• Blog
  • Jun 16, 2023
  • By LeadsRx
10 Things Google Analytics 4 Can’t Do for You

In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, Google Analytics has emerged as an indispensable tool for tracking and analyzing website data. With its latest version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) businesses have access to a wide range of powerful features and insights. However, it’s important to note that while GA4 is a robust platform, there are still certain limitations. In this article, we explore 27 things that Google Analytics 4 can’t do for you, helping you understand its capabilities and make informed decisions for your digital marketing strategies.

1. Provide Real-Time Data

One of the notable limitations of GA4 is its inability to provide real-time data. Unlike its predecessor, Universal Analytics, GA4 doesn’t offer instantaneous updates on website activities. Instead, it processes and analyzes data in batches, resulting in a slight delay in reporting. While GA4 does provide near real-time data, it’s important to consider this limitation when monitoring time-sensitive campaigns or events.

2. Track Historical Data

GA4 is designed to start tracking data from the moment it is implemented on a website. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the capability to retrieve historical data from before its installation. If you are transitioning from Universal Analytics to GA4, it’s advisable to keep the old analytics code running parallelly to ensure the availability of historical data for comparison and analysis. Here’s more on what GA4 cannot track.

3. Offer Data Roll-Up Reporting

For businesses with multiple websites or subdomains, GA4 falls short in offering data roll-up reporting. Unlike Universal Analytics, which allows you to roll up data across different properties, GA4 operates on a property-based model. This means that each website or subdomain requires a separate property, making it challenging to consolidate data for a comprehensive analysis.

4. Provide User ID Tracking

GA4 lacks the ability to track individual users using a unique identifier. In Universal Analytics, you could assign User IDs to track specific users across multiple sessions and devices. However, GA4 focuses more on privacy and data protection, making it challenging to obtain detailed user-level insights.

5. Support Custom Variables

Custom variables in Universal Analytics allowed marketers to track and segment users based on specific parameters, such as user roles, membership levels, or custom dimensions. Unfortunately, GA4 does not support custom variables. Instead, it relies on the event-based model, where events and parameters are used to capture and analyze user interactions.

6. Include Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking

While Universal Analytics offers comprehensive enhanced ecommerce tracking, GA4 takes a different approach. GA4 simplifies ecommerce tracking by introducing a more flexible and event-based model, but it lacks some of the advanced features provided by Universal Analytics. If you heavily rely on enhanced ecommerce tracking, it’s important to consider the limitations of GA4 before making the transition. Learn more about marketing attribution for ecommerce.

7. Provide Raw Data Export

Unlike Universal Analytics, which allows users to export raw data to external systems or databases, GA4 currently lacks this capability. This limitation restricts the flexibility and control marketers have over their data. However, Google has been actively improving GA4, and it’s possible that this feature will be introduced in future updates.

8. Track Internal Site Search

Internal site search tracking is an essential feature for many businesses, as it helps understand user behavior within a website. While Universal Analytics offers built-in internal site search tracking, GA4 requires custom event tracking to achieve similar functionality. This additional setup can be time-consuming and may require technical expertise.

9. Support Custom Channel Groupings

GA4 introduces a new way of categorizing and analyzing traffic sources with its data-driven attribution model. However, it does not provide support for custom channel groupings, which allows marketers to create their own groupings based on specific criteria. If you heavily relied on custom channel groupings in Universal Analytics, you may need to adjust your reporting and analysis strategies in GA4. Here’s more on tracking marketing effectiveness across channels.

10. Track Events with Virtual Pageviews

In Universal Analytics, marketers could track events using virtual pageviews, which simulated the loading of a new page without an actual page refresh. However, GA4 does not support virtual pageviews as a tracking method. Instead, it emphasizes event-based tracking, requiring marketers to adjust their tracking implementation accordingly.

Google Analytics 4 is a powerful analytics tool that provides valuable insights into website performance and user behavior. While it offers numerous features and improvements over its predecessor, Universal Analytics, it’s important to understand its limitations. 

LeadsRx offers a powerful Multi-Touch Attribution Software that goes beyond what Google Analytics 4 can track. While GA4 provides valuable insights into website data, it falls short when it comes to advanced attribution modeling. LeadsRx fills this gap by providing a comprehensive solution that enables businesses to accurately track and measure the impact of multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey. With LeadsRx, marketers can gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s path to conversion, identify the most influential channels and touchpoints, and optimize their marketing efforts accordingly. 

By being aware of GA4’s limitations, you can effectively leverage it while considering alternative solutions like LeadsRx for your specific requirements. LeadsRx uses a proprietary Universal Pixel™ that captures 100% of inbound traffic to a website no matter where it comes from. Watch this short video to learn more.