Should I Make the Switch to Google Analytics 4?
As Google recently announced, Universal Analytics will stop collecting data on July 1, 2023. This means that any websites or mobile apps still using Universal Analytics will need to switch to the new Google Analytics 4 before that date.
Google Analytics users might find this daunting, but there’s no need to worry – we’re here to help! In this blog post, we’ll give you everything you need to know about migrating to Google Analytics 4, including what’s new in Google Analytics 4 and how to make the switch. So read on for all the details!
Migrating to Google Analytics 4 is important not just because of the Universal Analytics cutoff date, but because of all the great new features that come with Google Analytics 4.
What is Universal Analytics?
There are a number of different versions of analytics that Google has released over the years and their names can be confusing. Universal Analytics dates back to 2012 and has been used extensively by websites. Universal analytics tracked “hits” on web pages with support for tracking custom events like purchases.
Ironically, Universal Analytics didn’t provide universal support across platforms like iOS and Android apps. Since apps don’t have a comparable “hits” event, analytics on mobile analytics have always used the event model exclusively. The new Google Analytics solution addresses this longstanding disconnect.
What is Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 is a newer version of Google Analytics that offers many improvements over Universal Analytics, such as enhanced data collection and processing capabilities, more intuitive reporting, and better integrations with other Google products.
Google Analytics 4 exclusively uses events to represent data from websites and apps. This new data model simplifies data collection across multiple platforms. Data streams from different platforms can be analyzed interchangeably enabling new analytics capabilities.
Why do I need to upgrade to Google Analytics 4?
All websites that are currently using Universal Analytics should migrate to Google Analytics 4 before July 1, 2023, when Universal Analytics will be discontinued. After that date, Universal Analytics will stop collecting data and any data previously collected will no longer be available. Website and app owners will need to start using Google Analytics 4 in order to continue tracking their website or mobile app data.
What are the benefits of upgrading to Google Analytics 4?
There are many benefits to making the switch to Google Analytics 4, including a more intuitive interface, improved data collection and processing, better integrations with other Google products, and much more. Google Analytics 4 is also more future-proof than Universal Analytics, so making the switch now will ensure that your website is prepared for any changes or updates in the future. You won’t need to change your google analytics account to upgrade to Google Analytics 4.
What’s new in GA 4?
Google Analytics 4 comes with a host of new features and improvements over the older Universal Analytics version. Some of the key changes include:
Simpler Events and Goals
With the recent advancements in technology, event editing and synthesis has become a much simpler process. You can now track goals with little-to no code requirement or goal set-up time!
GA4 is faster and more reliable than UA
One of the main benefits of the latest version of Google Analytics is that it is faster and more reliable than Universal Analytics. It has been designed with improved data processing and collection capabilities, so you can be sure that your data will be collected and processed quickly and accurately.
Google Analytics 4 offers integration with BigQuery, Google’s cloud data warehouse. BigQuery allows access and processing capabilities that were not possible previously. With UA, this feature was only available to Google Analytics 360 customers at a cost. Data from GA4 can be sent to BigQuery at no cost and includes a generous free monthly data and processing allowance.
App and website user interactions have always been handled inconsistently in UA and previous analytics versions. This made it challenging to correlate user behaviors among different platforms like an Android app, and iOS app, and your website.
Google Analytics data is now combined with Firebase Analytics to give you a complete understanding of user engagement across your platforms. This means that it’s easier than ever before for businesses, organizations and marketers alike who want access into how their customers interact on different devices or websites they use every day.
Customer Journey Tracking
Consistent tracking across different platforms enables customer journey tracking. The customer journey is important because it helps you understand where your customers are in their purchasing process. Now with consistent tracking across different platforms, this information can be used to create a better experience for them and boost engagement and revenue even further!
Google Analytics 4 offers a suite of predictive metrics to help you understand the potential outcomes of your marketing campaigns. These metrics are based on machine learning algorithms and can help you better assess how different changes or modifications to your campaigns will affect your business outcomes.
Considerations for migrating your website or app to Google Analytics 4
There are a few key considerations to keep in mind when migrating your website or app to Google Analytics 4:
- Choose the right Google Analytics 4 property type for your business
- Migrate your historical data
- Update your tracking code
- Set up goals and events in Google Analytics 4
- Validate your Google Analytics 4 setup across all platforms
- Use the improvements in Google Analytics 4 to improve your business outcomes
Fortunately, it is possible to add Google Analytics 4 to your websites and apps while continuing to collect data through Universal Analytics until the later is deprecated in 2023. This permits you to start collecting data with new tags alongside the existing tags to make comparisons to ensure that you do not lose data.
It may be necessary to use the new version of the tracking tags provided by `gtag.js` if you are currently using the older `analytics.js` file. The implementation of a new tag may be dependent on the current setup in your website and will vary depending on if you use Google Tag Manager.
Key differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4
There are some significant differences between these two analytics services that have caused some resistance to adoption. Understanding these differences may help alleviate concerns preventing you from committing to this upgrade or push you to seek alternatives with more features than Google Analytics 4 before Universal Analytics is shuttered. Here are some of the key differences between the two systems:
Completely new measurement model
The upgrade to Google Analytics introduces a new model for sending and storing analytics in the data stream that simplifies the previous version. This enables enhanced measurement, but also dramatically changes the way sessions are estimated. This will likely result in a lower count of sessions that will not coincide with historical data. This is intentional as there were several ways in which sessions were incorrectly overcounted.
Google Analytics 4 offers a number of improvements over the Universal Analytics interface in terms of data reporting and analysis. Some of the key changes include:
In Google Analytics 4, you can now create custom dashboards to track the metrics that are most important to you. You can also share these dashboards with other team members, making it easier for everyone to stay on top of your data.
New Custom Reports
GA4 also offers new custom reports, which give you more flexibility in how you report and analyze your analytics. You can create custom reports based on the metrics that are important to you, and save them for future use.
Because there are fewer default reports, users are encouraged to generate the reports they need which will streamline their analytics interpretation. This also takes the spotlight off of so-called vanity stats (total session counts, for example) and shines it on analytics that can provide actionable answers to interesting questions.
Enhanced segments let you drill down into your analytics to get a more detailed understanding of how different factors are affecting your business. You can create segments based on any combination of dimensions and metrics, making it easier than ever to find the information you need.
You can now perform time-series analysis on your data stream to see how your metrics have changed over time. This can help you identify trends and patterns in your data that can help you make better business decisions.
Google Analytics 4 offers a number of improvements over Universal Analytics when it comes to reporting and analysis. You can still use advanced reporting tools like Google Data Studio to visualize your analytics data. If you’re looking to get a more detailed understanding of your business data, then GA4 is the right tool for you.
An opportunity to review your analytics strategy
Analytics are often viewed as a boilerplate addition to a digital product, a must-have, but deprioritized below other features. We believe that making the most of these precious data streams requires more than flipping a switch to enable data collection. Your analytics account holds great potential for understanding your users and providing actionable insights to inform difficult decisions about your products.
During this migration is a good time to evaluate your existing analytics strategy to see if there are opportunities for improvement. Google Analytics 4 offers a number of features and improvements that can help you make more informed business decisions.
An Analytics Strategy Audit can help you find opportunities for improvement in your current reporting. Google Analytics 4 offers powerful features and insights that can help you take your business to the next level. An independent audit can help you identify gaps in your data and make sure you’re making the most of all the information at your fingertips.
Additional resources that may be helpful when migrating to Google Analytics 4 include:
1. The Google Analytics 4 Migration Guide – This guide provides an overview of the migration process from Universal Analytics to GA4, including how to set up your Google Analytics 4 property, migrate your data, and update your tracking code.
2. The GA4 Migration FAQ – This FAQ provides answers to common questions about migrating to GA4, such as how to migrate your data and what features are available in GA4.
3. The GA4 Resources Page – This page provides links to a number of helpful resources for GA4, including guides, tutorials, and support forums.
4. The Google Analytics YouTube Channel– This channel includes a number of helpful videos about using GA4, including how to set up goals and events, use predictive metrics, and export data to BigQuery.
Overall, a Google Analytics 4 upgrade offers a number of benefits and improvements that make it worth considering for your website or app. The ability to track goals with little-to no code requirement, the improved data processing and collection capabilities, and the integration with BigQuery are all great reasons to consider making the switch.
However, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind like making sure you maintain your historical data. With the end-of-life deadline for Universal Analytics looming, the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll gain the benefits of this new system and reduce the risk of losing valuable data.
Migrating to Google Analytics 4 doesn’t have to be hard. We can help make the process easy for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.