How to Prepare Your Dispensary Website for Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics (also called Universal Analytics, or UA), is the most popular tool for tracking website performance. But soon, it will be replaced.

Last year’s announcement from Google signaled that Google Analytics (GA) will be sunsetted and replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4), their next-generation measurement solution.

On July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits, meaning you won’t see any new data reports on the platform. To keep up with 2023 dispensary website optimization trends, cannabis businesses need to prepare for the switch to GA4 now.

Most data from your current analytics platform cannot be directly imported into GA4, so you’ll need to set up many entirely new processes. Again, this means it’s especially important to set up GA4 as soon as possible.

This post explains the key differences between GA and GA4, what cannabis business owners can do to prepare, and why the new platform is a game changer for marketers.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 is an entirely new iteration of Google Analytics that allows marketers to more effectively measure real-time website traffic and engagement across their website and apps.

Google Analytics 4 uses event-based data to track customers across various platforms. The tool also leverages AI and machine learning to offer more detailed insights into how users interact with your dispensary website.

To address recent concerns around data privacy, GA4 includes privacy controls such as cookieless measurement, and behavioral and conversion modeling.

This new tool from Google is set to become the most powerful, effective way to gather data and insights regarding your dispensary’s website.

Differences between Universal Analytics and GA4

Universal Analytics has been a helpful tool for marketers. It has given cannabis retailers decent capabilities when it comes to tracking their website’s users and activity.

However, GA4 comes with key enhancements and entirely new features that will unlock a new era of digital marketing insights and drive more data-oriented marketing campaigns.

Some notable differences between GA and GA4 are:

1. Event Tracking

The key difference between GA and GA4 is the ability to track website and app data in the same property. Universal Analytics merely tracks “hits”, which are interactions like clicking a link or making an online purchase. GA4, on the other hand, captures every interaction as an event.

You’re able to both automatically collect event information and create custom parameters that make sense to collect in the context of your retail environment.

2. Enhanced Flexibility

Google Analytics 4 is made for customization. Users are encouraged to create custom reports to pull the unique data they need. This will significantly reduce how many irrelevant reports users are viewing.

3. Sessions Values

Within GA4, the parameters for a session to end varies from UA. Previously, a session would end if:

  • The user is inactive for 30 minutes
  • The clock passes midnight
  • New campaign parameters are encountered

In Google Analytics 4, sessions are only ended if a user is inactive for 30 minutes.

4. Privacy

GA4 was designed with privacy in mind. Any and all data collected by GA4 is anonymized, and no personally identifiable information (PII) such as phone number, email, or name is ever collected.

Universal Analytics also has some anonymization features, but they’re not turned on by default. This means you may be collecting sensitive information without even knowing it.

Also, Google Analytics 4 doesn’t rely on cookies. It can work with or without cookies which means your cannabis website data analytics won’t be slowed down, and your customers can breathe easy knowing their data is protected.

5. Bounce Rate

While bounce rate still exists in GA4, it’s not calculated the same. Now, bounce rate refers to the proportion of sessions that were deemed unengaged. Essentially, bounce rate is now the opposite of engagement rate, which is obtained by dividing the number of engaged sessions by the total number of sessions within a specific timeframe. In UA, bounce rate was determined by the percentage of website users who viewed only one page on your site.

6. The Importance of Google Tag Manager

Unlike with traditional analytics, Google Tag Manager is no longer optional with GA4. Tag Manager allows users to add and update their own tags for conversion tracking, site metrics, remarketing, and more.

Because goals in Google Analytics 4 are event-based, it’s important to know how to use Tag Manager.

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How to prepare for Google Analytics 4

The complexity of setting up your GA4 account depends on a few factors, such as your prior GA data and what custom reports you’d like to track.

Regardless, to start your transition process you first need to determine when you created your Google Analytics property. If you created your property before October 14, 2020, you’re likely using a Universal Analytics property.

If you created your property after October 14, 2020, you’re likely using a Google Analytics 4 property already, and no action is required.

If you created your analytics data property before the cutoff date, sign up for Google Analytics 4 now.

Once you’re signed up for your account, it’s time to build out your GA4 property. There are a few steps involved in this process, including:

  • Considering your account structure – You can skip this step if you have only one website or app.
  • Creating a GA4 property and data stream – This step is very easy.
  • Collecting website and app data – This may or may not be applicable to you, depending on whether GA4 Setup Assistant can reuse your tags.
  • Setting up conversions, add users, link to Google Ads – These will all be easy.
  • And a few additional steps if applicable to your instance.

We recommend consulting Google’s step-by-step instructions on how to make the switch to Google Analytics 4.

To successfully market your dispensary, you need Google Analytics 4

While it may seem like unnecessary work to set up and utilize GA4, it’s actually a necessity for every retail operation in the cannabis industry.

Modern dispensaries operate on the same level as any competitive business. They leverage every tool available and are sure to employ an effective cannabis marketing strategy that will boost sales and drive revenue. To make your cannabis brand stand out against a rising number of cannabis companies, your marketing needs to be on point.

But your marketing strategy is only as strong as your data allows. Google Analytics 4 gives you the power to more deeply understand your audience. You’re able to see which demographics are visiting your site, at what times, on which pages, and much more.

For dispensary marketing teams (however large or small), GA4’s customizable features and reports will give you the clearest possible window into your audience.

Dispensary owners will benefit from data-led marketing strategies through increased revenue. In fact, companies that adopt data-driven marketing are six times more profitable than their competition year-over-year.

In short, Google Analytics 4 is a free tool that enhances your marketing strategy. Cannabis retailers should take advantage of this.

Need help converting to GA4?

Wherever you are in your GA4 conversion process, Clutch can assist to make your transition a breeze.

We help cannabis retailers build digital experiences that convert, this includes supporting and offloading your GA4 transition.

Contact our team to discuss your transition to Google Analytics 4.