GA4 Explained: What It Is, How It’s Different & Everything You Need to Know

Posted on Categories Analytics

Table of contents

  • Overview of Universal Analytics
  • How Universal Analytics Works
  • How a User is defined in Universal Analytics
  • Why did Google Create GA4
  • How GA4 is different from Universal AnalyticsWhat marketers can do with GA4When you should switch to GA4

    If you’re a digital marketer or operate a business online and use Google Analytics, you’ve probably seen or heard some chatter about GA4. It was officially released in October 2020, when it became the new default Analytics property type when setting up new accounts.

    As easy as Google makes it to set up, there’s not a ton of great information out there about why you should set up a GA4 property. If you’re wondering what GA4 is, what it does, and why in the world you should care – this one’s for you!

    An overview of Universal Analytics (UA)

    Before we get into the latest and greatest of GA4, let’s talk about what it’s replacing. Universal Analytics was the latest data collection technology for web-based analytics before the release of GA4 in October 2020. It runs on Google’s analytics.js framework for web properties, an SDK for mobile apps, and the Measurement Protocol for other devices.

    UA is being replaced by GA4, which is an all-encompassing analytics framework built to measure websites, apps, and other digital platforms.

    But what is GA4, why did Google make it, and why should marketers or business owners care? Before we answer that, let’s define what Universal Analytics is, how it works, where it’s lacking, and why GA4 is the analytics platform of the future.

    How Universal Analytics works

    Universal Analytics (UA) code lives on your website and waits for an interaction that causes data to be sent to GA, known as a hit. A hit can take many forms (called ‘hit types’), but the most common are:

    • page tracking hits (pageview)
    • event tracking hits (i.e. a contact form submission)
    • ecommerce tracking hits (purchases)
    • social interaction hits (i.e. Facebook likes)

    When a hit occurs, data is sent to GA. This data includes:

    • HTTP request information such as hostname, referrer, browser type, and language
    • Browser/system information such as Java and Flash support, and screen resolution
    • DoubleClick cookie data such as interests, demographics, etc…
    • Client ID (more on this later)
    • Google Analytics will also set and read first-party cookies to obtain user session data and ad campaign information associated with the page request

    For example, this is the data sent in a pageview hit:

    v=1              // Version.
    &tid=UA-XXXXX-Y  // Tracking ID / Property ID.
    &cid=555         // Anonymous Client ID.
    
    &t=pageview      // Pageview hit type.
    &dh=mydemo.com
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Content Audit Guide: Increase Ranking & Improve User Experience

Posted on Categories Analytics, Blogging, Search Engine Optimization, Vacation Rental MarketingTags , , ,


A  How To Guide on Deleting Content

What is a content audit and how can it help you increase website traffic + conversions. Let’s start with the definition: A Content Audit is a way to get rid of under performing low Read More...

The Absolute Best Digital Marketing Memes (and why they’re so funny!)

Posted on Categories Analytics, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Optimization, Vacation Rental Marketing

You can call us “techy”, or maybe even “nerdy” or “geeky”, but any way you slice it, we have digital marketing inside jokes that really only make sense to us marketers. Read More...

What’s Next for GDPR and Your Website?

Posted on Categories Analytics, Email Marketing, Industry News

On May 25th the European Union officially implemented GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation.) The web design industry has been abuzz with this news for quite some time. At ICND we’ve put in the research and developed tactics necessary to assist our customers with this transition.

There are many moving parts to GDPR, but the three main points are listed below:

Users must consent to the processing of their personal data and companies must explain how data is collected and the intention for utilizing data.

Users have the right for their personal data to be deleted/forgotten.

If a website experiences a data breach, it must be reported within 72 hours.

We know GDPR can be confusing, but for our customers primarily operating and marketing within the United States, this is what GDPR means for you:

=&0=& We have created a new privacy policy that can be adopted by our customers. This revised privacy policy was specifically developed in response to GDPR, providing website users with more in-depth information on how their personal data may be collected and used.

Readily Available Contact & Data Controller Information:=&1=&=&2=&

Opt-Choice for Email Marketing: Upon completing a contact form on your website, users should have the ability to opt-in if they wish to receive further emails from your company.

 

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How a New Website Can Help Your Traffic

Posted on Categories Analytics, Vacation Rental Marketing

Industry standards tell businesses that they should redesign their website every 2-3 years, and this is something InterCoastal Net Designs (ICND) highly recommends to our customer base. Modern design and programming tactics change so quickly, a website can easily become dated with in a few years. Not only may you be missing out on new technology by keeping the same site for 4 or more years, you might be missing out on traffic as well!

We have done a case study of a vacation rental client of ours. Sample client launched their first website with ICND in early 2010. The website was clean, modern for the time, and we even developed a mobile site where their guests could book online (which was relatively new technology in 2010). In 2013, we decided it was time for an upgrade. While a mobile site is great, a responsive website is even better. Instead of having 2 sites, you now have one which responds to the viewer’s device. It’s easier for updates, and Google also prefers it.  Computer screens are now wider than they were in 2010, so we designed the new site to be wider as well. We also assured that there was a prominent quick search box above the top fold. After all, the main goal of a vacation rental website is to get your viewers to search for a vacation rental, and ultimately book.

In the beginning of 2014, we started to see a hit in online traffic. This client had been on a steady marketing plan for years and there had been no major change in marketing strategy. We pushed to get the new website live, hoping that we would see a turn around in traffic and revenue upon launch. The new website went live in May of 2014. After 3 short months, we have seen some great increases! Now they are well above their numbers for 2013!

The image below shows their organic traffic for March 1 2014- August 13 2014 and March 1 2013- August 13 2013. The orange line shows 2013 traffic, the blue one shows 2014 traffic. You will notice that prior to the website launching, they were gaining less traffic this year than they had last. As soon as the website launched, 2014 traffic began to show as more than 2013.

 

 

 

 

Your website is the face of your company, so it is important to keep it up to date. Not only will it impress your viewers and potential customers, it will also impress the search engines, leading them to view you as the leader in your industry!

Ecommerce Tracking Shows Great Results

Posted on Categories Analytics, Search Engine Optimization

ICND is not only a website development and design firm, we also specialize in different avenues of online marketing. The below case study discusses one of ICND’s clients who increased their marketing efforts 6 months ago. It often takes more than 6 months to see drastic results, but this client chose to work with ICND on SEO, PPC, Social Media Marketing and Email Marketing. All of our efforts worked together to show fantastic results!  This is a vacation rental client, who we have set up on Ecommerce Tracking with Google Analytics. With Ecommerce tracking you can see down to the penny what properties were booked and produced revenue, and what outlet the leads came in from.

# Source Revenue % of Revenue
1 google/organic $231,439.78 40.21%
2 direct $154,584.87 26.86%
3 bing/organic $60,343.33 10.48%
4 google/cpc $57,470.53 9.98%
5 yahoo/organic $40,071.67 6.96%
6 facebook.com/referral $4,930.91 0.86%
7 blu172.mail.live.com / referral $4,624.80 0.80%
8 aol/organic $4,486.81 0.78%

If you add together Google, Bing, Yahoo and Aol, you will see $336,341.59 in revenue from ICND Organic SEO Efforts.

They have converted $57,470.53 from their Pay Per Click Campaign

They’ve converted $4,930.91 from their Facebook campaign 

They’ve converted $4,624.80 from their email marketing campagin

This is of course not counting phone calls, which is often attributed to marketing efforts as well. And many of those direct leads (source #2) could have been coming from Facebook or other marketing sources. Marketing isn’t about just about converting online, it’s about putting your name in the back of people’s minds so when they’re https://www.azns.org/neurontin-gabapentin/ ready to book, they find YOU!

Unfortunately, this client did not have ecommerce tracking on their site prior to 6 months ago, so we cannot compare this year’s online revenue to last years. However, we can tell that their traffic is up 22.33% from this same time last year (comparing 1/1/13-3/3/13 to 1/1/14-3/3/14). They’ve had over 6,000 more visitors on their site this year than last!

 

If you’re a current ICND client, talk to your account rep and make sure you are set up on Ecommerce Tracking or Goal Tracking. If you’re not an ICND client, contact us today for a free marketing analysis. This isn’t only for vacation rentals or retail sites. A “goal” can be as simple as someone filling out a contact form. If you don’t sell anything online, we still want to be able to track your leads and ecommerce and goal tracking are the perfect way to track this. Goal and Ecommerce tracking are a large part of ICND SEO efforts. It is important to not only see that you are getting traffic to your site, but also to see that the traffic is quality traffic that will convert to revenue.  Numbers don’t lie. With the right amount of time and revenue invested into your marketing plan, we can help you grow too!

One Year of SEO, Double the Traffic!

Posted on Categories Analytics, Search Engine Optimization

Ever wonder if SEO is worth while? ICND is here to show you how Search Engine Optimization can truly help your business grow! January 1 2014 marked the one year anniversary of one of our Wilmington, NC clients SEO plan with ICND. This client in particular is on a 12 hour per month plan. We compared their traffic from January 2013 to January 2014, and are very pleased with the results! Just as we expected, their traffic has drastically grown. In fact, it has near doubled what it was the prior year.  Please see below screen shot from Google Analytics showing traffic.

Our dedicated marketing team is hands on to help you and your company grow. If you’re interested in seeing similar results, contact your account rep or info@icoastalnet.com today to discuss our recommendations for you!

 

The Pragmatic Approach for Targeting Vacationer Demographics

Posted on Categories Analytics, Email Marketing, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Vacation Rental Marketing

The vacation rental industry is an 85 billion dollar industry with virtually every demographic planning a dream vacation, year after year. A majority of vacation rental managers often realize too late about vacant inventory. Focused solely on families (or vice versa) this late realization leads to last minute price slashing with mixed results. Wouldn’t it be nice each year to be ahead of the curve and guarantee a larger percentage of bookings?

Studies have shown (Framingham Heart Study) that men who regularly vacation are 32% less likely to die of heart related illnesses compared to men who do not take a regular vacation. What’s worse is that women who don’t vacation twice a year are 8 times MORE likely to suffer from a heart related illness. These studies reinforce the notion that happier, healthier people across the board, know that rest and relaxation are vital to their health.

The question is: are you capturing every demographic the correct way? 

Today’s marketing tools make it easier than ever to target specific demographics:

Facebook Targeted Ads– Facebook ads have come a long way in terms of targeting. Users of Facebook today are revealing more and more information within their own profiles that Facebook has tactfully gained access to who each user is. If one bedroom condos are a large part of your inventory still in stock, the ability to create an ad specifically toward those in relationships with less than 2 children as well as including the unmarried and married with less than 2 children, ensures that those in your target segment are the only ones who are viewing such an ad.

Facebook Post Targeting– Did you know you can cater a post to specific demographics? Much like Facebook ads, specific post targeting allows you to display certain posts to current fans that you wish to capture. Suppose there are a number of units you’d like to see booked for an upcoming weekend. Depending on your vacation rental price points, wouldn’t it make sense to target to those solely within a day’s drive? Creating a targeted post highlighting this facet has the potential to yield higher results.

Segmented
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Tracking Offline Vacation Rental Marketing with Google Analytics

Posted on Categories Analytics, Vacation Rental Marketing

As a company with lots of vacation rental clients, we’re well versed in methods that vacation rental managers use in their own marketing tactics, both online and offline. While we’re largely concerned with online visibility, we also are aware that many conversions, advertising and promotion happen offline. From phone call conversions to brand awareness and local advertising, many vacation rental managers are struggling to accurately measure all of their efforts. It’s something we see everyday.

For some industries, it’s pretty easy to measure advertising spend. With many companies only spending dollars on pay-per-click and other digital marketing efforts, they can track all their efforts in a analytics tracking suite like Google Analytics. For online-only businesses, digital ROI is pretty easy to measure.

However, we have found several tactics for vacation rental managers to keep their online and offline marketing data into Google Analytics. It’s a fairly simple tactic that involves using two primary methods: separate, short domains for advertising and landing pages.

Let me explain.

Most offline marketing campaigns are on print flyers, newspapers, billboards and many other avenues. Nearly all of these advertisements usually have your website in the bottom of the ad – and that’s impossible to track. People who visit by directing entering your website into their URL bar are counted as direct visitors, with no more information about where they came from available for you to see.

If your website does a few hundred or thousand direct visits per month, how can you tell if a new billboard or print ad caused that rise in traffic? You can’t. It all goes into Google analytics as direct website traffic and is no different than people who may have already known your brand or visited your site before. So, marketing managers, when it’s time to renew that billboard or print ad, how in the world can you tell if it worked?

Enter a vanity domain (or many vanity domains). A vanity domain is basically a shorter version (or just alternate version) of your website that you can control and measure easier when it’s only placed where you know about it. For example, if we used http://www.icnd.net as our only domain that we placed on a print ad that was sent to vacation rental managers, we’d know that anyone who used that domain came from that ad. We could then apply the secret sauce of this tactic (google analytics campaign variables) to find out in analytics exactly how many people arrived at our website from this ad.

Here’s the steps we’ll take to measure this:

  • Register a short domain (you can use an simple URL, but it has the downside of reducing the amount of people using it. For example,

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