Navigating GA4: An essential guide for attraction operators

Navigating GA4: An essential guide for attraction operators

The shift from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has left a lot of attraction operators wondering how to get the most out of the new platform – here’s everything you need to know.

It’s been just over a year since Google started phasing out UA services as part of its plan to discontinue the legacy platform. From July 1 2024, Universal Analytics will be shut down for good, all data will be deleted and users will no longer be able to access their old UA properties or APIs.

Businesses have until then to migrate any historical data to their GA4 property which hasn’t been automatically transferred over. Google has previously stated that users will likely need to complete a manual migration themselves to guarantee all past data is saved. Many attractions have been slow to act on this, which means they now risk losing the benefits of YoY comparisons to benchmark performance going forwards.
With the final switch on the horizon, it’s also an ideal time to take stock of your journey with Google Analytics 4 so far. There are more options than ever when it comes to drilling down into customer behaviour, spotting recurring trends and optimising key processes, so it will naturally take some time to master the new platform’s capabilities.

We’ve created this essential guide to walk you through the main features and functions that GA4 offers, as well as some notable departures from the old UA platform.

How can attraction operators benefit from GA4?

How can attraction operators benefit from GA4?

GA4 has been touted as the most powerful version of Google Analytics yet, one that goes far beyond a simple software update. The new platform promises to transform the way that attraction operators track, analyse and interpret user interactions through their website and online channels.

GA4 helps attractions better understand their customer lifecycle, offering greater visibility of events and interactions. Detailed data on customer demographics and how they behave online can be used to maximise website appeal, marketing impact, purchasing journeys and revenue generation. Its focus on user-centric measurements also opens up new possibilities in tracking user journeys across different devices and platforms.

All of these insights are valuable ammo for test-and-learn strategies that aim to drive continuous improvement – and GA4 can help you identify and deliver the marginal gains that stack up to make a big difference in performance.

Which data points should you be tracking?

Customer behaviour

With GA4’s user-centric approach and advanced event-tracking capabilities, operators can gain deeper insights into visitor interactions and preferences, enabling informed decision-making and tailored marketing strategies. Its attribution modelling function enables operators to see the full journey your customer went through to click a certain ad, whether they came through social or organic search, which web pages they navigate and what led them to convert.

Engagement rate

Whereas UA previously used bounce rates as a key metric, GA4 focuses more heavily on engagement rates. This is the share of website users who have engaged with a website by measuring their time spent on pages, clicks and other interactive elements. Although both metrics have their merits, engagement rate takes into account the depth and quality of interactions as opposed to simply time spent on a page before clicking off.

Conversions and revenue

By drilling down into conversions, attributing revenue to specific marketing campaigns and optimising booking pages based on performance data, attractions can maximise the effectiveness of their marketing spend and drive business growth in the right areas. GA4 also integrates well with heat mapping software, allowing users to discover exactly how users navigate their website and the instinctual user journey they take.

Customer targeting

Gaining access to data around visitor demographics, behaviours and interests is a massive benefit for attractions. By leveraging GA4’s segmentation, remarketing and personalization capabilities, operators can tailor their marketing messages and offers to specific audience segments, which increases relevance and engagement among key demographics.

New features of GA4

New features of GA4

There are a variety of changes and new features in Google Analytics 4 to be aware of, particularly for attraction operators. This includes:

  • AI and machine learning – GA4 provides predictive insights and automated forecasts based on analytics. Attractions can leverage AI-powered insights to identify trends, predict visitor behaviour and personalise marketing efforts, helping increase conversions and enhance the overall visitor experience.
  • Event-based tracking – The new platform features an event-based tracking system, rather than UA’s session-based approach. Every user interaction is treated as an event, providing more flexibility and granularity in tracking user behaviour. This is particularly useful when tracking actions such as ticket purchases, attraction visits, clicks on promotional content and interactions with virtual tours or exhibits.
  • Cross-platform tracking – Google has improved its tracking function across websites, mobile apps and third-party booking platforms, giving businesses more insight into how users engage with their brand and attractions across various touchpoints. It has the power to connect the dots between initial website interactions to on-site engagement and post-visit actions.
  • Improved data privacy – GA4 is designed with privacy in mind, offering more options for user consent management and compliance with data privacy regulations. This is especially relevant for operators dealing with sensitive visitor data, ensuring that user privacy is always respected while still gaining valuable insights into behaviour.
  • Enhanced customisation and reporting – GA4 offers customisable reporting and dashboard options, giving users a more tailored view of their analytics data. Attraction operators can build custom reports and dashboards that focus on KPIs such as ticket sales, attraction attendance, conversion rates or visitor demographics.
Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics

Google Analytics 4 vs. Universal Analytics

The most immediate change users will notice between GA4 and UA is the new dashboard interface. The GA4 home screen features a more streamlined, flexible layout, with customisable widgets for quick access to specific metrics and reports. Certain functionalities will have been relocated, replaced or deleted, which will likely prove frustrating to begin with while users get used to the new system.

GA4 also offers seamless integration with Google Looker (formerly Data Studio) for those wishing to create custom data visualisations.

Diving deeper into the differences, it’s clear that GA4 is a significant departure from traditional analytics models. Whereas UA was largely predicated on tracking page views and sessions, GA4’s holistic, event-centric approach is a game changer when it comes to understanding user behaviour. New metrics like engaged sessions, engagement rate and engagement time have been integrated to enhance customer journey tracking.
Even the search bar is more intuitive in GA4, again drawing on AI and machine learning capabilities to provide users with quick, accurate insights and guidance, saving the need to trawl through results to find what they’re searching for.

Given the widespread usage of Universal Analytics, it’s no surprise that some users have expressed their annoyance regarding the change. New dashboards always take some getting used to, which can be inconvenient when first navigating the platform’s features.

GA4 in action

Having partnered with DigiTickets on a number of GA4 migration projects for shared clients over the past 18 months, Anita Waddell, Managing Director at specialist visitor attraction marketing agency, Agility Marketing, offers a few practical insights:

“Universal Analytics from Google works differently to GA4 so comparing year on year trends between the two systems is virtually impossible. The most successful migrations we’ve seen is when the client was willing to set up GA4 early. This has meant we’ve been able to compare this years and last year’s data both on GA4 (rather than have to make assumptions using the year’s before Universal data).

“Another huge part of a successful migration was that our client’s ticketing partners had also implemented GA4 conversion tracking. DigiTickets were really quick off the mark and one of the first to market. At the end of the day, however, it’s the conversion that matters. Comparing key performance e-commerce indicators year on year is critical.”

Need a hand with your own website analytics?

At DigiTickets, we often support attraction operators looking to track and measure customer data through their website and online channels.

Our partnership with Website Vision, a specialist in website design for attractions, means that we can build optimal customer journeys that are designed with GA4 data tracking in mind. This information is highly valuable when it comes to maximising conversions and removing any barriers to online purchases.

Feel free to get in touch with our friendly team for a no-obligation chat to discuss your challenges, or simply pop in your details below to request a free demo. We’ve partnered with many attraction and events businesses just like yours, so we’ll be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to getting the most from your GA4 strategy.

Want to learn more?

Get in contact with us to discuss how we might be able to help.

Tom Westlake
Posted By

Tom Westlake

Studio Manager
13th June, 2024 - 7 Min Read


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Tom Westlake
Posted By

Tom Westlake

Studio Manager
13th June, 2024 - 7 Min Read


Keep up to date with the latest industry news & views. Sign up to our newsletter if you would like to receive our news direct to your inbox.
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