific needs. With BlackDog Advertising’s expertise and support, tourism brands can confidently navigate the GA4 landscape and harness the full potential of data-driven attraction marketing to thrive in the rapidly evolving digital world.

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