If you currently use Google Analytics, you know Google recently revealed that they’re replacing Universal Analytics with Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Have you made the switch yet? If you’re wondering how to prepare for the change, this article is for you.
Why Google is Moving to GA4
According to Google, the current version of Google Analytics, known as Universal Analytics (UA), “was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions, and more easily observable data from cookies.”
Since then, how people use the internet, and the data businesses need to effectively track information has changed to the point that Universal Analytics can no longer support it. Today, people access the internet using home and work computers, phones, and tablets. They also take advantage of numerous apps – which have entirely different ways to access the internet.
And now that we have new privacy and data laws, people are blocking data tracking pixels and software either by using a third-party blocker or by directly telling apps they can’t track them.
Because of all these changes, Universal Analytics can no longer keep up with everything businesses need it to do. And because they understand how people use the internet now (and in the future), Google decided it was time to build an entirely new platform. So, they created GA4.
Google rolled out GA4 in 2020, but many businesses have been slow to adopt it. Since it’s an entirely different platform, unlike the last update to Universal Analytics, it’s not as simple as merely changing the code. There are significant changes in features and how you access reports and view the data that GA4 collects.
Now, businesses no longer have the option to use GA4 or not. Starting July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will stop collecting data. After that, business owners and marketers have six months to view historical data – but GA4 will not be collecting any new data. UA will be shut down by the end of 2023, and the stored data will no longer exist.
Since the change is more involved than simply switching out lines of code, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to set up your GA4 account.
How to Prepare Your Business for GA4
There’s no way around it – GA4 is the future. Since learning a new platform takes time, you may want to make the transition soon. We strongly encourage you to add GA4 before July to have reporting set up and ready. Here are some additional things to keep in mind.
Depending on how you've set up Universal Analytics, you'll need to take specific steps to transition to the new platform.
If you installed UA using one of the recently updated gtags, you can connect the two platforms and request your UA setup be sent to GA4.
However, if you installed UA over five years ago and still use the old code, you need to set up GA4 as a separate platform.
- Choosing Which Behaviors to Track and Measure
Recording data in GA4 is entirely different than UA.
In Universal Analytics, you’re probably already measuring certain behaviors, like page views and scroll depth. You’ll most likely want to measure most of the same behaviors in GA4.
For each type of behavior, you need to set up a new inside GA4 that describes the behavior – for example, a click event, a scroll event, and a purchase event. Your business model determines the events you set up.
To prepare for the transition to GA4, list all the behaviors you currently measure (or wish you’d been measuring) in UA. Then set them up individually in GA4.
- Adjusting to a New Way of Reporting
For most of us, change isn’t comfortable or easy. So, give yourself time to adjust to the differences. GA4 is great for storing data and measuring the mindset around behaviors on your platforms. There’s also a library function so you can share reports with your team and other exciting features that haven’t been there before.
It's crucial to switch to GA4 as soon as possible so you can build historical data before UA stops processing new hits.
Everything matters when it comes to data – from how you collect and store it to how you analyze and leverage it. Data is a valuable asset, and GA4 is the tool to help make that happen.
To learn more about GA4 or what you can do to ensure your data and analytics are set up correctly to help you make data-driven decisions for your business, contact Impact Group Marketing today.