With Universal Analytics due to sunset on July 1, every business that intends to analyse its web usage beyond this point needs to make sure it has migrated to Google Analytics 4.
Described by Google as being ‘the next generation of analytics that collects event-based data from websites and apps’, GA4 is designed to help more informed marketing decisions happen.
It’s essentially focused on providing business owners and marketers with more data that spans the entire customer journey, which is to be welcomed. But, there’s a but…using GA4 isn’t an option.
From July 1 this year, Google will sunset its current Universal Analytics system, forcing us all to switch over to GA4. And if you haven’t done the groundwork yet, i.e. set up your GA4 properties, you’ll no longer be able to keep collecting data in Google Analytics (more on this below).
Inside tip: If you created your properties before October 14, 2020, you’re likely to be using a Universal Analytics property. If you created your properties after October 14, 2020, you’re most probably already using Google Analytics 4. This is because the set-up wizard defaults to creating a GA4 property unless you select otherwise.
Have you made the switch yet?
If you haven’t, we appreciate why you may not have done it yet. After all, Google actually announced GA4 way back in October 2020, so it’s easy to have kept pushing it back down your ‘to do’ list, only to find that everything’s going to start changing in just a matter of months.
If this is you, this article is for you. It’s designed to help you understand what GA4 is about and introduce you to the basics of setting up. Of course, if you’d prefer for our technical team to do it instead, that’s fine, you can always reach out to find out more.
In the meantime, let’s continue with this article by focusing on the all-important benefits of implementing GA4…
10 Benefits of Migrating to Google Analytics 4
- Improved data accuracy and more granular user tracking.
- Enhanced machine learning capabilities for automated insights and predictions.
- A more user-friendly interface with customisable dashboards and reports.
- More robust integration with Google Ads.
- User interaction tracking across multiple devices and platforms.
- Improved support for tracking e-commerce transactions and revenue.
- Greater focus on privacy and data protection.
- Enhanced measurement of in-app and app-web conversion.
- Improved support for cross-device attribution and remarketing.
- Switching to GA4 from Universal Analytics will enable you to still analyse and track your online data. As of July 1, you will only be able to view your UA data for six months.
Overall, GA4 provides a more comprehensive and accurate view of user behaviour and engagement. In turn, businesses can make better-informed decisions about their marketing and website optimisation efforts.
For more on GA4’s key features, read our blog, ‘What can Google Analytics 4 do for your business?’
How Do I Switch to Google Analytics 4?
Follow the seven steps below to get set up on GA4:
Step 1: Create your new GA4 property
You can do this by logging into Google Analytics, heading to the Admin section and selecting ‘Create Property.’
Step 2: Give your property a name
Your property is the name of your company website or app. It’s possible for GA4 accounts to contain multiple properties. You can name your property anything you like; most businesses use their company website or domain name as the property name.
Tip: You can always go back into admin and edit your property details at a later date.
Step 3: Set up a data stream
Web data streams essentially involve determining how information is sent to GA4. You can collate data from multiple sources and websites and have up to 50 data streams or 30 app data streams.
Step 4: Locate your measurement ID
Once you’ve created a data stream, you have to implement it by using Measurement ID, which can be found within the Stream settings.
Step 5: Deploy the tracking script
There are a number of ways you can deploy your GA4 tracking script. The method you choose will depend on how your website is built. The most common option is to use Google Tag Manager’s native Google Analytics 4 tag type.
Step 6: Activate and test your new tag
View your tag within Google Tag Manager’s preview mode to check if it has fired on all pages. Then use the GA4 DebugView to make sure you are collecting all of the data you want to collect.
Step 7: Define conversion events
It’s important you define the valuable actions users can take on your website. These actions tend to be the things that are commercially valuable to your business. For instance, tracking form submissions, phone calls or ecommerce transactions. In some cases, your goals can be imported from your Universal Analytics property.
Need help with setting up your feed? Contact us
Why Is Google Switching to GA4?
Fundamentally, the original version of Google Analytics was developed back when most of us used desktop search that could be easily monitored using session-based cookies.
Fast forward to the here and now, and we use multiple devices to access the internet, which requires more sophisticated event tracking techniques and cookie usage. In a nutshell, GA4 uses event-based tracking, as opposed to the session-based tracking of Universal Analytics.
Is Google Analytics 4 Better than Universal Analytics?
Google Analytics 4 is essentially the next version of Google Analytics and, as is the case with most product updates, a layer of additional functionality has been added in.
The main observations are that GA4 enables the entire customer journey to be tracked across multiple platforms, and that includes both websites and apps. It’s also powered by greater levels of AI and machine learning for more detailed insights.
Why Are Marketers against the Move to GA4?
Initial feedback and comments across the SEO community echo the same opinion – that the GA4 interface is difficult to use. Meanwhile, smaller business have commented about the build being more geared towards enterprise users. While this may be true, we would urge GA4 users to spend time exploring the new interface layout. In a nutshell, GA4 still has all the same metrics as Universal Analytics, and more.
We hope you’ve found this GA4 overview useful. One final thing to mention – businesses are required to have made the switch to GA4 by October 1 this year. If you haven’t switched yet, it’s essential you do it sooner rather than later to make sure any glitches are ironed out before Google pulls the plug on Universal Analytics once and for all.
Need help with making the move to GA4?
We can help. We’re a digital marketing agency in Birmingham that has helped multiple businesses switch over to GA4. If you need some guidance or would like us to take care of the entire process for you, speak to our technical team today.
In the meantime, for more best practice guidance and exclusive news, sign up to our monthly newsletter.