The end of Universal Analytics is fast approaching, with the program set to be discontinued on July 31st, 2023. After this date, Google Analytics users will all be switched over to GA4 automatically, if they have not done so already themselves. This forced move will even happen to GA360 users! You may have noticed the following message appear at the top of your GA window:
Unfortunately, this transition will come with some major drawbacks for recruiters, as many features that were available in Universal Analytics will no longer be available in GA4. This could provide an opportunity for companies to seek alternative recruitment-specific analytics solutions which can be customised for their situation, rather than relying on mass-market tools.
Fewer Standard Reports
Universal Analytics had 30 standard reports out of the box. However, in GA4, there are only a handful available. This is going to mean a huge loss in visibility on whats working and whats not for website managers and marketing teams. Anyone who has tried GA4 so far will no doubt have immediately noticed this stark difference. To get anywhere close to what users had previously is going to take a long time to set up, with some level of expertise.
Data Continuity & Year-On-Year Comparisons
The lack of data continuity between Universal Analytics and GA4 will have a significant impact on marketing teams. Recruiters rely on GA data to track the success of campaigns and to understand the performance of different strategies. Over the next year, to do a year-on-year comparison of results, things are going to get tricky and will no doubt lead to many stitched together reports and lost insights. For example, there is no longer a ‘Bounce Rate’ in GA4, and time on page is calculated quite differently, so engagement can’t be looked at like for like.
Behavior Flow Report
One of the nice features of GA that companies are going to lose out on is the Behavior Flow Report. This report used to show how users moved through the website, which was incredibly useful for understanding how users navigated content and where they were dropping off. Recruiters could identify the post popular job categories clicked from the homepage for example, and then how they went on to apply or where they left.
Load Speed Report
Load Speed tracking used to be one of the unique features making GA better than other options. This report was incredibly useful for tracking the performance of the website and given in many recruitment organisations, there are multiple users uploading content in a CMS, often things like large images can get added in. This can cause slower load times, poorer UX and ultimately affect SEO performance.
No Recurring Email Reports
Users are also going to lose out on the ability to set up recurring email reports. This was a feature available in Universal Analytics, but it is not available in GA4. This can mean less sharing of data around the organisation and more manual pulls and setups.
No Custom Annotations
Another feature that is not available in GA4 is the ability to add custom annotations. This feature allowed companies to add notes to their analytics data, which was useful for keeping track of changes or tracking the success of campaigns.
The move from Universal Analytics to GA4 will have a major impact on recruitment companies of all sizes. There is much less available out of the box for understanding performance, and a lot of advanced setup is needed to achieve close to the same views as GA. This will affect the ability to understand job board performance, paid media campaign performance, user behaviour, testing and more. It is important for recruitment companies to be aware of the changes that are coming, and to make sure they are prepared for the switch. This may mean taking the opportunity to seek alternative analytics solutions which can be more tailored, or paying an expert to configure their GA4 views to try to get back some of what will be missing.