On 1st July 2023, Universal Analytics is officially being sunset by Google – and will stop processing new data. In our GA4 series we’re discussing everything you need to know before the changeover.
Keep reading for your GA4 changeover checklist – including steps you need to take before 1st July.
Understand the Differences Between Universal Analytics and GA4
Before embarking on the changeover process, it is essential to understand the key differences between UA and GA4. It should be considered as an entirely new platform to UA, with new metrics and methods for data tracking.
Familiarise yourself with the new data model, event-driven approach, and enhanced tracking capabilities offered by GA4. This understanding will help you make informed decisions during the migration process.
We cover all of the key differences in our last article: GA4 vs Universal Analytics: The key differences.
Conduct a Thorough Data Audit
Perform a comprehensive audit of your current UA implementation. Identify the key metrics and dimensions that are crucial to your business and ensure that you have a plan in place to capture the same data in GA4. Take note of any custom dimensions, segments, goals, or filters that need to be replicated in GA4.
Remember – there are new metrics in GA4 which may not necessarily directly translate from Universal Analytics. We cover some of the most common ones in our article here and Google provides more details here.
Save historical UA reports
Before Universal Analytics stops processing data, plan for the retention and storage of historical data. Make sure to save any historical UA reports you want to keep – with UA being sunset in July, it’s possible that historical data will eventually stop being available.
Create a New GA4 Property
Set up a new GA4 property alongside your existing UA property. This will allow you to run parallel tracking and compare data between the two versions during the transition period. Link the new GA4 property to your existing Google Analytics account to streamline the process and ensure consistent access to your data.
Configure Data Import
Determine which data needs to be imported into GA4, such as user attributes, campaign data, events, goals, or offline conversions. Set up the necessary data import configurations within the GA4 interface or via the Measurement Protocol to ensure a seamless transition of valuable historical data.
Update Tracking Code
To ensure data collection continuity, update your website's tracking code to include the GA4 measurement ID. This step enables GA4 to collect data from your website, app, or other digital properties. Test the tracking implementation thoroughly to ensure accurate data collection and minimal disruption to your analytics.
Define Custom Events and Conversions
Identify the key events and conversions that you were tracking in UA, such as button clicks, form submissions, or e-commerce transactions. Define custom events and conversions in GA4 using the new event-driven model. Consider mapping events and conversions between UA and GA4 to maintain consistency in reporting.
Set Up Custom Reports and Dashboards
Recreate any custom reports, dashboards, or automated alerts that were essential to your reporting and monitoring in UA. GA4 provides enhanced reporting capabilities, including cross-platform measurement, exploration reports, and machine learning-powered insights. Leverage these features to create tailored reports and dashboards to meet your specific business requirements.
Educate Your Team
Ensure your team members, especially analysts and marketers, understand the differences and benefits of GA4 compared to UA. Provide training sessions or resources to familiarise them with the new interface, reports, and analysis techniques in GA4. Encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration to leverage the full potential of GA4.
Monitor Data Consistency and Discrepancies
During the parallel tracking period, keep a close eye on data consistency between UA and GA4. Compare reports, metrics, and conversions to identify any discrepancies. This monitoring will help you fine-tune your GA4 implementation and ensure accurate data collection.
Connect GSC and AdWords
Don’t forget to connect your Google Search Console (GSC), Google Ads, and any other linkable accounts to your new GA4 property. These integrations enable seamless data sharing and provide valuable insights into organic search performance and paid advertising campaigns.
Our Head of SEO, David, comments on the changeover:
GA4 is proving to be highly configurable for creating unique reports bespoke to our own clients’ types of businesses. We have found the library collections feature an asset in allowing users to see the data they need as easily and quickly as possible.
As search is moving more towards engagement and content quality, linking accounts such as Search Console and AdWords can provide additional levels of user insights, to enable you to perfect your entire marketing visibility across multiple channels, and streamline your production and budget.
At TDMP we are busy ensuring all our clients are ready for the changeover, so that they can continue to create high-performance, data driven campaigns.
If you’re unsure what you need to do before the changeover in July or need guidance on how you’re going to track your data after the changeover, contact us today.