If you are already using Google's Universal Analytics (UA) then chances are you are aware of the significant changes coming up imminently. From 1st July 2023, Google’s Universal Analytics will stop recording website data. At this point, the new version, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be the only way to track new data through your Google Analytics account. Data in Universal Analytics will continue to be in place for at least six months after the grace period. The data will not be accessible following the grace period.
Companies that are more focused on their day-to-day marketing than Google’s warnings may well be taken by surprise by the transition and just how different GA4 is from UA and so many companies will struggle to replicate the full depth of their reporting framework.
While the goal is for GA4 to provide a comprehensive view of user interactions with your brand across diverse platforms and devices, the very active risk is that companies will be working for some time to adjust.
This short guide aims to address these questions while equipping you with the knowledge to embark on your journey with Google Analytics 4. And fear not, if you find yourself overwhelmed, just get in touch.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was launched in 2020 and is the newest version of Google Analytics. It offers a range of improvements over its predecessor, including enhanced data collection tools and improved machine learning capabilities. Additionally, GA4 integrates with other platforms such as BigQuery, Google Ads, and Google Marketing Platform – allowing users to gain insights across all of their campaigns.
The biggest difference between UA and GA4 is that the latter focuses on event-driven data collection. This means that rather than relying on page views to understand user behaviour, GA4 collects data based on interactions with individual web pages, products, or services. Additionally, it supports additional features such as cross-device analysis, enhanced ecommerce tracking, and user-centric attribution models.
In short, you don’t have the luxury of choice, unfortunately.
When time is up and the 1st July 2023 comes around, no new data will write to UA and you will only be able to see new data within GA4.
GA4 is a novel platform with a distinct data model. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the new layout, features, integrations, tracking methods, metrics, and reporting.
1. New Features and Integrations: A GA4 property may not seamlessly integrate with your previous setup. The more bespoke your setup and the more niche your industry, the less helpful ‘general’ guides will be – trial and error may be part of the adjustment, but you can de-risk by getting an audit done of previous and future functionality.
2. Data Transfer: It is crucial to note that data cannot be directly transferred from a Universal Analytics property to a Google Analytics 4 property. Tracking data needs to be established from scratch in a new GA4 property. For those that miss the boat with this, we can help.
3. Ongoing Development: Google will undoubtedly continue to release new features, updates, and improvements for GA4 – some of these may be in response to user feedback but we’re not necessarily holding our breath. To get most use out of GA4, marketers may need to consider how to adapt their requirements to the platform, as well as the other way around.
The switch from Universal Analytics to GA4 will require some preparation on your part. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure a smooth transition:
• Set Up GA4 NOW: Create a new GA4 tracking code and install it on your website. This will allow you to start collecting data in both Universal Analytics and GA4, so you can compare the results side-by-side.
• Analyse Your Data: Take some time to analyse your existing UA data and compare it to the GA4 data that is being collected. This will help you to identify any discrepancies or changes that need to be made for the switchover.
• Set Up Event and Conversion Tracking: Make sure you set up event and conversion tracking in GA4 and determine which metrics are most important to your business. This will ensure that you can continue to track important user behaviour once the switchover occurs.
• Familiarise Yourself With GA4 Features: Get to know the different features of GA4 and take advantage of its powerful reporting capabilities. This will help you make better-informed decisions on how to optimise your website for performance.
The technicalities of transferring from UA to GA4 can be daunting. Google has provided an Analytics Upgrade Center with detailed instructions on how to make the switch, which we recommend you read before attempting any changes.
If you are still feeling unsure about making the transition yourself, then we can help by setting you up with a call with a member of our team to discuss your business and your current Google Analytics setup. Then, we will either get you GA4 ready or provide the consultation to guide you through getting it ready on your own. This includes appropriately setting up Google Analytics 4 tracking codes and making sure Google Tag Manager is properly configured.
A vital part of analytics is conversion and even tracking so you can see exactly what actions are providing value on your site. We can also get this set up so you can see exactly how your website is performing.
Google Analytics 4 offers a range of new metrics and dimensions that can help you gain valuable insights into your website’s performance. Some of the key metrics you should be aware of include:
Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 are two powerful tools that can help you gain valuable insights into your website’s performance. While both have their unique benefits, it is important to understand the differences between them and how to make the transition from UA to GA4 as smoothly as possible.
In summary, embracing Google Analytics 4 alongside Universal Analytics is a prudent move for businesses seeking advanced tracking capabilities, AI-driven insights, and a comprehensive understanding of user interactions across multiple platforms and devices.
Take the time to explore and integrate GA4 into your existing setup, and remember that our SEO Specialists are available to support you on this journey.