Google Analytics has been a staple of eCommerce for years. It's a versatile tool built to provide you with data you can use to better understand your customers. And as every successful business owner knows, understanding your customers is the key to growing your business.

With Shift4Shop Version 12, we upgraded our Google Analytics integration to support the newest version, Google Analytics V4. This brings powerful new features to Shift4Shop stores.


New Features Added by Google Analytics V4

Released in October 2020, Google Analytics V4 focuses on an updated approach to analytics to meet the evolving needs of business owners.

One of the biggest problems marketers face is getting enough information to form a complete view of their customers. The more data businesses have, the better the insights they can form about their customers' needs and behavior. However, privacy is also a concern, especially with Europe's GDPR and other increasing privacy protections around the world. Google Analytics V4 both provides improved insights and respects privacy. So, you can rely on better data collection abilities without worrying about new developments like possible future cookie restrictions.

Google Analytics V4 adds the following features to its already rich set of tools:

  • Automatic Alerts to Data Trends
  • Anticipation of Customer Actions
  • New and Improved Google Marketing Integrations
  • Customer-Centric Measurement
  • Adaptability for the Future

Now, let's go over each of these features. We'll describe what they mean, and explain how they can help your business. We'll also cover how to connect Google Analytics V4 with Shift4Shop so you can use these features for your online store.


Automatic Alerts to Data Trends

Machine learning refers to artificial intelligence that constantly gathers new data to improve the accuracy of its own results. It's much like the way humans learn — by noticing patterns and other information that can make it "smarter" and able to draw better conclusions from available data.

Google is known for using advanced machine learning for many purposes. This includes search engine results (which is one reason SEO is so complicated these days), but Google Analytics is where machine learning really shines. After all, the whole point of analytics is to "analyze" incoming data and give you detailed information you can use to improve your website.

Google Analytics V4 uses Google's advanced machine learning models to automatically alert you to trends in your data. For example, it can notify you of increasing demand for a specific product, which you may overlook on your own (especially if you have a large catalog).


How Automatic Alerts Will Help Your Business

It's one thing to discover on your own, through existing tools, that you're selling more of a certain product than before. But being automatically notified of these trends can be a game changer. It's like having a person watching each of your products' sales and letting you know if they start becoming more popular.

You can use this data in all kinds of ways. For example, you could add an upsell to the in-demand product, like a bundle of accessories, a warranty, or whatever else is appropriate. You could look into the reasons behind the increase in demand, and possibly identify other opportunities. You could also check your bounce rate for the product in question's product page, and if it seems high, put that item on sale or even lower the price. The reasoning behind this is that you'd see how many shoppers are stopping by but not buying the in-demand item, and offering a discount could convert many more of them.

In short, automatic alerts can help you get more sales by providing you with information you can act on to take advantage of new changes in customer behavior.


Anticipation of Customer Actions

One of the biggest benefits of AI and machine learning is that it can calculate much more data, much more quickly, than a human could. It can also balance and compare tons of different factors to draw a much more detailed conclusion than a human would be capable of (at least, in such a short period of time).

Google Analytics V4 uses predictive metrics to help you predict the actions your customers are likely to take. It calculates churn probability, which essentially tells you how likely you are to lose a customer, so you can better allocate resources to retain at-risk customers. Other predictive metrics include potential revenue, so you can identify groups of customers that are most likely to spend more on your store.


How Anticipation of Customer Actions Will Help Your Business

How many business owners have wished they could see the future? Probably all of them at one point or another. Advanced machine learning and predictive metrics are the closest we'll ever have to being able to do so.

With Google Analytics V4 providing you with these tools, you'll be able to take steps to retain customers most likely to leave. You'll also be able to analyze your customer base and figure out the reasons behind both high and low customer spending habits.

Not only will you have the data needed to know who, what, and where to target to improve your sales, you'll have a more complete picture for spending your marketing budget. This means less wasted time, effort, and money.


New and Improved Google Marketing Integrations

Google Analytics V4 enhances the way it integrates with Google's various marketing tools. For example, its improved integration with Google Ads gives you the power to create audiences that are much more targeted. You can display more relevant, interesting ads to your audiences regardless of whether they've made a purchase or not.

Another great new advantage is the ability to measure app and web interactions together. This means Google Analytics can include conversions coming from YouTube advertising, whether they originated from the YouTube app or the website. This is a feature that has been frequently requested by advertisers.


How New and Improved Google Marketing Integrations Will Help Your Business

These new integrations give you tons more information you can use to improve your marketing efficiency and see an increase in ROI. Since you'll be able to see and analyze conversions from multiple channels together (like YouTube, Google Ads, Google Search, and even non-Google channels like email, social media, and others), you'll have a better grasp of the results of your entire marketing strategy.

This means you'll be able to optimize your marketing around what works best, and what your customers want — and most importantly, what they'll really respond to. You can build and fine-tune a marketing strategy that results in more sales, a growing audience, and increased brand recognition.


Customer-Centric Measurement

Customer-centric measurement provides a more complete understanding of how your customers engage with your business by no longer dividing up your measurement by device or platform. Instead, it offers a more comprehensive view by focusing on a huge array of details about each customer. It uses multiple sources of information to create a detailed customer identity, including Google signals from ads personalization (if the customer is opted in), marketer-provided User IDs, and more.

This information results in a complete story of a customer's lifecycle, from the moment they discover your business, to their first and subsequent purchases on your store — acquisition, conversion, and retention. You'll be able to see how a customer became a customer in the first place, such as if they found your business through an in-app advertisement and then visited your website later.

Reporting has been simplified and reorganized in comparison to older versions of Google Analytics so you can find marketing insights based on different points in the customer journey. The user acquisition report tells you which channels your new customers have come from, while the engagement report explains the actions they take. The retention report covers whether these customers stayed to make another purchase later down the line. This change in reporting came about directly through feedback from businesses using Google Analytics for their crucial marketing decisions.


How Customer-Centric Measurement Will Help Your Business

There are endless benefits to having such a full understanding of your customer base, how you won them over, and how many are turning into repeat customers. Like many other features in Google Analytics V4, this will also help you form a more complete and effective marketing strategy with a much better ROI.

But one of the best things about the customer-centric view is the lifecycle data, which helps you quickly adapt to the changing needs of your customers. Sometimes you'll have to make a fast decision to win or keep a new customer, and this data will help you do so intelligently.


Adaptability for the Future

Since eCommerce is an ever-changing field, business owners need to be on the lookout for new developments that affect the way they operate. Evolving privacy concerns and regulations are the perfect example, as the introduction of Europe's GDPR created problems for businesses that weren't ready to comply with it. Even today, years after the GDPR was introduced, some websites have simply forbidden users from affected countries because they can't fix their own infrastructure to be GDPR compliant.

Google Analytics V4 is designed to be safe for privacy updates in the future, and approaches measurement with flexibility so it can work with or without cookies or other identifiers. In the future (again using AI) it will use information modeling to cover for any incomplete data. This means that even if customers have opted out of personalization (like for Google Ads) or you're unable to use cookies at some point, you'll still be able to measure and analyze your marketing results.


How Google Analytics V4's Adaptability for the Future Will Help Your Business

This level of adaptability will help "future-proof" your business's marketing strategy, so even if privacy standards become more intense, you'll still be able to rely on data and analytics that you might otherwise lose access to. You'll be able to move forward with your business without concerns that your marketing strategy will be completely destroyed. Depending on what happens in the future, there may still be an effect on other business tools you're using, but Google Analytics V4 is ready to meet those challenges so your marketing can remain strong.


Using Google Analytics V4 with Shift4Shop

With Shift4Shop Version 12, you can upgrade your integration to Google Analytics V4 to start using these new features on your online store. First, you'll need to upgrade your Google Analytics account to use V4, or create a new account instead if you choose.

You have a few choices as to how you do can do this. One option is to set up a new site on a Google Analytics V4 property, which is best if you feel ready to make the switch to V4 completely. You can also use Google Analytics V4 alongside the older Universal Analytics, whether by adding V4 to an existing site that already uses Universal Analytics, or setting both up at the same time.

Whichever method you want to use, Google provides detailed instructions for getting started with Google Analytics V4, which both experienced and new users can refer to for guidance. If you haven't started using Google Analytics yet at all, now is a great time to learn how!

Once you've upgraded your Google Analytics account, you're ready to start using Google Analytics V4 in Shift4Shop. This step is as simple as checking a box in your Shift4Shop admin dashboard. You'll see a confirmation box where you can make your final decision to upgrade from the old version of Google Universal Analytics and start using V4.

If you're not already using Google Analytics, you can set it up by following the instructions in our Knowledgebase article How do I integrate my store with Google Analytics? As a new user, you'll be set up with Google Analytics V4 automatically after you follow those steps.


Ready for the Advantages of Google Analytics V4?

Google Analytics V4 uses AI, machine learning, predictive metrics, and more advanced technology to help you visualize and understand your website's traffic and the actions of your customers. Let's recap these features and how they can help improve your marketing:

  • Automatic Alerts to Data Trends notify you when a trend occurs so you can act on information you may otherwise have overlooked.
  • Anticipation of Customer Actions shows what actions customers are most likely to take, so you can work to retain customers about to leave, and more.
  • New and Improved Google Marketing Integrations give you more power over Google Ad audiences, provide conversion data originating from apps, and more.
  • Customer-Centric Measurement uses multiple identifiers to provide a more complete overview of a customer's actions and lifecycle.
  • Adaptability for the Future means you'll continue to get well-rounded, crucial data even if privacy regulations become more restrictive.

Using Google Analytics V4 will provide your business with the smarter analytics it needs to remain competitive in a changing eCommerce world. You'll be able to adapt quickly to evolving customer expectations, as well as privacy laws or other emerging challenges. You'll also be armed with even better tools for optimizing your marketing strategy in both paid and organic channels. And overall, you'll have better controls for managing, collecting, and using your data, as well as for viewing it. This is a step into the future for marketers and business owners everywhere!