Universal Analytics (UA) by Google has been the backbone of many marketers’ data and analytics since it was launched in 2012. Since then, Google launched Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in 2020, while continuing to support UA. Very recently, however, Google announced that UA will stop working on July 1, 2023. The marketers who had yet to adopt GA4 are now facing the need to do so within a year’s time. Here’s what this means, and how to make the switch.
GA4 Is Superior
Change is hard, and it’s tempting to feel uncomfortable switching from one technology to another. But when it comes to your analytics, GA4 is a big step up from UA. GA4 offers data-driven attribution, improved ROI, insights powered by machine learning, campaign optimization, and much more. It’s also designed to adhere to new and changing privacy laws, so your organization will be set up for much better compliance now and in the coming years.
UA → GA4
So, what does switching to GA4 look like? Well, let’s start with what it doesn’t look like. Unfortunately, since data is collected differently in each tool, there’s not an easy or automatic migration between the two. Recognize that this won’t be the simplest of migrations, but that it is doable. With that in mind, most experts agree that running GA4 while you still have UA in play is the wisest way to begin.
- Audit your current metrics – UA and GA4 capture metrics differently, with UA operating on a “hit type” basis and GA4 operating based on “events.” So, start by defining what you’re tracking in UA so you can translate those measurements into how they’ll be represented in GA4.
- Create your GA4 profile – Google provides detailed instructions on how to get your GA4 profile started, so check them out and follow along.
- Consider your dashboards & reporting – Reporting is one of the areas most drastically changed in GA4 and might need to be overhauled completely. Take a look at how you used to handle reports, and what they may look like now in GA4. What dashboards do you need to create? How can you make sure you’re getting the information you need to be presented in the way you prefer?
When all is said and done, the benefits of Google Analytics 4 absolutely surpass those of Universal Analytics. But there will be a learning curve as you transition over, along with some potential challenges. Also, remember to train your team to use the new tool. This is a key part of the equation that cannot be overlooked.
Would you like help to transition over to GA4? We’re already helping clients do this, and would love to guide you through the process too! Give us a call.