Google Analytics

Shopify + GA4: How to Set Up eCommerce Tracking

Making the Most of the Latest Google Analytics Release + Taking Advantage of eCommerce Tracking to Improve Your Shopify Business

Main Image Courtesy of Flux Digital Labs.

Google Analytics is a web analytics platform that many companies are familiar with to help monitor their customer base. The platform lets you monitor the traffic of your app and website, along with getting more precise information about customers through its various reporting tools. GA4 is the latest Google Analytics that has been released, and it's certainly been creating all the buzz. In July 2023, it replaced the older version known as Universal Analytics

So why is there so much hype surrounding this new release? Well, the last time there was a major GA update was over ten years ago in 2012. One of the biggest differences between the new version of Google Analytics and the older version of Universal Analytics is how it handles "events," which are tied to the user directly. Instead of simply tracking web sessions in the UA version, the "events" are now associated with the users themselves. In UA, events were defined as interactions that didn't necessarily trigger a page to reload.

The previous version of Google Analytics had various scope levels for analyzing data. However, they didn't work well with the current environment due to the shift to event-driven data. In GA4, events are now a more general concept and can represent various types of interactions.

This feature is very important as it will allow you to track all of your app and website interactions into one place. It will also help you comply with various new privacy legislation, such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Public Code of Accountability

GA4 + eCommerce Tracking 

When it comes to all things eCommerce Tracking, you will see a pretty big difference between UA and GA4. Because of the new event-based model used in GA4, there are a variety of events specific to eCommerce that can be tracked online. 

In order to run a successful business, it’s important to truly understand how your customers are shopping. Which products are doing well, and not so well? How many products are being purchased? How many products are being viewed? These are some of the important questions that can be answered by GA4’s services. 

GA4 can also help you monitor and analyze your online business by using machine learning to analyze and improve the efficiency of your operations. One of its features is predictive metrics, which can help you predict what consumers might buy.

Distinguishing Events in UA Versus GA4

Even though they function very differently, some of the events in UA and GA4 pretty much sound the same. For example, in Universal Analytics, the impression refers to the part of a product that a user can see. This could be on a product overview page or a related page in the app or website. However, GA4 will actually define what impression this was by using various events.

One of the most critical features of an eCommerce website is the ability to track the steps taken during a transaction. With the introduction of GA4, this feature has been streamlined.

With the enhanced eCommerce features from UA, you could create a list of all the steps that will be taken in your checkout process. This feature made it easier to understand how to report on your sales.

Although the goal of the checkout process was to track the customer's journey, it was not intended to track the entire purchase process. Instead, it was designed to help identify the various steps that were taken during the transaction. Some of these included adding billing details, choosing a payment method, and adding shipping details.

The checkout process may not be featured in GA4, but it can still be used to create a variety of funnel reports. This feature can be done through the use of a tool known as funnel explorations, which allows us to create custom reports that are designed to be used within the framework. Instead of "hacking" the checkout steps feature, we can use the tool to create a custom one.

Adjusting to GA4 for Shopfify Users 

Shopify reports in GA4
Example of what Shopify reports look like in GA4. Image Courtesy of Littledata Help Center

Using the online platform known as Shopfiy is a great way to start a business, and continue to grow and manage it effectively. Shopify allows people to build their own unique online store and sell across a variety of different channels, including social media and on the web. 

When managing an online business on a platform, analytics really come in handy when trying to get more insight into your customers. Google Analytics 4 has a flexible data model that will enable you to view and analyze all of your users' journeys across multiple apps and websites. 

It uses machine learning to bridge the gap between your data and your business's goals, and this solution helps you get better insight and improve your performance. Unlike other tools, Google Analytics 4 doesn't rely on cookies to collect data. It can also keep up with changes in the ecosystem and provide you with personalized insights.

If you haven’t already done so, you can easily migrate from your UA tag to your new GA4 tag in just a couple steps. 

Step 1: Create the GA4 Property

You must have the account editor role for Google Analytics to create a property for the platform. Creating a property for GA4 will also help you migrate to the latest version of the software, and after you've created the property you can then create a web data stream. 

Step 2: Add in GA4 Tags to Your Shopify Store

If you don't have YouTube and Google channels installed, then you'll need to install them before you can start using your GA4 tags. You can also avoid the Merchant Center by connecting to it directly.

To manage your Google Analytics pixel, go to the online store's Preferences and click on the Manage pixel option. You'll then be able to select the tag ID that you want to use for the GA4 property.

After you've added the Google Analytics 4 tags to your store, you'll need to migrate the groups to the new property. If you're using Universal Analytics to track the Google Ad conversions on your Shopify store, then you'll need to change the settings to allow you to migrate those conversions to GA4.

Step 3: Migrating Audiences and Conversion Tracking 

If you're using Universal Analytics' audiences, then you'll need to migrate them to the Google Analytics 4 property. This will allow you to identify the exact users who are using the same platform and address their specific use cases.

Universal Analytics will let you track Google AdWords conversions on Shopify's site, but you'll need to migrate this to Google Analytics 4. Instead of using an ecommerce report, Google Analytics 4 will let you measure and track conversions. 

Tracking GA4 Events in Shopify

When you install and activate Google Analytics 4 on your Shopify shop, it will automatically track certain events. You can also configure it to add more events.

You can measure the various actions that happen in your store through events. For instance, you can use events to determine when a customer adds a product to their cart or completes a purchase.

Events tracked by Shopify
List of events automatically tracked by Shopify. Image Courtesy of Shopify

To track other events in your store using Google Analytics, you can use the Gtag.js API. You can also add scripts to the checkout page of your store to monitor post-purchase activities.

GA4 Benefits to Keep in Mind as a Shopify User

To get a clearer picture on the exact benefits that GA4 can provide your business, check out how the platform can truly build your business for years to come. Smarter insights and analytics overall can truly transform the way customers shop and interact with your business. 

Catering Messages to Audiences’ Specific Desires 

One ability UA had was to create simple audiences in Google Ads for media personalization and segmentation overall. However, this feature's logic is very simplistic, which limits the ability to create more unique and personalized ads.

With the help of GA4, marketers can now investigate further into the details of their customers' buying journey. They can also create event-based audiences, which allow them to segment audiences based on the specific elements of a page that the users have interacted with. This feature was not available in the previous version of UA.

Marketers can also segment their audiences based on the varying amount of time that users spend on a website. This feature allows them to target different groups of people based on their shopping habits. For instance, if a user browses products more frequently than their counterparts who make decisions immediately, you can use this feature to create a personalized message for them.

BigQuery Tool

Google Analytics' BigQuery is a tool that lets users perform very detailed and fast analysis of their data. It utilizes the company's network of servers to quickly query the raw data. Previously, this tool only worked with the paid version of the analytics software.

Through the GA4 platform, data analysts can now query their Google Analytics data without having to export it to the Google ecosystem.

Through the integration of BigQuery, data analysts can now perform more efficient and rapid analysis of their Google Analytics data. This will allow them to provide more insightful answers to their questions and make better decisions.

Enhanced Tagging Features

The latest version of GA4 has many exciting changes, including the removal of sampling and enhanced tagging. With this, metrics such as video activity, scroll depth, and link clicks can be tracked without requiring custom tags. This eliminates the need for manual data entry and allows users to focus on improving their experience. In the past, this had to be done manually, which can take hours.

In the past, if a certain threshold was crossed in Google Analytics, the company would take a chunk out of the data and estimate the total. This method is usually not a big deal for most cases, as most people would only want to see a small number of people who actually clicked a particular link or made a purchase. However, it can sometimes get very repetitive.

Feeling Confused? Try the GA4 Demo Account 

You can easily learn about Google Analytics 4 by signing up for a demo account. This account gives you access to all the features that are new, and it allows you to practice with real-world business data. If you are just beginning, this is a great start.

Setting up your own website and learning how SEO works can help you improve your skills in data analysis and optimization. With Google Analytics, you can gain access to a variety of metrics and functions that will help you develop strategies and insights to improve your business.

GA4 demo account
Instead of using your own data, the demo account allows you to use demo data to better navigate and explore the platform. Image Courtesy of Phil Isherwood

Get Started with GA4 on Shopify Today

eCommerce tracking has evolved in so many ways throughout the years, and GA4 does a great job of covering the more complex analytics for you to get a better insight into your business. Get started today and check back here if you need more tips, or sign up for the demo account at any time to try out the ropes!  

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