GA4 is replacing the current version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics or UA) in July 2023, so your technical support experts needs to move on this immediately.
Google officially confirmed that Universal Analytics will cease to exist after July 1, 2023, meaning no new raw data will be collected after that date in UA,
Only new data gets collected in GA4.
In 2024 you’ll be using GA4 anyway, as Google is ‘sunsetting’ (phasing out) UA and it’s important your data is migrated carefully to avoid losses.
Unfortunately, the process of migrating to GA4 isn’t as simple as just changing “old code to new code” so you will need a professional to assist with this move!
- Firstly, some data doesn’t (currently) exist in the same way as it does now in UA (Universal Analytics)
e.g. The GA4 measurement model is based on ‘Events’, not ‘Sessions’ and ‘Pageviews’ as in Universal Analytics
- Secondly, the GA4 Analytics interface itself is very different to what you have previously been using/ seeing. It will take time to learn.
Why has Google changed it’s Analytics?
Google explained some thoughts behind their new GA4:
“Millions of businesses, large and small, rely on Google Analytics to understand customer preferences and create better experiences for them.
With more commerce moving online and businesses under increased pressure to make every marketing dollar count, insights from digital analytics tools are even more critical.
But with major shifts in consumer behavior and privacy-driven changes to long time industry standards, current approaches to analytics aren’t keeping pace.
In a survey from Forrester Consulting, marketers said that improving their use of analytics is a top priority, and that existing solutions make it difficult to get a complete view of the customer and derive insights from their data……
Because the technology landscape continues to evolve, the new Analytics is designed to adapt to a future with or without cookies or identifiers.
It uses a flexible approach to measurement, and in the future, will include modeling to fill in the gaps where the data may be incomplete.
This means that you can rely on Google Analytics to help you measure your marketing results and meet customer needs now as you navigate the recovery and as you face uncertainty in the future.”
What should I do about GA4 for my site?
Once Google phases out UA (Universal Analytics) your current data will no longer be collected, so you will need a GA4 property instead.
I hear from clients all the time that they “wish they could just read a How To and do this type of work themselves”
Sadly, this is “pennies wise and pounds foolish” thinking.
Business owners need someone with specialist GA knowledge to migrate their Analytics, so they do not lose valuable data
There are a lot of changes to implement and then test (due to the difference in data collection) before someone builds a ‘like-for-like’ replica of your current UA dataset.
Many of our clients do not access their site’s Google Analytics themselves, as it is time consuming, confusing and often the data and options are simply overwhelming!
They rely on us to use Analytics, as part of their SEO and SEM, in our DDDM (Data Driven Decision Making) strategic consulting.
UA will still be supported by Google for the foreseeable future( we can see historical data for a further six months from July 1, 2023) but migrating to GA4 offers site owners the benefits of enhanced tracking, improved cross-platform insights, future-proofing, privacy compliance, machine learning capabilities and more seamless integration with other Google products and tools.
If you have limited experience with analytics (or have a more complex website) hiring an expert will be the best thing you can do.
Analytics experts can provide guidance with implementation, ensure a smooth migration and help optimise your tracking setup in GA4.
They can also assist in data validation, make sure to test that your tracking is accurate ……and still aligned with your business goals.
What does Google say it will do better in GA4 Analytics?
Google has positioned GA4 as the future of analytics, indicating that it will be the primary focus for new features and updates going forward.
By migrating to GA4 NOW, site owners (and/or their marketing team) can stay up to date with the latest analytics capabilities and innovations from Google.
Machine learning and insights:
GA4 integrates Google’s machine learning capabilities, providing more advanced insights and predictive analytics.
It can automatically identify trends, anomalies and opportunities, helping you make data-driven decisions and optimise your website’s performance.
Privacy and compliance:
Some say this is a big driver for Google in the Analytics change. People care about their privacy more than ever before.
GA4 incorporates privacy-centric features and aligns with ever evolving data privacy regulations.
It supports features like data deletion, user consent settings and better data control, which can help websites adhere to privacy regulations
(such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Cross-platform and cross-device tracking:
This tracking is something Marketing Agencies have been wanting improved for a long time!
With UA, tracking users across different devices and platforms required additional setup and configuration
GA4 simplifies this process, providing a more accurate and holistic view of user journeys and interactions (we hope)
This is a time of change and everyone has to get used to re configuring how the data is set up and then used/ evaluated.
Marketing agencies have been on a learning curve for months now to factor all the new variables- and work out how to get the most from GA4.
Ask for a Quote to migrate your UA to GA4
As with everything in Life, there are Pros and Cons to GA4 VS UA (Universal Analytics)!
Some Cons to be aware of
Limited historical data:
GA4 starts tracking data from the point of implementation.
It does not have access to your historical UA data unless you set up data imports or data streams.
This can limit your ability to compare long-term trends and historical performance between UA and GA4.
Some third-party tools and platforms may have better integration support for UA compared to GA4.
As GA4 is relatively new, certain integrations and plugins that are specifically designed for UA may not be fully compatible or optimised for GA4 yet.
(This is expected to improve over time as GA4 becomes more widely adopted)
Reporting and features gap
While GA4 offers many advanced features and predictive insights, it currently lacks some of the reporting capabilities and features available in UA.
Certain reports and dimensions that you might be accustomed to in UA may not be available or may have different implementations in GA4
eg Acquisition Reporting
In UA, there are 30 standard reports within the Acquisition reporting area (including one we love, the ‘Source/Medium’ report)
At present in the same reporting area in GA4, there are only 3 Acquisition reports initially available .
Customisation and advanced configurations:
If you have a complex website with custom tracking configurations, advanced event tracking, or specific implementation requirements, migrating to GA4 might require additional effort and customisation.
GA4 has a different data model and transitioning custom tracking setups from UA to GA4 may involve potential challenges and adjustments!
Get Help Now with GA4 Analytics- Book a Free call today!