Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google’s web analytics platform, and it represents a significant shift in the way that businesses collect and analyze data about their customers. With the introduction of GA4, Google has announced the end of support for Universal Analytics (UA), which was the previous version of the platform. This means that businesses that are still using UA will eventually need to switch to GA4. In this blog post, we will explore the key differences between UA and GA4, and discuss why it’s important for businesses to make the switch to GA4.
In this blog, we’re going to discuss:
- What Google Analytics 4 is & how it can benefit your business
- When Google will officially deprecate Universal Analytics
- What benefits your business will see if they switch to GA4
- What happens if you decide not to switch to the newer analytics platform
- How Problem Solver’s Consultants can help you improve your organization’s data tracking and reporting capabilities with Google’s new GA4 platform
Contact us today to discuss how you track your analytics and how we can help you make the switch before your business is left to cope with incomplete data and improperly installed Google Analytics tags.
Google has announced that support for Universal Analytics will end on July 1st, 2023. After that date, it will no longer be possible to create or edit properties using Universal Analytics, and any data being collected via the Universal Analytics tracking code will not be processed. Users are encouraged to upgrade to the current version of Google Analytics (known as GA4) before the end of support for Universal Analytics.
“To add insult to injury, Google decided that in addition to forcing us all to migrate to GA4 now that they will also delete all of our historical UA data beginning on January 1, 2024.”
Need assistance with building your GA4 setups and processes? Check out PSC.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google Analytics, which was first announced in October 2020. It is designed to work with the current web and app analytics ecosystem and provides a more holistic view of user behavior across devices, platforms, and contexts.
GA4 has several new features including:
- Integrated data from other Google products, such as Google Ads, Google BigQuery, and Google Cloud Platform.
- A more robust event tracking system, which allows you to track specific user interactions on your website or app, such as button clicks and form submissions.
- Automatic event tracking, which uses machine learning to automatically identify and track user interactions that may not have been explicitly defined.
- User-centric data, which provides a more complete view of user behavior across devices and platforms.
- A new user interface and reporting system designed to be more intuitive and customizable.
It is important to note that GA4 is still new, and features are still developing, but its aim is to provide more advanced analytics solutions with greater flexibility and insights.
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Universal Analytics are both versions of Google Analytics, but they have some key differences:
- Data Collection: GA4 uses a more flexible and event-based data model, which allows for the collection of more granular information about user interactions. Universal Analytics, on the other hand, relies on a pageview-based data model, which can make it more difficult to collect detailed information about user behavior.
- Machine Learning: GA4 includes machine learning capabilities that can automatically identify and track user interactions that may not have been explicitly defined. Universal Analytics does not have this capability.
- User-centric data: GA4 collects data in a user-centric way, meaning that it provides a more complete view of user behavior across devices and platforms based on the user’s ID. With Universal Analytics, the data was collected based on client ID, this data is less complete.
- Cross-Device and cross-platform tracking: GA4 has built-in support for cross-device and cross-platform tracking. This allows you to see how users interact with your website or app across different devices and platforms. Universal Analytics required additional tracking codes and setup to track cross-device or cross-platform behavior.
- Integration: GA4 is designed to work with the current ecosystem of web and app analytics and provides a more holistic view of user behavior across devices, platforms, and contexts. GA4 integrates with other Google services like BigQuery, Google Cloud Platform, and Google Ads.
- Reporting and Interface: GA4 has a new user interface and reporting system, which is designed to be more intuitive and customizable, including a new set of pre-built report and new metrics to better understand user engagement.
Switching to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) involves creating a new GA4 property within your Google Analytics account, adding the GA4 tracking code to your website, importing data from your previous GA property (if desired), configuring and customizing your GA4 property, and then monitoring and analyzing your data using the GA4 interface.
Let’s go through some of the steps you’ll need to take to switch to Google Analytics 4. Before starting this process, we do recommend you hire an experienced team like Problem Solver’s Consultants as to avoid possible data loss and misconfiguration (among other possible negative scenarios).
It’s extremely important to not only keep your tags on your website up to date but the process of keeping your analytics tracking and dashboards as up-to-date as possible can save you headaches (this includes making costly mistakes that can hinder your business’ growth). Switching to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) from a previous version of Google Analytics requires a few steps:
- Create a GA4 property: Go to your Google Analytics account, select the Admin tab, and then click on the “Create Property” button. Select “Google Analytics 4” as the property type and provide a name and time zone for the new property.
- Add the GA4 tracking code to your website: Once you’ve created a GA4 property, you’ll be given a unique tracking code to add to your website’s code. This code should be placed on every page of your website that you want to track.
- Import data from your previous Google Analytics property: If you want to retain historical data from your previous GA property, you can use the GA data import feature to import that data into your new GA4 property. This process can be done via the google analytics interface.
- Configure and customize your GA4 property: Once the tracking code is in place and data is imported, you can start configuring your GA4 property. This includes setting up goals, creating custom dimensions and metrics, and configuring e-commerce tracking (if applicable).
- Monitor and analyze your data: Once you’ve completed all of these steps, your GA4 property will start collecting data. You can then use the data in GA4 interface to monitor and analyze your website’s traffic and user behavior.
It’s important to note that switching to GA4 from a previous version of GA will not affect your existing GA data. The existing GA data will continue to be available in GA, and you can still access it and generate reports for reference. We also recommended that your business to have a testing period where you run both versions of GA before fully moving to GA4 to ensure that all the data and tracking is working correctly.
If Google decides to deprecate a version of Google Analytics and a business does not switch, they will no longer receive updates or support for that version. This means that any bugs or security vulnerabilities will no longer be fixed, and any new features or capabilities will not be available. Additionally, over time, the data collection methods and processing might change, the tracking code of the older version will not be compatible with the new data collection system and the data captured could be incomplete or incorrect, affecting the accuracy of their analytics data.
It’s important to note that when a version of Google Analytics is deprecated, Google typically provides a period of time for users to switch to a newer version before support for the deprecated version is discontinued. However, it’s a good idea for businesses to plan for a migration to a newer version in order to continue to have access to the latest features and support.
There are many resources that are available to small businesses who are looking to make the transition and need help with executing the process of upgrading/migrating their data and properties. Google offers an easy setup guide to get started, but this is limited as a lot of things won’t transfer.
- Correct Conversion Tracking
- Connecting Outside Sources (G Ads / GTM / Facebook Pixel / ETC…)
- Content Groupings
- Custom Dimensions/Metrics
- Referral Exclusions
- Product Link Connections
There are several resources available to help businesses who want more documentation or a strictly hand’s off approach with the transition to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) including:
- Google’s GA4 documentation: Google provides detailed documentation on how to set up and use GA4, including information on tracking codes, data import, event tracking, and more. This is a good starting point for getting familiar with the new features and capabilities of GA4.
- YouTube Tutorials: There are many YouTube tutorials that can help you learn how to use GA4, many of them are made by google themselves and also by experts in the field.
- Google Analytics Community: The Google Analytics Community is a forum where you can ask questions, share ideas, and learn from other GA users.
- Blogs and online articles: There are many blogs and online articles that provide information and best practices for using GA4. Some good places to start include the Google Analytics blog, the GA4 documentation, and the GA4 section of the Google Analytics help center.
- Problem Solver’s Consultants:: We specialize in data and digital marketing and have supported clients with our extensive knowledge and experience in working with GA4. We can provide guidance and support to assist you in making a seamless transition to GA4.
It’s important to note that the process of transitioning to GA4 may vary depending on the specific needs and requirements of your business, so it’s a good idea to consult with experts in the field or to seek out additional guidance and support as needed.
Switching to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) can provide several benefits for businesses, including:
- Increased focus on user privacy: GA4 automatically anonymizes IP addresses and provides more granular controls for data retention and deletion, which can help businesses to comply with regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
- Enhanced data collection: GA4 allows businesses to collect data from multiple devices, platforms, and environments, making it easier to understand how customers interact with their brand across different channels.
- Improved cross-device tracking: GA4 uses machine learning to link user interactions across different devices, enabling businesses to gain a more complete view of their customers’ journeys.
- Greater flexibility in event tracking: GA4 provides more flexibility in setting up and tracking custom events, which can provide valuable insights into user behavior and engagement.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning based analytics: GA4 come with AI-based analytics features like path analysis, which allows businesses to understand how customer travel through their funnel or site and can help businesses to understand and discover customer trends, segment them and also use them for retargeting.
- Better data Governance: GA4 is built with data governance in mind, it offers better control over data ownership, access, and sharing, which gives businesses more control over their data, also with better data tracking and management capabilities, it allows businesses to protect the privacy and security of their user data.
- More efficient and accurate decision making: The enhanced data collection, improved cross-device tracking, and artificial intelligence-based analytics, GA4 allows businesses to make more informed decisions about their marketing and sales efforts, ultimately leading to better business results.
Overall, switching to GA4 can help businesses to gain a more complete and accurate view of their customers’ behavior, to understand and discover customer trends, segment them and also use them for retargeting, and to make more informed decisions about their marketing and sales efforts, ultimately leading to better business results.
How Problem Solver’s Consultants Helps Small Businesses Leverage Google’s Analytics Platforms To Make Informed & Data-Driven Decisions That Increase Revenue & Build Brand Awareness
Problem Solver’s Consultants is a valuable asset for small businesses looking to leverage the power of Google’s Analytics platforms. Our team of experts helps small business owners make informed and data-driven decisions that increase revenue and build brand awareness.
By guiding small businesses through the process of setting up and utilizing Google Analytics, we empower them to make the most of their data, allowing them to gain valuable insights and make strategic decisions that drive business growth. With our help, small businesses can unlock the full potential of Google’s Analytics platforms, making it easier to track and analyze customer behavior, understand marketing campaign effectiveness and improve overall performance.