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Digital Marketing

Google Analytics 4: What you need to know

Since 2007, Google Analytics has played a key role in how we report on the performance of our website and marketing activities, with the Universal Analytics dashboard being at the centre of how we report on user acquisition, behaviour and conversions since its release in 2012. The latest version of Google Analytics was formally released in October 2020, are you ready to benefit from new AI-powered insights and updated dashboards?

A timeline of Google Analytics releases


We’re going to explore Google Analytics 4, what it means for marketers, take you through the best bits of the new version and updated dashboards.

Google announcing Google Analytics 4

“To help you get better ROI from your marketing for the long term, we’re creating a new, more intelligent Google Analytics that builds on the foundation of the App + Web property we introduced in beta last year.

It has machine learning at its core to surface helpful insights automatically and gives you a complete understanding of your customers across devices and platforms.”

Wondering how GA4 will change the way you measure marketing and website performance? 

The core reports that we’re used to have new names and a meaning that is central to the customer lifecycle. The new lifecycle reports are specifically designed to aid how we report on and drill down into user and customer journies. We are no longer limited by channel when seeing how users are acquired, the new version of Analytics can give us a full picture as to how customers interact with digital products across devices through unique user IDs that we can provide. Google has also created ‘Google Signals‘ for GA4 that will deduplicate users across devices meaning marketers can start to optimise ad spend based on cross-device usage and publishers can report more accurately on the number of users instead of devices.

Best bits! New features we love in Google Analytics 4

Customer lifecycle reporting

Drill down into the customer journey using the four core reports. see what channels are acquiring new customers, use the engagement and retention reports to understand the actions these customers take, and whether they stick around, after converting.

Codeless event tracking

Measure on-page actions like page scrolls or video plays without event code or Google Tag Manager. As Shopify backend customisation is limited, you may not be able to implement Ecommerce tracking until Shopify themselves develop it.

AI-powered insights & predictions

Machine learning can get cooler… Google Analytics 4 automatically shows us data trends and the technology can predict outcomes like potential revenue from a certain segment of customers.

Audience integration with Google Ads. 

Create and manage audience lists in GA 4 across the Web and App properties. For example: If a user qualified for an audience list due to an action taken on the Web and then the user completed a purchase within the App, GA4 will automatically update the list to remove the user so that they’re not retargeted with ads.

More granular user data controls. 

Google have developed their own model for privacy that offers separate consent opt-ins for Analytics and Ads. They’ve also given businesses more control over data deletion to comply with user requests without harming data collection.

Analytics in a cookie-less future. 

As third-party cookies are phased out, Google anticipates that data sparsity will become the new norm. It will rely on machine learning to fill in the data gaps.

Customer life cycle reports

Below is an overview of the new life cycle reports, new features and any handy tips that might help you adopt the new reports more easily.


  • The acquisition report hasn’t changed too much with the new update. Within this you will continue to see web/app users by medium, sessions by a campaign, source etc.
  • The overview dashboard has a new look and feel but you can still access the same reports by clicking through the report cards.
  • Tip! For anyone who uses the default channel grouping for reporting on traffic acquisition, this does still exist and can be accessed in the traffic acquisition report within the acquisition report.


  • The Engagement report is similar to the Behaviour report in Universal Analytics. Here you can see user engagement by events, pages, and screens.
  • Each card in the overview section breaks down into a more detailed report where you can see detailed event timelines and a breakdown of users by page.


  • Monetisation is the new e-commerce report. This dashboard shows ecommerce activity from the perspective of revenue, purchases, items, and coupons.
  • To collect monetization data, you need to collect the recommended events for retail/ecommerce.
  • Shopify Merchants won’t see any data within this report until the integration between Shopify and Google Analytics 4 is updated.


  • The new Retention report has an overview of user retention from the perspective of new and returning users, retention and engagement by cohort, and lifetime value. Cohorts are determined by users with shared attributes, for example, the channel they were acquired from. More on cohorts here.
  • Tip! Use the Analysis tab to set up Cohorts based on certain user attributes.

Acquisition Overview

Engagement Overview

Monetisation Overview

Retention Overview

Installing Google Analytics 4 for Shopify

Shopify merchants are still waiting for an updated method of implementing the new version as the UA- code has been deprecated by GA4 and while we can still reap the benefits of Google Analytics 4, Shopify merchants cannot set up enhanced e-commerce tracking just yet. Apps and workarounds have been created to allow for a full integration but as GA4 still uses many alpha/beta features, we would recommend waiting for updated implementation from Shopify themselves.

There is a set-up assistant within the admin section of Universal Analytics that will walk you through the best way to get started with Google Analytics 4 based on your current implementation. If you are a Shopify Merchant and use Google Tag Manager, adding the Google Analytics 4 tag with the all pages trigger will be the easiest way to get started.


Chris Thomas


Chris Thomas

CEO & Founder

Chris has been at the forefront of eCommerce and a pioneer of online retailing since the early 00s. A 5-time Drapers Award winner, Chris has extensive experience in developing fashion brands online.

Chris founded Cake in 2016. Based in Birmingham, with offices nationwide, Cake specialises in helping fashion brands understand their market online and then helps to develop appropriate strategical direction to achieve their plan, all backed by his 20 years of operating in the retail market.