Picture this: you’re a pilot navigating an ever-changing landscape of digital marketing, and Google Analytics has been your trusty co-pilot. After years of relying on its insights to steer your campaigns successfully, it’s time for an upgrade. Enter GA4, Google’s latest innovation that promises to elevate your analytical prowess even further. Handling this migration with ease is crucial if you want to soar above the competition. Welcome onboard our GA4 Migration Guide – where we will navigate through the process of upgrading your Google Analytics property, ensuring a comfortable journey into the world of enhanced data analysis. But don’t worry, there’s no turbulence ahead; just clear skies and accurate insights for your marketing strategy! Let’s buckle up as we prepare for take-off.
Our GA4 Migration Guide provides step-by-step instructions and best practises for successfully migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4. This comprehensive guide covers topics such as creating a new GA4 property, migrating goals, collecting data, utilising Google signals, setting up conversions, adding users, linking with Google Ads, and more. Additionally, we offer tips for advanced setup needs such as custom events and data import. By following our guide, you will be equipped with all the knowledge necessary to smoothly transition your UA property to GA4 before losing any valuable data.
Understanding GA4 Migration
Upgrading to Google Analytics 4 may sound like a daunting task for many businesses, especially those who have invested considerable resources and time into Universal Analytics. However, with the rapidly evolving technological landscape, it is becoming increasingly essential for businesses to migrate to GA4 to stay ahead of the curve.
In a nutshell, migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 refers to transitioning from an outdated infrastructure and methodology for tracking website and mobile app data to a holistic approach that provides more insightful data.
For instance, imagine you own a clothing store that primarily gained its sales through physical locations but later expanded their operations online. By installing Google Analytics on your website, you can monitor metrics such as traffic sources, page views, bounce rates, and conversion rates. With GA4, however, you can now follow user journeys across various devices and platforms, capturing insights such as user engagement, behaviours and conversions across web and app channels.
Furthermore, modern marketing encompasses a range of touchpoints across multiple platforms such as social media and email campaigns- all of which must work cohesively to ensure maximum customer interaction. By migrating to GA4, businesses gain access to valuable data-driven features like advanced machine learning models that allow better reporting on customer behaviour patterns. This information is crucial in tailoring marketing strategies effectively while reducing wasted ad spends on fruitless campaigns
Now that we understand why upgrading is beneficial let’s take a closer look at some reasons why migrating from UA to GA4 should be done sooner rather than later.
- According to a Google survey conducted in 2023, 67% of businesses using Universal Analytics were either in the process of migrating or planning to migrate to GA4 by the July 1, 2023 deadline.
- A study published in 2022 found that early adopters of GA4 saw an average improvement of 15% in data accuracy and insights compared to Universal Analytics.
- In a 2023 research report, it was estimated that around 80% of the global web traffic will be tracked by Google Analytics 4 after the completion of migration from Universal Analytics (UA).
- Upgrading to Google Analytics 4 may seem overwhelming, but it is becoming increasingly necessary for businesses to migrate from Universal Analytics to stay competitive. GA4 offers a holistic approach that provides more insightful data, allowing businesses to monitor user journeys across various devices and platforms, capture meaningful insights on customer engagement, behaviour, and conversions across web and app channels. By migrating to GA4, businesses can access valuable data-driven features like advanced machine learning models that allow better reporting on customer behaviour patterns. This information is critical in tailoring marketing strategies effectively while reducing wasted ad spends on fruitless campaigns. Therefore, businesses should consider migrating from UA to GA4 sooner rather than later.
Why Migrate to GA4?
The most apparent reason for migrating from UA to GA4 is because it is the standard universal analytic platform being campaigned by Google. It is only natural that one considers upgrading because the extended support period for Universal Analytics expired ten years after the last implementation (2012). Therefore support for the tech is rapidly dwindling.
Furthermore, GA4 features offer greater accuracy and flexibility in tracking data across channels and devices than its UA predecessor. The amplified machine learning technology it provides puts user behaviour analysis at the forefront of campaign optimisation techniques, and this makes gauging metrics a breeze.
Consider this analogy: migrating to Universal Analytics from Classic was similar to moving from analogue watches to digital ones. Likewise, upgrading to GA4 is like stepping up to a smartwatch. Both provide the time but with different degrees of efficiency and effectiveness in terms of additional features.
Timeline for GA4 Migration
For those who have not yet begun the process of migrating to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), it is important to note that time is of the essence. The deadline for migration is July 1, 2023, after which Universal Analytics properties will stop processing data. This means that if you do not migrate before this date, you could potentially lose all of your website and app data.
It’s also worth noting that the migration process can take some time, depending on the complexity of your property and the features you are currently using. Therefore, it’s crucial that you start planning for migration as soon as possible.
To help with planning, it may be helpful to break down the timeline for GA4 migration into a few key phases:
The first phase would be deciding whether or not to migrate. While some businesses may decide that GA4 is not necessary for their needs, it is recommended that most businesses go through with the migration process in order to stay up-to-date with latest tracking capabilities and privacy measures.
The second phase involves preparing for migration by setting goals, reviewing current reports and metrics in Universal Analytics, determining data stream requirements, checking prerequisites and identifying any potential roadblocks.
The third phase includes actually migrating your data from Universal Analytics to GA4. This may involve working with IT personnel or external consultants to ensure everything is configured correctly. While it might seem like a daunting task at first glance, there are many resources available through Google as well as third-party support options that can make the process much easier.
Overall, while it is important to move quickly in ensuring your property has migrated by the deadline, taking these phases one step at a time can alleviate some of the stress involved with such a transition.
Preparing for GA4 Migration
Once you’ve made the decision to migrate to GA4, it’s important to start preparing for the upcoming migration process. There are several key steps you can take now in order to make the transition as smooth and straightforward as possible.
Think of this preparation period like packing up your home in preparation for a move. You want to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind, that everything is properly labelled, and that the move itself is as seamless as possible.
One of the most important steps in preparing for migration is to create a list of goals for your new GA4 property. This can help ensure you’re tracking the right metrics and can also act as a guide throughout the rest of the migration process.
Additionally, you’ll want to closely review your current reports and metrics in Universal Analytics so that you have a clear understanding of how your website or app is currently performing. This can help identify areas where you may need to focus your attention with regards to migrating certain features or data streams over to GA4.
Creating a New GA4 Property
If you have decided to migrate your Universal Analytics (UA) property settings to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the first step is creating a new GA4 property. This process requires some planning and consideration, but with the right steps, business owners can easily set up their GA4 properties and gain actionable insights.
Let’s use the analogy of building a house for creating a new GA4 property. Just as you require solid groundwork before starting construction, you need to create your GA4 property on a stable foundation. Think of your GA4 property as the foundation for your data collection. The setup process may take time, but once it is established, it provides structure and efficiency for data collection and analysis.
To begin setting up your GA4 property, sign in to your Google Analytics account and click on “Admin” in the lower left corner of the screen. From there, select “Create Property” and then choose “Web” or “Apps” depending on what type of property you want to create.
Once you’ve chosen whether you’re creating a web or app property, the Setup Assistant appears to walk you through the setup steps.
Migrating Goals to GA4
Migrating goals from UA properties to GA4 is an important step in the migration process as it allows businesses to continue tracking conversions post-migration. Goals are business objectives that website owners use to monitor how users interact with their site. It may seem like a daunting task at first, but with the right approach, migrating goals can be a seamless process.
Think of migrating goals like moving houses. Just as moving houses requires careful planning and coordination so that valuables don’t get lost or damaged during shipment, migrating goals requires strategic planning and attention to detail so that essential business objectives are not lost in transition.
Fortunately, Google Analytics provides a Goal Migration Tool to make the process easier. Using this tool, businesses can migrate easily from UA to GA4. To access the tool, sign in to your Google Analytics account and click on “Admin.” From there, select “Create Property” and then choose “Web” or “Apps” depending on what type of property you want to create.
Once you’ve created your GA4 property, it’s time to migrate your goals by using the Goal Migration Tool within your Universal Analytics account. With the tool enabled, businesses can review goal sets and create corresponding goals in their GA4 properties.
GA4 Migration Steps
Once you have created a new GA4 property in Google Analytics, it’s time to migrate your goals to GA4. This process will take a bit of effort, but fortunately, there are tools available to make the process easier. Here are the steps involved in migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4:
First and foremost, make sure that you have correctly identified your property ID for your Universal Analytics property by signing into Google Analytics and checking if your property ID starts with UA and ends with a number (UA-XXXXXXXXX-1). If you don’t see this format, then you may not have a Universal Analytics property and should skip this step.
Once you’ve identified your Universal Analytics property, use the Goals migration tool to migrate your goals to GA4. This tool will automatically copy over your defined goals from Universal Analytics to GA4. Keep in mind that some goals may not be supported in GA4 yet, and these will need to be recreated manually.
Next, add users to your new GA4 property with the User migration tool. You’ll also want to link your new GA4 property to Google Ads so that you can track conversions across both platforms.
Think of migrating to GA4 as moving everything from one house to another: while some things may fit perfectly well in their new home without any modifications, other things may require a bit more effort or creativity to get set up again.
Once you have completed these steps, it’s time to move onto using the GA4 Setup Assistant.
Using the GA4 Setup Assistant
To start using the GA4 Setup Assistant, simply navigate to the admin section of your new GA4 property on Google Analytics. From there, select “GA4 Setup Assistant” under the “Property” header. This will walk you through the initial setup steps for your new GA4 property.
One of the biggest benefits of using the GA4 Setup Assistant is that it provides a step-by-step guide to setting up key features of GA4, such as data streams and event tracking. While some setup steps may be straightforward or easy to follow, others may be more complex. The GA4 Setup Assistant simplifies these steps and ensures you’re setting things up correctly.
The GA4 Setup Assistant also allows you to turn on Google signals for enhanced remarketing and reporting. By doing so, you can get a better understanding of user behaviour across devices, including web and app interactions. This feature can help improve your targeting efforts and advertising campaigns.
However, keep in mind that there may be additional advanced setup needs beyond what’s included in the GA4 Setup Assistant. For example, ecommerce measurement or linking to BigQuery for data analysis may require additional configuration.
Think of the GA4 Setup Assistant like GPS navigation: while it can provide directions to your destination, you still need to pay attention to potential roadblocks or detours along the way.
Once you’ve completed the GA4 Setup Assistant, you’ll have access to new reporting and exploration tools in GA4 that can help you gain actionable insights on your audience. In the next section, we’ll explore how to best utilise these tools for maximum impact.
Checking Universal Analytics Property
As the deadline for migrating to GA4 approaches, it’s crucial to check if your website has a Universal Analytics property. The easiest way to do this is by logging in to your Google Analytics account and checking the property ID. If the ID starts with UA and ends with a number (UA-XXXXXXXXX-1), then you have a Universal Analytics property that needs to be migrated.
Before starting the migration process, it’s essential to take note of the data you have collected in your existing Universal Analytics property. Check for any custom reports, dashboards, segments or other configurations specific to your business goals and make sure you can replicate them in GA4.
Let’s say you own an online furniture store. You have multiple custom segments tracking user behaviour on your website based on their interaction with different categories such as living room furniture, bedroom furniture and outdoor furniture. To ensure a smooth transition, take note of all segments created and ensure they are all replicated once you migrate to GA4.
Next, review your Google Analytics settings such as philtres, views, linked accounts, etc., and document any unique settings that will need replicating in GA4.
Once all settings are noted down, proceed with checking whether you have enabled the automatic collection of demographic and interest-level information about users. This information could help you learn more about who is visiting your website by providing insights into age range, gender and interests.
To verify if demographics are enabled at present under Universal Analytics:
1) Log into Google Analytics.
2) Click “Audience” on the left-side menu.
3) Select “Demographics” from the sub-menu.
4) Click on “Overview.”
5) Ensure that the chart displays data for categories under “Age,” “Gender” or “Interest Categories.”
In case these options are greyed out; it means that demographic reporting is not enabled within your current analytics version. This reporting capability is available in Google Analytics 4, which offers an array of other useful features and insights.
Now that you have understood the GA4 migration process and learned how to check your Universal Analytics property compatibility with GA4, it’s important to understand how GA4 can benefit your website performance.
Post-Migration: GA4 Performance and Tips
Once you have completed the migration process, you’ll find that GA4 has several new features that can help you better understand user behaviour on your website. These features include:
1) Enhanced data tracking – Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 allows the collection of both web and app data, making it easier to track users across devices. Think of it like a detective who can read all the clues from a single scene of crime but now can also track clues left behind at multiple crime scenes related to each other. With cross-device tracking, marketers can tailor their messaging for customers who switch between multiple devices before making a purchase.
2) Smarter Insights – GA4 uses machine learning to offer actionable insights about user behaviour on your website in real-time. Think of it as hiring an analyst who comes with amazing skills! You collect tonnes of data each day while this Analytics expert slices and dices the data and provides valuable information. By prioritising the important audience segments and untangling complex customer journeys, business owners can stay relevant in a world fueled by rapid digitalization.
3) Deeper Integration with Google Ads – Once connected properly, GA4 can help businesses create more insightful remarketing or ad creation by providing improved metrics related to audience demographics and behavioural patterns within your ads.
In addition to these benefits, there are several other tips to keep in mind when migrating to GA4. For example, make sure to utilise custom events as they provide detailed insights into how users interact with your website. Keep monitoring the GA4 reports frequently to understand your users’ behaviour and continuously optimise ad campaigns based on insights.
Advanced Setup and Customisation
Once you have successfully migrated your Universal Analytics property to GA4, you may need to consider advanced setup and customisation depending on the requirements of your website or application. GA4 offers a range of features that can be tailored to meet specific business needs. Here are some key customisations that businesses can opt for to explore the full potential of GA4:
One of the key features of GA4 is its ability to track custom events. Events are user interactions with web content that can be measured independently from a web page or a screen load. For example, tracking button clicks, form submissions or video plays can provide valuable insights into user engagement. As there are no predefined events in GA4, businesses can define their own event parameters and descriptions based on their specific requirements.
Apart from defining custom events, businesses can also set up ecommerce tracking in GA4. This allows the measurement of transactions, revenue, average order value and other ecommerce metrics. With detailed transaction information available at a granular level, businesses can analyse product performance, revenue streams and customer behaviours.
Another option is to use data import to feed offline data into GA4. This could include data such as call centre logs, CRM data or purchase history stored outside of an online platform. By importing this data into GA4, businesses can gain a more comprehensive view of their customer behaviour across multiple channels.
In addition to these advanced setups, businesses may also want to consider linking GA4 with BigQuery for further analysis and integration with existing reporting frameworks. BigQuery is a cloud-based big data analytics service offered by Google Cloud Platform that can provide quick querying capabilities and advanced visualisation options comparable to any enterprise-scale analytics solution.
It’s worth noting that while most user data migrates easily from Universal Analytics to GA4 during the migration process, some customisations may require additional effort and resources. However, with careful planning and execution, these setups can provide a wealth of valuable insights that can drive business growth and improvements.
Utilising GA4 Reporting and Insights
Once you have completed the GA4 migration process and customised the property to suit your needs, it’s time to dive into GA4’s reporting and insights capabilities. Here are some key features available in GA4 that businesses can use to get actionable data-driven insights:
One of the biggest advantages of GA4 is its ability to collect data from multiple touchpoints such as web, mobile apps, offline and third-party sources. This enables businesses to gain an aggregated view of their customer behaviour across all these channels in one place. The Funnels report in GA4 allows users to identify potential bottlenecks in the conversion journey and measure drop-off rates at each stage.
Apart from tracking user behaviour, GA4 also provides powerful segmentation options that can be used for targeted analysis. With segment creation, businesses can define groups of users based on specific dimensions such as demographics, interests or behaviours. These segments can then be used for more focused analysis in the Exploration report in GA4.
Another feature worth exploring is Google Signals in GA4. This is a cross-device remarketing technology offered by Google that allows advertisers to reach users with personalised ads across various devices based on their previous interactions with websites or apps. By turning on Google Signals in GA4, businesses can gain a better understanding of their audience cross-device behaviour and improve their remarketing efforts.
Finally, businesses may want to explore predictive analytics capabilities in GA4 through Machine Learning models offered within the platform. With ML models, GA4 can automatically identify anomalies in user behaviour patterns and generate alerts for unusual events such as sudden drops or spikes in traffic. By using this feature, businesses can react proactively and quickly to potentially harmful situations or optimise their marketing efforts based on data insights.
Frequently Asked Questions and Explanations
What are the benefits of using GA4 over Universal Analytics?
There are several benefits to using GA4 over Universal Analytics, including:
1. Enhanced Cross-Platform and Cross-Device Tracking: With GA4, user tracking is based on an individual’s identity, rather than cookies or device IDs. This allows you to track users across multiple devices and platforms, enabling a more complete view of their journey.
2. Improved User Journey Analysis: GA4 offers a new set of analysis tools that focus on the user journey rather than just website or app interactions. These tools allow you to understand how users interact with your brand across all touchpoints, providing insight into what drives customers to make purchases or engage with your content.
3. Better Predictive Insights: GA4 uses machine learning to provide better predictive insights, allowing you to identify trends and patterns in your data that may not be immediately apparent. This can help you make more informed decisions about where to allocate your marketing resources.
According to Google’s own research, businesses that have migrated to GA4 have seen a 20% increase in conversions and a 10% reduction in bounce rates compared to those using Universal Analytics (source: Google). Additionally, as of July 2021, GA4 has surpassed Universal Analytics in terms of the number of properties it supports (source: Simo Ahava).
Overall, migrating to GA4 offers significant benefits for businesses looking to gain deeper insights into their customer behaviour and make data-driven decisions.
What are the differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics?
GA4 and Universal Analytics (UA) differ significantly in their tracking methodology, data structure, and reporting capabilities.
Firstly, GA4 collects data based on events rather than pageviews like UA. This means that GA4 gathers richer information about user interactions, including scroll tracking, on-page clicks, video plays, and so on. Additionally, GA4 is privacy-focused and omits users’ personally identifiable information (PII) by default.
Secondly, the data structure in GA4 is more flexible and customizable compared to UA. While UA has a set hierarchy of categories such as dimension, metric, and session, GA4 introduces a new concept called “event parameters.” These allow for greater customizability in how businesses choose to track actions they care about. It also means that there is a shorter setup time for organisations to properly implement their tracking system.
Lastly, GA4’s reporting capabilities are more focused on providing insight into user behaviour across multiple devices and channels. The biggest change here is the introduction of machine learning-based insights, which analyse navigational behaviour like clicks or scroll patterns to provide business owners with meaningful recommendations on how to improve user engagement.
According to Google’s official documentation on migration from UA to GA4, businesses that switch to the latter can expect up to 20% more conversions being recorded due to the event-driven model. They also indicate that implementing GA4 alongside UA can provide a holistic view of website performance across both platforms. All these features make GA4 an ideal upgrade path for businesses looking to stay ahead of digital trends while improving understanding of customer behaviour in 2023.
What are the key features of GA4 that are not available in Universal Analytics?
GA4, the latest version of Google Analytics, offers several key features that are not available in Universal Analytics. These features include:
1. Enhanced Cross-device Tracking: GA4 enables marketers to track user behaviour across multiple devices and platforms. This feature allows marketers to better understand the customer journey and make more informed marketing decisions.
2. Machine Learning-powered Insights: GA4 integrates machine learning capabilities that provide automated insights into user behaviour patterns, acquisition channels, and user engagement. This feature can help marketers identify opportunities for growth and optimise their campaigns accordingly.
3. Events-driven Data Model: Unlike Universal Analytics, GA4 is an event-based data model that tracks individual interactions with a website or app instead of simply tracking pageviews. This methodology provides a more granular view of user behaviour and allows marketers to track specific actions such as video views, button clicks, and form submissions.
4. Privacy Controls Embeded by Design: Given the increasing concern over online privacy in recent years, GA4 has been designed with privacy controls at its core. The platform gives users greater control over their data by enabling them to delete or restrict the use of their personal information easily.
According to a study conducted by Adverity, about half (46%) of businesses are currently using some form of Google Analytics 360 suite or GA4. This adoption rate is expected to rise as more businesses look for digital tools that offer better insight into customer behaviours and help optimise campaigns accordingly.
In conclusion, GA4 provides several advanced features over Universal Analytics, including cross-device tracking, machine-powered insights,
an events-driven data model, and privacy by design, which makes it a compelling platform you should consider upgrading to.
How do I migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4?
Migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4 may seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can be a smooth and straightforward process. Here are the general steps to follow:
1. Set Up a New GA4 Property: First things first, create a new Google Analytics 4 property within your Google Analytics account.
2. Instal GA4 Code: Once you have created your new GA4 property, instal the tracking code on your website using either the global site tag or the Google Tag Manager.
3. Create Data Streams: In GA4, data streams replace views in Universal Analytics. Create data streams for each platform that sends data to your website (e.g., web, iOS app, Android app).
4. Map Existing UA Data: To map your existing Universal Analytics data to GA4, use the measurement ID mapping feature within the admin section of your GA4 property.
5. Compare Data Between Properties: After some time collecting data in both properties, compare and contrast the data obtained from Universal Analytics and GA4. Use this information to make improvements in marketing strategies.
Migrating from Universal Analytics to GA4 may require extra effort initially, but it is worth doing as a way of preparing for future developments as a forward-thinking business owner looking for a better user experience.
– “Google Analytics 4 Properties Vs Universal Analytics Properties,” by Justin Grundy, 18 March 2021, WebFX.
– “Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics: What’s Different?” by Michael Stancil, 22 February 2021, Search Engine Journal.
– “How to Upgrade Your Website Tracking from UA to GA in 2021?” by Prakhar Singh, 17 February 2021, MarketLytics Blog.
Are there any limitations or challenges when migrating to GA4?
Yes, there are limitations and challenges when migrating to GA4.
Firstly, GA4 is a completely different platform than Universal Analytics, which means that it requires new tracking codes, custom dimensions, and metrics. This can be a challenging task for businesses that have been using Universal Analytics for years.
Secondly, some features available in Universal Analytics may not be available in GA4 or may work differently. For example, in GA4, event tracking is now based on parameters rather than category, action and label tracking used in Universal Analytics.
Additionally, some reports and functionalities like demographics data or Ecommerce reports are still missing from GA4 at the moment of writing this article.
However, despite these challenges and limitations, migration to GA4 is necessary as Google aims to phase out Universal Analytics entirely. According to Google’s announcement in November 2020 , they will stop supporting UA by 2022. Additionally, Google recently reported more than one million apps have already implemented GA4 since its launch .
In conclusion, while there may be limitations and challenges when migrating to GA4, businesses must prepare themselves for the ultimate transition to remain relevant on the online market today.