In this episode of the Marketing Smarts Live Show, Trust Insights CEO Katie Robbert digs into how GA4 differs from the previous version of Google Analytics and stresses that marketers must take immediate action.

"I really keep pushing marketers to start this process as soon as possible," says Robbert.

"Waiting until closer to the deadline is going to make it more expensive, more of a headache; and you will risk have time periods when you're not collecting data, and that's problematic."

Unfortunately, the deadline is already only a few days away now (the episode aired on YouTube in July 2022). But... now is still better than even later!

One reason Robbert recommends setting aside some time to get educated on the switch to GA4 is that so many of the metrics are different.

Bounce rate, for example, does not exist in Google Analytics 4; it's been replaced by engagement rate. Yet, the two are not directly inverse to each other, so a whole new mindset is required to interpret the data.

But that doesn't have to be a bad thing. "Use it as an excuse, an opportunity, to take a step back with all of your marketing," Robbert recommends.

"It's a really good reason to evaluate your whole Google marketing platform ecosystem. Is it set up correctly? [And] are these the KPIs we still care about?"

(Related: See Google Analytics 4 for Marketers: A MarketingProfs Master Class with Chris Penn.)

Many marketers have been frustrated with the rollout of GA4; but, Robbert insists, the platform will allow for deeper data collection and better insights.

Check out the full video for the important details:

Make sure you don't miss any future episodes: Subscribe to the Marketing Smarts Live Show on YouTube. And to catch up on all previous episodes, check out the full playlist on YouTube.

Episode Details and Guest Information

Episode No. 7

Guest's social media profiles:

Full Transcript | Marketing Smarts Live Show Episode 7 | Why Google Analytics 4 Requires Your Immediate Attention

This rough transcript is machine-generated. It's been only minimally edited by humans.

George B. Thomas: All right. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood and it's a beautiful day to go live. Although this live conversation, we'll get into it here in a second, it might, I fully understand, it might be a Who the Flip Moved My Cheese scenario because today we're gonna talk about why Google Analytics 4 requires your immediate attention.

And this is from an interview with Katie Robbert. Okay, we did the interview--you can go over to Marketing Smarts podcast and you can listen to this interview. But you know what, let me just get into the actual show. You're gonna find out today is a little bit different.

Hello to all of my Marketing Smarts Live viewers today. I'm super excited to bring you episode lucky seven of the Marketing Smarts Live Show on the topic of why Google Analytics 4 requires your immediate attention, which by the way, if this is the first time you're hearing about it, it might have actually needed your immediate attention a couple months ago.

I'm your boy, George B. Thomas, speaker, trainer, catalyst, and host of this here show, the Marketing Smarts YouTube live show, as well as the Marketing Smarts Podcast found on your favorite podcast app. Now, today's topic: why Google Analytics 4 requires your immediate attention. And of course, tips, tricks, hacks, and all the things that will come to my brain along this fantastic journey.

Today's show is a little bit different, but I'll explain that in a couple minutes, because first we actually have to ask you, are you part of the MarketingProfs community? That's right,, like you have to get signed up for MarketingProfs community. It's free, people.

Now let me talk about how today is a little bit different as far as how this is gonna go, and let me explain why. Usually I come on the last six shows and I do these segments. We talk about, you know, in the B2B news and we talk about community spotlight and all those different things. However, this conversation around Google Analytics 4 is so important that when I heard it on a webinar, I immediately scheduled a podcast. And when it came to this episode, I knew that I wanted to just give it to you in its entirety. So this is one of the few times you're gonna not hear me really say, Hey, go find the link, all the links.

I've trimmed it down as far as getting rid of dead spaces and things like that so that you get a nice viewable experience. I've actually broken it down in a couple sections because I'm gonna come back and unpack my thoughts

This is going to be a fun ride. Let's go ahead and get into the first section that we're going to dive into about Google Analytics 4. We're gonna hear from Katie Robbert. So Katie, I'm super excited because, you know, just to give the listeners some context, some backstory a couple weeks ago, we are on a webinar together and you were talking about Google Analytics 4, it was mind blowing. So listen listeners, here's the deal. Get the notepad, get the pencil, get the pen, get the iPad, get the rock and the wall or whatever you need to scratch down on what we're about to talk about, cuz we're gonna talk about Google Analytics 4.

And the title, I mean says the immediate attention needed around Google Analytics 4 and your business. So that's what we're gonna dive into. Katie, what would you wanna say to any marketer listening to this right now that doesn't have Google Analytics 4 in place yet?

Katie Robbert: That you're already behind the Eight Ball. The reason I say that is if you have a web analytics tracking system such as Google Analytics 3, commonly known as Universal Analytics, and you haven't already started to set up Google Analytics 4, you're gonna run into challenges around things like-year-over year comparisons.

I know that that's a big comparison that a lot of companies big or small wanna make with their data. They wanna see what happened last year, what happened this year. That's not gonna be available until you have Google Analytics 4 set up with your goals set up as well and collecting data. Now in the way in which Google analytics 4 has goals consider. It's also very different from how it's set up in Google Analytics 3.

So this is a great time to be spending with your teams to be doing new business requirements, auditing what you have, making sure that the goals that you're collecting are still the goals that are relevant, and that you're collecting them the way in which you need to be reporting on them. So if you haven't started at least gathering those requirements, again, you're already behind the eight ball.

You're already behind in time, even. You technically have until July 1st, 2023 to make the switch. You should have already been collecting data in both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. I feel like this is a reboot. A restart. A relearn because it's gonna be so different from what we're used to, what we're kind of getting into.

And I wanna add in some history for the listeners of this. And I, and I think this two-part question will kind of get us there, Katie. And that is, us as marketers faced with this significant Google Analytics change, and how long, and you kind of referenced it, right? But how long do we have to actually make this change that we are faced with?

Katie Robbert: Now, in all honestly, one of the reasons why Google is rolling out Google Analytics 4, and it's so drastically different from Google Analytics 3, is because of mobile apps.

And so Google Analytics 4 Is built on the foundation of Firebase, and Firebase is the software in Google Analytics 3 that allows you to track mobile app usage. Now in Google Analytics 4, all of that is a heck of a lot more seamless, and that's one of the big reasons. The other reason is because Google has just decided to start separating out the different pieces of software in the Google marketing platform ecosystem with Google Analytics 3 Universal Analytics. You could do a lot of what you needed to do without ever really leaving Google Analytics, so you could set up your goals, you could do some lightweight reporting, you could do some attribution analysis with the built-in models.

Uh, you could email reports to people based on things that you've built in Google Analytics 4, you're being forced to use Google Analytics. And tag manager and data studio to put the complete package together. That's why it's such a big difference even just needing to use Tag Manager is in some ways a whole different skillset, especially if you're doing something like server side tagging, which is a whole episode onto itself, that probably involves your IT team and some hardcore development skills.

This is why it's significant for marketers to be getting on this now, especially if they don't wanna lose any data in terms of the time period. So if you're waiting until May of 2023 to start setting up Google Analytics 4, you may be surprised to find out it's gonna take you more than that 30 days that you, you know, have set aside or really 20 days if you take out weekends or really 10 days, if you take out your actual full-time job, a really five days, if you take out all of the other responsibilities.

And then factor in chasing people down for answers to question access to systems. All of the different things that if you start now, I feel like an infomercial. If you start now, you can alleviate a lot of those headaches. That is why I really keep pushing marketers to start this process as soon as possible.

Waiting until closer to the deadline is gonna make it more expensive, more of a headache, and you will not be having time periods where you're collecting data, and that's problematic because then you then have to answer for that to your managers and stakeholders.

George B. Thomas: Yeah and I want to dive into that a little bit deeper because as a marketer who is creating a podcast for marketers, I know other markers could literally look at the titles that I put up and go, and George is just trying to kind of bait us with this one.

But I literally put immediate attention needed because of this next question that I want to ask and give you the ability to go a little bit deeper on what we were just talking about. And that is what happened. Because by the way, sometimes in life we can be like, oh, I didn't know. I didn't know. Sure. Or we can literally be like, Eh, I'm just gonna ignore that. And it can be a no harm, no foul type.

In this one though, what happens if marketers don't know or simply ignore this change?

Katie Robbert: I feel like it's two separate questions, and so if they ignore the change, you know it's gonna be problematic and I'll get into that.

If they don't know, there are a lot of resources out there that they can start to get into. There's, you know, communities, there's Slack communities, there's documentation. So if they don't really understand why this change is such a big deal, then there's a lot of resources out there. I mean, everyone has been writing about this, talking about this, you know, giving their own opinions on this, myself included. And so there's a lot of resources that can help a market. Understand why this is a big deal.

Now, the other question of what if you simply ignore this change? Well, that's on you. That's your bad. So what happens if you, if you ignore this change goes back to those risks. And so if you're a marketer who is used to reporting to your bosses, or your clients, or your stakeholders or your board, the risk is you will not have that data and you will need to tell people as to why that data doesn't exist.

The data collection, the way that Google collects data and defines data in Universal Analytics and the way they collect and define data in Google Analytics 4, it's not apples to apples, so you have to factor in the time for that change management process as well, that education--that bringing people along for the journey. Really good example: a lot of marketers use bounce rate as a unit of measurement to determine whether or not content on their website is effective. If people are staying, if the website is sticky, bounce rate does not exist. In Google Analytics 4, Google has replaced it with a metric called engagement rate.

Engagement rate is not the inverse of bounce rate. So if in Universal Analytics you have a 10% bounce rate, that does not automatically mean that you have a 90% engagement rate. So they're not one to one. But Google has said this metric replaces [the bounce rate] metric completely. But you can't just flip them.

George B. Thomas: But you just can't flip 'em. And I love that Katie started out, boom. Are you behind the eight ball? Listen, I jotted down some notes... like have you started on this topic of Google Analytics 4, have you started or are you literally just hearing about it the first time? Or are you one of those people that we talked about in that first section about. Just kind of ignoring it because now you're literally watching this. You're hearing the words outta my mouth. You really can't ignore it. And next July, by the way, will be here. Before you know it. And I don't know about you, but when Katie started to say about 10 days equals five days, I got itchy. I think I might have started to break out in hives.

The thought of like waiting and putting that off and not collecting the data. We're gonna talk about collecting data. Kind of simultaneously here in the next section. But I will say this: Katie, in that last section mentioned mobile apps. And I'm curious, you can let us know in the chat pane, yes, mobile apps, but also privacy.

Andif privacy is something that you're thinking about at your company or you think you should be thinking about, then let me tell you. I'm excited because in the next couple weeks we're gonna be interviewing Kip Bodner from HubSpot and we're gonna talk about privacy and we're gonna talk about first, third, all the cookies.

But we're gonna be digging into privacy and what that looks like in a future world. Now we're gonna get into section two of this interview with Katie.

And by the way, to give the listeners a little bit more context, at the beginning I said, you know, we were on a webinar together. You were one of three presenters by the way; it was a Friday Forum--and listeners, if you're not like signing up for Friday forums, coming over and checking out all the like deep level information that we're providing, like you need to do.

One of the things that I noticed in the chat pane during these three webinar sessions was people were like, I hate this and this is terrible. And so I could quickly go to the question of like, what don't you like? Or what do you find challenging about Google Analytics 4? But I'm kind of a pros and cons guy.

So I have to start actually with the positive. And that is, I'm super curious. Katie, what are some things that you love about Google Analytics 4 as you've kind of gotten into it and been making this change?

Katie Robbert: I like that you can go deeper into your insights and so you can look at the user level, all of the different activities that any one individual person has done.

Now, with the caveat that Google, rightly so, is very strict about, you know, privacy and personally identifiable information. They have a lot of legal regulations built into the system that you have to make sure that you are familiar with in terms of how they're collecting data. They don't allow PII.

So you can't say, oh, this was George on my site doing things. They will not give you that level of information, so you can't then connect it to your CRM and go, yep, this is George. This is George. What you can do is dig into one individual person and start to figure out user segments. You can start to figure out what people are doing when they come to your site.

If this one person has a lot of goal completions or conversions on your website, what are the things that they were doing? What were the pages they were looking at that led them to do that. So you can look at it at the individual level. They have more sophisticated attribution models. Again, to sort of understand what are the things that are leading people to take action on your website.

Google Analytics 3 and 4 both have AI built in that will give you automated insights to say we noticed. This was happening. We noticed that the traffic to your website increased. You know, this might be something you need to pay attention to. I like that Google is trying to do me a favor as a marketer by saying, these are the anomalies that we noticed that we think you should pay attention to.

Based on the types of activities you usually take within the system. So that's one of the things that I really, really like about the system.

George B. Thomas: All right. So Google, we, we did the pros. And Google, we love you. If you're listening, we know you're listening. We have to hit the cons, right? So, so Katie, what are some of the things that you have been finding or folks that you're helping have been finding challenging about leveraging Google Analytics 4 from this kind of get-started position?

Katie Robbert: There's two big challenges that I see. Number 1 is the fact that the data in Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 is so different that you can't just merge the two systems together and say, all right, I have my 10 years' worth of Universal Analytics here and my one-year worth of Google Analytics 4 here, and I can do that year over year comparison.

The reason for that is the second thing that I really dislike about Google Analytics 4 is that the metric definitions, the scope definitions of the definitions, are so vastly different. And so what was a goal? Conversion in Universal Analytics is now known as a conversion. In Google Analytics 4, however, they are defined differently, so you can't compare the two metrics, and so your numbers are gonna be drastically different.

And so the thing that I don't like, aside from that, is the change management process, the education to help people who aren't in it every single day. You know, my clients specifically to help them understand why their numbers are so drastically different. These numbers that they are being, you know, promoted or fired on numbers that their bosses don't understand.

There's a whole new education process, basically. Google Analytics 4 is a totally new system, and I think that that when they rolled it out wasn't totally made clear.

George B. Thomas: So marketing smarts listeners, I know that you're probably like, there is a fire under my feet and I dunno how it got here.

And so I have to ask this next question because I don't want to just kinda leave you with this thing of like, crap. I want to give you an opportunity. And so, Katie, in your opinion, People are like, oof, this is a fire. I gotta put it out. We gotta get things in place. Thank you Katie and George for having this conversation.

Where should people go to learn more and get started on this Google Analytics 4 journey of change that they're gonna be on?

It's about education, so let's hear what Katie says. Now, as a prerequisite, when I did this interview, Google had not launched their actual courses for GA 4. What I would do is first, check on that; second, listen to what Katie has to say. And by the way, even though that's a second, it might be a first because she really explains the difference. Between what might be happening in the GA 4 course from Google and the course that they have put together, let's go ahead and dive into the rest of the story.

Katie Robbert: Chris [Penn], my co-founder and I have actually spent a lot of time educating our clients on Google Analytics 4 what the challenges are, what the changes are, what the definitions are, and we're actually rolling out a comprehensive course to teach people to teach marketers how to use the new Google Analytics 4 system.

And so people can go to Google has not yet started their Google Analytics Academy courses. Um, historically, if you know, they have their Google Analytics, their tag manager, their search console, et cetera, et cetera, courses, that's good. But the problem with those is that they're all standalone and it doesn't really bring all of the different systems together.

What we have worked really hard to do in our Google Analytics course is give you that holistic 360 view of the whole Google marketing platform as it relates to Google Analytics 4, and really teach you lesson by lesson what you need to know and how to set up each of those pieces in a very umbiased way.

That would be my recommendation for a really good resource as to where marketers could start.

George B. Thomas: No, I think that's a great resource. I don't know about you listeners, but me personally, I love when people connect the dots. For me, it makes my life so much easier. So to take these kind of different pieces of what's gonna have to work together to be this engine for your analytics moving forward is absolutely amazing.

So one of the things, Katie, that I like to do on pretty much every episode is some strategy, but man, I'm just a tactical driven type guy, like my brain works in tactics. When you think about that, it's like tips, tricks, hacks, like that type of thing. So what are two or three tips that you would want to give the Marketing Smarts audience about Google Analytics 4 as they're kind of learning and moving forward and having to get their hands dirty around this scenario or situation that they're in?

Katie Robbert: The number one thing is use it as an excuse, an opportunity to take a step back. All of your marketing, all of your data collection, all of your requirements, your KPIs, who has access to what, it is a really good reason to evaluate your whole Google marketing platform ecosystem, and is it set up correctly?

So use it as an opportunity to, you know, have the conversations with your teams too. Are these the KPIs we still care about? Over the past couple of years, your business, you know, has likely changed. Have we added in a lot more e-commerce and online sales? Have we stood up a whole bunch of different services and products and are we collecting the data on those different things? So use it as an opportunity to have those conversations

The other tip I would give people is as you're collecting those requirements, utilize user stories. A user story is a simple sentence of, as a user, I want to take an action so that I get a certain outcome. It's a simple sentence that helps you define everybody's perspective on why they're using the system and everybody's perspective on what they need the system to be able to do, which will help you set it up in the correct way.

Every single person should have their own individual user story. There's definitely gonna be some overlap, but consider an individual person who has to interact with the system as their own set of requirements. And what you might find is that if in Google Analytics 3 you had a long list of users who needed access to the system because of reporting or this or that or the other, you may find that that is no longer the case because they only need the information that's coming out of Google Data Studio, so you may be able to restrict access to the data collection systems themselves and give more people access to the reporting side of things.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. Listeners, you know what we just said. We hit the rewind spot, like literally, you need to rewind that. You need to get those secondary notes, jotting them down. Those were two great tips as far as using Google Analytics 4 and mindsets and things that you can do as you move forward. So one of the things I like to do too is kind of look into the future.

And so again, kind of tying back to that, there's a lot of people right now that are throwing out a lot of cons because it's kind of this brand new thing and it's this like, who moved my cheese scenario almost happening around Google Analytics. What I want you to do is put kind of your goggles on it, and if you were to future think for a second, like what do you think Google Analytics looks like in the future?

Katie Robbert: I think that Google analytics, the way in which Google is rolling it out, although it's frustrating for myself, you know, average marketers who maybe aren't coders and developers, it is going to allow for deeper data collection across different platforms, systems. I mean, we were looking at, if you're familiar with Scott Brinker's, martech Tech Stack, it's now the MarTech 9,000. Because of how many systems are out there just in CRM systems alone, I think there was something like 400 different systems. People who buy those systems generally wanna know what's happening inside of them, and they generally wanna know how that connects to their website traffic. My prediction is that the way in which Google is rolling out the new Google Analytics 4, it should start to make those connections between systems a little bit more seamless. It's still gonna take some time. It might take some API development, but that is the way that I'm seeing it moving is they want to become. Sort of that central point for data collection so that everything is filtering into their systems versus Google Analytics just being a small part of those larger systems.

George B. Thomas: I love that so much. And I, I agree with you. I love the direction where it's probably gonna go. I think it's going to, um, really be interesting how other SaaS softwares integrate or tie into what ends up being built and what's being built. As we kind of close this out, because by the way, you've given us a little over 20 minutes of probably mind breaking, earth shattering fire under our feet information of like the oh crap moments.

What are some final words of wisdom that you would wanna give to the listeners after kind of hearing all of this, maybe for the first time, maybe it's the second time, but they've kind of ignored it. Like, what, what are your words of wisdom? Katie?

Katie Robbert: It doesn't have to be a daunting exercise. Uh, it's a great opportunity to get more stakeholders in your organization involved and give them a sense of ownership over this move from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.

Start with what are all the different martech pieces that we have? Do we have access to all of them? Do the people who set them up still work at this company? Do we even know what the password is? Start with an audit of here's everything we know, even if it's not fully organized. Collect everything, put it in a big pile.

And then start bringing people into the conversation of, okay, do we still need this? Do we need this? Who has access to this? What data are we collecting here? Do we even look at that data? Do we care about that information anymore? That would be my words of wisdom is make a plan, have a purpose. What are the questions that you need to have answered? And everything you do should tie back to answering that question. If it doesn't, push it aside for now. It's not a big priority. If it does answer that question, leave it in the big pile of things that you're sorting through.

George B. Thomas: Marketing smart listeners. So good, such good wisdom, such good advice, such a valuable podcast episode to help people kind of get through this.

I'll call it a trying time with their analytics. Katie, if people want to connect with you reach out, have questions, whatnot, where do you wanna send them?

Katie Robbert: I would definitely send them to our free Slack Community Analytics for Marketers. You can find that at Trust For marketers, I'm there every day.

Chris is there every day. We have almost 4,000 community members who are asking and answering each other's questions, specifically around Google Analytics, but also just analytics in general.

George B. Thomas: All right, so you have a direction that you can go and listen. When Katie said, take a step back, think about goals.

KPIs, what has changed? I don't know what else I could say to add to that. I mean, literally that whole section probably was a rewind. This podcast might actually be one of those that you want to listen to twice. And again, yes, marketing Smarts. You can go favorite podcast app. Listen to this whole interview. Use the ability to educate yourself. Use the time that you still have remaining and don't procrastinate. I'm telling you, this is not something to procrastinate.

Listen, ladies and gentlemen, if you got value outta today's show, hit that like button and better yet, share it with a friend. To keep learning more hit that subscribe or watch additional Marketing Prof videos right here on YouTube. If you're watching on LinkedIn, head over to YouTube or go tune into the original Marketing Sports podcast episode on your favorite podcast app. Don't forget to become part of the MarketingProfs community by heading over to, and as always, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human, and we'll see you on the next Marketing Smarts Live.

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image of George B. Thomas

George B. Thomas is a marketer, video Jedi, and HubSpot certified trainer with 25+ years of sales and marketing experience. George is owner and HubSpot Helper at He has a record-breaking 38 HubSpot sales, marketing, service, CRM, and CMS certifications. George harnesses his expertise in graphic design, Web development, video editing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing to partner with, teach, and develop solutions for companies looking to develop their businesses and increase their revenue.

LinkedIn: George B. Thomas

Twitter: @GeorgeBThomas