By 2023, Google is rolling out its new version of Google Analytics, Google Analytics 4. Not only that, but its creation means the death of Universal Analytics that so many of us have relied on up until this point.
Universal Analytics will be completely retired on July 1st, 2023, so you have until then to make the switch; but you can do so right now if you’re already prepared to change over.
The reason for this change is primarily down to new data privacy and protection laws, as well as users being individually more aware of their online privacy. This is, of course, a step in the right direction in terms of data and consent, but it does make it harder and harder for businesses to track customer journeys, user behaviour, and the constant switching between devices.
For an industry like makeup and beauty, cross-platform data monitoring is an essential in understanding the customer journey, from social media interactions to paid ad influence and mobile vs. desktop website layouts.
GA4 is being introduced to improve this experience for both businesses and users. Companies will be able to gather data more efficiently, and users’ data will only be held for a fraction of the current length of time.
So, let’s break down some of the individual features of GA4, and what they could mean for the beauty industry.
Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics
Google Analytics 4
The main difference that you’ll find is in the way that GA4 presents its data, focusing on machine learning and data visualisation. This means predictive analytics, more graphs and charts, and a nice new streamlined way of analysing cross-platform data. All round, it’s going to make for an easier method of evaluating the effect of your online presence as a business.
For the most part, GA4 will still be able to do everything that Universal Analytics has done up until now. Rather than starting from scratch, it aims to improve upon some of these existing features, as well as implementing new ones.
An example of a built-upon feature, for example, is bounce rates. GA4 changes the way that data is read, using a set-up of events and parameters rather than the previous system of acquisition, behaviour and conversion.
This means that the new focus is on what a user does on any given site page, rather than a simple bounce rate, if a user only clicks on and off a webpage. Instead, bounce rate is being paired up with an additional engagement rate, which will consider actions like viewing a page for longer than ten seconds.
By doing so, GA4 focuses on the events that took place during a visit rather than the visit itself, and will therefore be able to provide a more in depth analysis of user behaviour.
Perhaps the most widely anticipated element of GA4, however, is the new cross-device tracking and conversion modelling. By combining app and web data, new cross-platform and cross-device tracking capabilities mean that mapping customer journeys should be much easier and smoother in the future.
New predictive metrics also mean that GA4 will be able to provide information regarding purchase probability and revenue prediction, which brands in turn can use to inspire and influence campaigns that will further increase their conversion chances.
GA4 aims to provide businesses with a much more complete view of user behaviour and should support a positive spiral of clearer information and better targeting.
Why is this Relevant for the Beauty Industry?
The Impact of Social Media
Although cross-platform user tracking will benefit all industries, there’s one factor that makes this a particularly useful feature within the beauty industry: social media.
63% of people claim they have more trust in beauty brands that are on social media (Khoros), and fortunately, 96% of them already are. Not only this, but 60% of teenagers state they follow their favourite beauty brands’ socials, meaning that a dramatic portion of beauty brands’ revenue is likely to stem from their social media accounts. The reason this is so important, however, is that 91% of all social media users access these channels on mobile devices, which in turn accounts for 80% of the total time spent on social media (lyfemarketing).
This means about half of a beauty brand’s audience could be seeing their social media on mobile, which is nothing to sneeze at when 77% of consumers tend to stay loyal to brands they like for over a decade.
Google Analytics 4 benefits businesses by helping them properly track this data to find out once and for all how much of their audience is beginning its user journey on sites other than their own, and how this progresses from initially seeing a product or post to a final purchase.
A Continuously Expanding Industry
The cosmetics industry has had an annual growth rate of 4.75% since 2020, and is expected to continue to increase by about 5% each year. With ever-changing and ever-increasing brands and trends, the beauty industry is in a self-fulfilling spiral of growth.
For example, a whole new market has been unlocked during recent years and is now being expanded upon, with makeup and skincare becoming more appealing to men than ever despite its traditionally feminine history.
Approximately 84% of men aged between 18 and 44 in the US claim to use some form of facial skincare, and the pace at which male beauty and fashion has increased since 2010 has been faster than the same industries for women.
With this in mind, it’s worth noting that men and women do tend to use apps, websites, and particularly social media in different ways. For example, men tend to be savvier shoppers, with 56% of them responding to ads with coupons compared to 39% of women.
With the beauty industry expanding the way that it is into different genders and demographics, Google Analytics 4 will make it easier to understand the way in which these new audiences are discovering and interacting with your brand.
With its new predictive measures, GA4 can help predict purchase probability of a user active within the last 28 days.
The Future with GA4
So, what does GA4 mean for beauty brands? It’s clear that Google Analytics 4 will make the data collection experience much clearer both for businesses and users online, as well as providing improved analysis capabilities, access to more custom metrics, more accurate built-in roll-up reporting, and more.
The change to having everything labelled as an event or parameter within GA4 should simplify the data collection process, and the all-round experience of gathering user information will be streamlined and cleaner.
For the beauty industry, this means a more comprehensive understanding of how new audiences are interacting with individual brands and platforms, which GA4 can then provide predictions based upon.
Universal Analytics will be completely retired by July 1st 2023, so be sure to transfer to Google Analytics 4, already available now, to adjust to the new system and see what it could do for your business.