Google Analytics and Tag Manager

  • Updated

This article references the implementation of Google Analytics and Tag Manager for the B2B Analytics product. If you would like to implement Google Analytics and Tag Manager for the Configured Commerce product via the Admin Console, please see the Google Analytics section under Website Administration.

B2B Analytics provides helpful information on what users are doing on your site, including:

  • What pages are your users visiting?
  • What keywords are your users searching for?
  • Which site features are your users interacting with?
  • Site traffic by time and location

To gather that information, B2B Analytics depends on Google Analytics and Tag Manager, the industry standard for user behavior and event tracking.

What is Google Analytics?

The main purpose of Google Analytics is tracking data, storing it, and generating reports about your website. Google also provides a set of APIs that allows third-party analytics applications – like B2B Analytics – use that data for reporting outside of the Google ecosystem.

The only way Google Analytics can track these user interactions is with the help of tracking code (also known as GA JavaScript code snippet) that must be placed on every page of your website. The Configured Commerce product makes it easy to implement the tracking code with a Google Analytics Implementation feature within the Configured Commerce Admin Console. Once an event, or interaction, occurs on a site (such as a pageview), the GA JavaScript snippet sends the corresponding data to Google Analytics for aggregation and reporting.

What is the difference between Universal Analytics (GA3) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

Google Analytics has been a leader in website analytics since its launch in 2005. In 2012, Google released its third iteration of Google Analytics, known as ‘Universal Analytics’. In 2020, Google released the beta version of Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

Google will be deprecating Universal Analytics (GA3) on July 1, 2023 and 360 Universal Analytics on July 1, 2024. Until the deprecation occurs, Google recommends that clients install both Universal Analytics and GA4 on your site to allow for adequate time for QA and data comparison. To learn more about Google’s recommended transition path, you can view their documentation on migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.

Google Analytics 4 makes several improvements to Universal Analytics. Optimizely recommends that clients work with a third-party data consultant to best understand how to use Google Analytics 4. Here is a short summary of the key differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.

  • GA3 was built as a session-based measurement model with every event attached to a session. GA4 is an event-based measurement model. Both GA3 and GA4 capture parameters with each event, including the user’s location, time, and device.
  • GA3 restricts sessions by time (typically a 30-minute session), while GA4 does not. As a result, the total session count will likely be lower for GA4, and the average session time will have a wider variance.
  • GA3 only supports website data tracking, while GA4 offers mobile and website.
  • GA3 uses a Tracking ID to differentiate between properties, while GA4 uses a Measurement ID.
  • GA4 uses unique user IDs and reporting identities to measure customer activity across different touchpoints.
  • GA4 offers a more flexible event schema with the option for custom, enhanced, and recommended events. GA4 offers automatic tracking of some types of events, including outbound clicks, site search, video engagement, and file downloads.

Should I implement Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4, or both?

If you are implementing B2B Analytics for the first time, you should implement Google Analytics 4 only.

If you have already implemented Universal Analytics, you should create a new web property for Google Analytics 4, allowing you to have both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 on your site until the deprecation date in July 2023.

What is Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager is a free software that allows you to deploy various types of code (or tags) to your website, including custom tags that go beyond the standard Google Analytics event tags. Tag Manager does not replace Google Analytics but makes it easier for clients to create custom tags, deploy those tags via the Google Analytics code snippet, and define rules for when each tag should fire.

Prior to Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics tracking codes had to be hard-coded, usually by a web developer on each individual page. This requirement made implementing and maintaining hundreds of tags very difficult. Google Tag Manager solves this problem by allowing you to store all your tags in one place and providing an interface to update key aspects of each custom tag. Updates to custom tags can be published to your site easily.

A collection of tags, triggers, variables, and related configurations installed on a given website or mobile app is called a container. Tag Manager is implemented on your site via the same snippet as Google Analytics.

Google Tag Manager works with both Universal Analytics and GA4 in a similar manner. A single Tag Manager Container can be linked to both a Universal Analytics web property and a GA4 web property at the same time.

The Implementation of Google Tag Manager includes the implementation of any linked UA or GA4 web properties. Therefore, clients will only need to install Google Tag Manager on their site, not both GA4 and GTM.

B2B Analytics vs. Google Analytics and Tag Manager

Google Analytics and Tag Manager are free and an industry standard. We expect most Optimizely Configured Commerce clients to have Google Analytics and Tag Manager installed on your site. The B2B Analytics product is not intended to replace Google Analytics.

B2B Analytics seeks to go further with the data by linking Google Analytics data with order history and customer/user information that is available in your Admin Console. Additionally, B2B Analytics provides prescriptive dashboards that are unique to the B2B context – an area that Google Analytics does not serve with its free product.

Once your B2B Analytics account has been provisioned, there may be some reports that are better viewed on Google Analytics. Those reports will be at the user (not customer) level and will relate most to site traffic and user source. The B2B Analytics product should be your primary source of data that is enriched with order history and customer profile information.

Clients of Configured Commerce that operate in the B2C space only will be best served by Google Analytics. Clients that operate in the B2B space, or a combination of B2C and B2B, will appreciate B2B Analyticss prescriptive B2B-focused dashboards.