Google Analytics 360 is attractive. Aside from several enterprise-level solutions that the platform provides, it is also a considerable improvement over the free version of GA. But still, unless you have big data problems, the price tag isn’t worth it – and most small-to-medium size organizations won’t find the perks of GA 360 all that useful.
Most users aren’t even maximizing the free version of Google Analytics. How do you know if that’s you? Ask yourself:
- Is my account using best practice filters?
- Am I leveraging content groupings or custom channel definitions?
- Do I have other Google tools integrated with my account, like Google Ads or Google Search Console?
- Am I using features like demographic reporting or Google Signals for cross-device reporting?
You should also consider data quantity. Unless you have a massive number of sessions or users, your hit count is probably well under the limit imposed by the free version of Google Analytics.
Before upgrading, let’s consider three enhancements that may help you leverage the free version of Google Analytics before you upgrade to 360.
Enhancement #1: Install Google Analytics 4 concurrently with Universal Analytics
Google Analytics 4 is a new property type offered when you set up a new account. Currently, Google recommends installing it and running it side-by-side with your existing universal analytics setup. One of the most vital features of GA4 is the analysis hub, which gives access to better tools for custom reports, exploration, funnels, and more.
One of Google Analytics 360s most remarkable features is the advanced analytics options such as segmentation overlap, custom funneling, and more. The advanced analytics section of GA 360 is remarkably similar to the analytics hub in GA4.
GA4 also gives access to new features, new metrics, and predictive analytics, improving your current website reporting. While these aren’t as strong as the custom tables and unsampled custom reports generated through 360, they can help bridge the gap without requiring you to pay for GA 360.
Enhancement #2: Adjust your default channel group definitions and leverage UTM parameters
Google Analytics 360 has many features that help integrate your data, both with Google Products and other popular third-party tools. While this seamless integration is excellent, there are different ways to streamline your data inside the free version of Google Analytics.
One way is to set the channel definitions carefully. The default parameters work well initially, but if you send website traffic from multiple sources, it can get messy, and you will quickly find your attribution isn’t accurate. For example, advertising on social media can be misleading, as it’s often tagged as social or other. Setting up a Paid Social is sometimes necessary, especially if you look at the Multi-Channel Funnel report.
UTM parameters play a strong hand in helping attribute traffic to your site. Ensuring UTM parameters are leveraged in inbound marketing such as advertising, email, or other traffic types can improve the campaign reporting component of the free version of Google Analytics. Setting up platforms like Google Ads correctly also helps pull more data into GA.
While GA 360 does offer data-driven attribution, the attribution report can help you understand how different channel attribution models will impact your data. It will also list detailed metrics, such as assisted conversions, to help paint a full picture of how channels impact your website.
Enhancement #3: Clean up your custom event tracking
If you have been investing in custom event tracking on your site, you know that as the years go on and the website changes, those events can become overwhelming. Whether you’ve hard-coded them or implemented them through Google Tag Manager, the number of tracked events can become a problem, especially if there is redundant data. Sometimes, you track things you won’t even use in reporting and will never use.
The problem with tracking unnecessary events is that it can increase the analytics property’s hit count. While GA 360 has no hit limit, the free version of GA does. An account can quickly approach the monthly allowance if many events are firing, especially if this data is redundant or unnecessary.
Before switching to GA 360 to collect more data, consider auditing the current account’s custom event tracking set up. Remove anything that isn’t necessary, fix anything that may be firing multiple times, and clean everything up. This can dramatically reduce the hit count so that reports remain unsampled, and no hits are excluded because the account is over quota.
When Is It Time to Switch to GA 360?
Read more about the limits of the free version of Google Analytics. Look to optimize and enhance the free version before upgrading to Google Analytics 360, and be sure to take advantage of some of the new features of Google Analytics 4.
If you are looking for help enhancing your current Google Analytics account or would like assistance auditing your current custom event tracking set up, be sure to reach out to the team at Third and Grove below.
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