Limitations of Google Analytics 4 and How to Overcome Them

Laura Caveney
12th December 2022

Google Analytics 4 is an absolute must for marketers looking to understand how users engage with your pages, blogs and site as a whole. We explore the limitations of GA4 and how you can overcome them. 

W3Techs assessed websites to discover which analytic tool they use. Of those analysed, they found 86% used Google Analytics.

Clearly, Google Analytics 4 is a popular tool, and why wouldn’t it be? 

It can provide a huge wealth of data about your website and the people who engage with it. 

But it does have its limitations. We found that 72% of marketers are happy with their reporting but that only 23% are confident they’re reporting on the right KPIs.

So where is the disconnect and what is Google Analytics 4 struggling to report back on? 

Keep reading to learn: 

So, let’s get stuck in! 

What is Google Analytics 4? 

GA4 is a web analytics tool used by businesses to effectively assess the performance of their website. 

Google Analytics provides statistical and analytical dashboards that support marketers to critically assess the performance of their content, their SEO and other key website metrics. 

This tool is essential to any marketing team for a few key reasons. With just one little line of code in your website, you can better interpret how users are finding you, engaging with your content and converting. 

How does Google Analytics 4 works? 

Google Analytics 4 is the latest dashboard that offers a whole host of different tools and reports that will help any marketer get data-driven insights into their marketing. 

It works by adding a small bit of code to the code on your website. Once the code is in and you’ve set up your account, you can pretty much start tracking your website straight away. 

It works by showing how all of your website visitors engage with your pages, blogs and more. 

You can see data like: 

Related: How Google Analytics 4 differs from Universal Analytics

Limitations of Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 is a fantastic tool for measuring your website performance, but when it comes to deeper measurement, you’re going to struggle. 

While GA4 has a wealth of features available, it’s not got everything down perfectly. 

Some of its limitations include: 

Reliance on sampled data 

Data sampling adds a lot of guesswork to your data. GA4 is increasing its reliance on sampled data and machine learning to fill data gaps. 

This move has been done to try and compensate for data changes since the removal of third-party cookies

But what you’re left with is a lack of knowledge about how accurate your data really is. 

The shift from your real data does depend on your data size and data quality, but it isn’t clear exactly how this impacts your reports. 

Cant import historic data 

Universal Analytics is sunsetting in July 2023. And what you’ll be left with is access to your historical data for around 6 months. 

What you won’t be able to do is import your historic data as the data sets and reports are too different. 

So, instead, make sure you’re set up on GA4 sooner rather than later so you don’t lose as much data. 

Related: How to get set up with Google Analytics 4

For any historical data, you’re going to have to look at raw data that you save from UA instead. 

Google Analytics reports on users as a whole 

When you’re looking at reports in Google Analytics, you’re viewing your overall visitor data. As Google Analytics doesn’t track any personally identifiable information on website users, you can’t break down web traffic to view data on a visitor level. 

While this is a great way to get an overall picture of how your website is performing, it doesn’t give much insight into how certain types of visitors are engaging and converting. 

Let’s use an example. 

Two visitors land on your site at the same time. 

One lands on your landing page, scrolls for a minute and bounces off straight away. The other stays on your website for a long time, engaging with lots of different pages. 

Google Analytics averages their two sets of data. So you have no idea that one person was really engaged while the other wasn’t. And as your data set grows, it makes it even more difficult to find trends and actual insights. 

📈 Pro Note 

Tracking individual users in Google Analytics doesn’t have to be impossible. Read our guide to find out how you can unlock this key data

Google Analytics can’t accurately track conversions 

Speaking of converting, Google Analytics can’t track certain lead conversions. 

With a simple bit of code, you can track purchases if users can purchase onsite. But if you’re working to generate leads, then you’re going to struggle. 

Let’s use an example to better explain how it works. 

John engages with your website twice, the first via an organic search and the second via a PPC advert. On this session, he engages with your live chat tool. 

John's full customer journey

There, he speaks to your sales reps and leaves his contact information as he requests more information about your product. 

A few days later, he revisits your website directly. There, he calls your site and converts over the phone into a customer. 

In this customer journey, we have two conversion points.

The first is the live chat tool. While you’ll have a record of his conversation in your live chat analytics, there’s no way to link his conversion to Google Analytics and see what the referring channel was. 

The second conversion is the phone call.

For this, you would need a call tracking tool. And, even if you did have just call tracking, all you will see is that he came from a direct search. We know that the direct search was because he had already researched and assessed your business. 

But otherwise, you wouldn’t know where John had first found your business. And, it means your PPC ad goes unattributed which would drastically affect your reporting. 

While all conversions are hard to track, offline conversions are particularly difficult.

We found that 31% of marketers struggle to track offline conversions. And with good reason. These are more or less impossible to track without a designated tool. 

💡 Pro Note

Want to track your conversions? We wrote guides to tracking forms, tracking phone calls and even tracking live chat.

Each of these count as a conversion, so it’s important you’re getting an accurate count and linking these to your marketing. 

Google Analytics can’t connect revenue from your CRM 

So you can’t easily track leads in Google Analytics. 

But, what’s worse is that you can’t then connect that lead sat in your CRM back to your marketing in Google Analytics when they close. 

Let’s use an example to explain. 

Lucy has visited your website twice. The first via a PPC ad, the second via a Facebook advert. On the second visit she filled in a form to download an eBook. 


Luckily, you have the right tracking set up so that at that point, Google Analytics counts her as a new lead. 

Lucy revisits your site a few days later via a direct search. On this search, Lucy calls your business and converts into a customer. 

If you have call tracking set up, then you might be able to track this call. But what you can’t do is link her closed revenue to that call. Or, to the previous marketing touchpoints she had with your business. 

💡Pro Tip

Want to relay revenue from your CRM to Google Analytics? We can help you. Here’s our guide on how to unlock revenue in Google Analytics

Google Analytics counts traffic differently to other tools

Ever noticed discrepancies between the data in Google Analytics and the data you see in other marketing tools? 

One big one is Facebook. The truth is, Facebook and Google track success differently. We wrote a blog on why Facebook Ads don’t match GA here. 

When you’re counting all different types of metrics tool to tool, you’re going to struggle to find consistency. 

While Google Analytics is a good base, you need to ensure all of the data from your other apps pools in to your reports to cover all bases. 

Getting around the limitations of Google Analytics

We know that Google Analytics is an absolute necessity in your marketing stack. But sometimes, it needs an extra helping hand. 

To overcome the limitations you’ll find in Google Analytics, we recommend integrating a marketing attribution tool into your stack. 

Related: Complete guide to marketing attribution 

With an attribution tool in place, you connect data from all of your sources and send the data you’re missing straight to Google Analytics. 

In our own team, we use closed-loop marketing attribution to help us better understand how content and landing pages are driving not only leads, but revenue too. 

📈 Pro Tip 

Learn more about closed-loop marketing attribution and how it all works with our free eBook 

So, what can marketing attribution with a tool like Ruler help you achieve to remove the limitations of Google Analytics? We’ve got it down to these three key things. 

Track every user on a visitor level

Ever wish you could see what your inbound leads engaged with prior to converting? 

Well, with marketing attribution that’s all possible. 

Ruler will track users from the first time they visit and store all of their interactions. When they convert, their entire customer journey will be viewable right in Ruler’s dashboard. 

Track every conversion 

Marketing attribution supports marketers to track every conversion that occurs on their website. 

Whether that’s a call, a form submission or a live chat conversation. Ruler will track it and send all of the details held on that user (that’s their entire customer journey and data) over to your CRM. 

conversion tracking for ppc

Link revenue from your CRM to Google Analytics  

Since you’re now able to link anonymous website visits and your CRM, you can therefore link closed revenue data back to your marketing. 

Ruler tracks visitors through their entire customer journey. So, when they convert and close into revenue, Ruler will scrape that figure from your CRM and fire to the relevant marketing tools. This includes Google Analytics. 

There, Ruler will accurately attribute it to the influencing marketing channels, campaigns, ads and even keywords if you’re using paid channels. 

This will allow you to log into Google Analytics and see revenue data. 

Wrapping up 

Ruler works to get you the data you need, where you need it most.

And, given it can integrate with 1000s of tools, you can share and scrape data from all of your favourite marketing tools. 

ruler analytics tool integration

This leaves you with accurate marketing data exactly where you need it most. 

Although Google Analytics 4 does have its limitations, Ruler can remove each of them and add even more benefits to your overall marketing stack. 

It’s the perfect tool to help you track, evidence and optimise your marketing. So, if you want to increase your return on investment and get more results for less money, then Ruler is the tool for you. 

Learn more about Ruler Analytics by booking a demo with our team. Or, keep learning what Ruler can do by seeing everything you can do in Ruler.