Is your car dealership prepared for the transition to Google Analytics 4?

  Rachel Oranim

Not to be dramatic or anything, but the end is near. The end of Google Analytics that is. 

In case you missed it, Google’s Universal Analytics (GUA) in its current format is set to be sunsetted – or, in simple terms – completely and entirely shut down. 

Like most dealers, you’ve likely used Universal Analytics since it came on the scene in 2005 to help track your dealership’s website performance and understand shopper behavior. While it has transformed and shifted through several iterations over the years, as of July 1, 2023, Google’s Universal Analytics will stop tracking new website activity to make room for Google’s new system, Google Analytics 4 (GA4). 

Now is the time to prepare so that, once GA4 goes live your dealership is ready to go and won’t miss out on a single piece of critical, business building data. Let’s take a quick look at GA4, how it differs from GAU, what it can offer your dealership and how your dealership can already begin preparing to make the switch. 

What’s the difference between Google Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4?

You may be thinking to yourself, if it’s not broken, then why fix it? In truth, Google Universal Analytics is an excellent tool with many strong features – but GA4 is set to be even better, bringing with it an updated feature set that can help your dealership improve your marketing efforts. 

GA4 will provide: 

    • Advanced Event Tracking – Event tracking can help your dealership better understand how shoppers are engaging with your website. GA4 offers several valuable events you can track including pageviews, clicks on buttons and links, and form submissions. You can also set up custom events which allow you to track specific behaviors that are for your dealership.
  • Improved Reporting and Analysis Tools –  Reporting tools can help you make informed decisions on ways to improve your dealership’s marketing. GA4’s reporting system allows you to create custom reports to track specific metrics and dimensions relevant to your dealership.
  • Cross-Device and Cross-Platform Tracking – GA4 provides the ability to track users across multiple devices and platforms so you can get a clearer, fuller picture of your shoppers, their shopper behaviors, and how they engage with your website.
  • Better Google Marketing Tool Integrations – GA4 will provide enhanced integrations with Google marketing softwares such as Google Tags Manager and Google Ads, allowing you to share data and information across multiple platforms and to easily manage and optimize your online advertising campaigns.
  • Machine Learning Capabilities – GA4 includes some powerful machine learning features such as automated insights and predictive analysis which can help you improve the effectiveness of your dealership’s marketing with data driven decisions. 

How does GA4 benefit my car dealership’s website?


The benefits of GA4 are many. Overall, GA4 is designed to be a more comprehensive and flexible tool for tracking and analyzing user behavior on your website, providing you with more insight and data about your shoppers than ever before. 

  • Determine which pages on your website are more popular and why so you can improve the performance of other pages. You may find a certain page layout or feature is encouraging viewers to scroll further, or stay on the page for longer. Identifying these 22f5specifics and making changes accordingly can help you improve your overall website performance. 
     
  • Pinpoint specific ways to improve your shopper experience. If you find shoppers are spending a lot of time on your website but are not converting or clicking on anything, you may need to make your website more user friendly or engaging.

  • Identify trends and patterns in the website data you are collecting. For example, you may notice that you have higher website traffic on the last Monday of every month and use that to create a specific deal on that day to encourage conversions. 

In short, GA4 is here to provide you with a wide range of powerful features that can help you dissect your data to better understand your dealership’s shoppers. With the right data in your hands, you can make smarter business decisions that can help drive sales and improve your bottom line. 

What steps do dealerships need to take to migrate to GA4?

Migrating to GA4 takes just a few short steps:

  1. Sign in to your Google Analytics account and go to the Admin section.
  2. In the Property column, click on the property that you want to upgrade to GA4.
  3. In the Property settings section, click on the Upgrade to GA4 link.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the upgrade process.

When the upgrade is complete, you will need to send the GA4 tracking code to your website provider. Once that has been implemented, you will be able to access the new GA4 features and begin gathering the data you need to better understand your dealership’s shoppers. 

New GA4 definitions car dealerships need to know

Engaged Sessions 

Engaged sessions refer to visits to your website where a shopper has actively interacted with your website by clicking a link, filling out a form, or scrolling through a page. This metric is important because it shows you if shoppers are taking action on your website or not and make improvements to your site accordingly. 

Events

While Universal Analytics has events too, GA4 Events are a lot more inclusive and specific, tracking any and every engagement with your website including page views, scrolls, and clicks. You can also opt to track additional events through the Custom Events option.

Attribution

Attribution refers to assigning credit a specific touchpoint credit for a conversion on your website. This can help you understand the journey a customer took before converting so you can determine what is working in your marketing efforts. 

Traffic Acquisition Report 

The GA4 Traffic Acquisition Report provides information about the sources of traffic to your website including organic search, paid search, social media, and referral traffic. The report will also include important data regarding the quality of the traffic determined by the number and quality of conversions coming in from those sources. 

User Acquisition Report 

The GA4 User Acquisition Report provides data on how you attracted new users to your site and includes data regarding the quality of the new users.  

Google Analytics 4 and AutoLeadStar

AutoLeadStar is dedicated to helping dealers harness the latest and greatest in marketing technologies. To support these efforts, AutoLeadStar is a founding member of the Automotive Standards Council, a group of leading website providers and vendors led by Brian Pasch, working to outline best practices and shared learnings we can use across the industry to standardize measurement between vendors and best communicate performance to and within dealerships. 

This effort includes outlining how best to migrate to GA4. We expect this process to be finalized toward the end of Q4 and AutoLeadStar intends to lead the way in adapting their recommendations.  

Once GA4 has been adapted, we will continue to support GUA to allow dealerships to make a smooth transition until the GUA is officially sunsetted by Google. Stay tuned for more updates toward the year’s end. 

Update: January 12, 2023

AutoLeadStar’s CDXP now supports and is sending events to GA4 in the agreed upon formats using the Automotive Standards Council protocols and conventions. It is recommended that all industry vendors and dealerships leverage these shared standards and conventions when switching to or setting up GA4.