GA4 will replace the current version of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics or UA) on July 1, 2023. It is essential that your data is migrated carefully to avoid any loss.
It goes without saying that good analytics is one of the keys to business success. Google Analytics has been invaluable in assisting your company in making more informed decisions, achieving various goals, better understanding your customers, and gaining insight into your competitors. Google is taking analytics to the next level with GA4, delivering even more insights to help your business grow. Continue reading to learn more about migrating to GA4 and why you should get started right away.
What’s the distinction between GA Universal and GA4?
Despite the fact that Universal Analytics (UA) has been around for nine years, it was merely an upgrade to the original Google Analytics Classic. Universal Analytics employs a session and page view-based evaluation model. A session is defined by Google as:
“A session is a collection of user interactions with your website that occur within a specific time frame.” A single session, for example, can contain multiple page views, events, social interactions, and e-commerce transactions.” … “You can think of a session as a container for the actions that a user takes on your site.”
While GA Universal is page-focused, GA4 is not. Rather than focusing on page views, GA4 employs an entirely new type of event-based measurement. It tracks the performance and relative contribution of individual page elements, complete with variations. GA4 allows you to measure the lived experience rather than a proxy, providing a complete picture of user behavior and eliminating blind spots as you track a user through their entire journey on your website.
Whether a visitor interacts with your company via a mobile app, software, or website, all traffic sources are now tracked in one place, eliminating the need for additional products such as App + Web. There are numerous changes, including a new interface. GA4 also employs new Google Tags, as well as a new Google Analytics property for data storage.
Individual tracking and targeting will soon be a thing of the past due to changes in how we use the internet; websites are dynamic, surfers use multiple devices in varying ways, and data collection laws have shown that individual tracking and targeting will soon be a thing of the past.
Add to this the rapid advancements in marketing technology and significant shifts in consumer behavior and attitudes. These changes imply that the data on which you base your decisions can be improved or approved and that a new method of measuring user behavior is required to respond to these changes.
While Google recently announced that GA Universal would be phased out in June 2023, migrating to GA4 sooner rather than later will benefit your company. Another compelling reason to board the GA4 train as soon as possible is machine learning.
Machine learning can assist in filling some of the gaps in your visitor data. The earlier you begin gathering data, the more accurate the algorithm will be.
3 compelling reasons to migrate to GA4 right now
When it comes down to it, you really don’t have a choice. You must transition to GA4 by July 1, 2023. However, there are a few compelling reasons why you should migrate now rather than postpone the inevitable.
1. GA4 is only forward-looking; it will not import previous data and will only collect data from the time of creation. The earlier you migrate, the more data you will have, including year-over-year data.
2. Enjoy the advantages of better data right now – GA4 provides a number of advantages and makes it easier to obtain the custom reports you require, allowing you to make more informed decisions more quickly and increasing the effectiveness of your website.
3. Consider it a trial run – GA4 is the future of analytics. The system is already fully functional and ready to add new analysis technology without the need for additional code. Google will gradually add more standard features.
Use this time to become acquainted with the changes and ensure that everything is configured exactly as you require and that goals are being tracked correctly.
GA4, which is already the default property type when creating a new Google Analytics property, will soon become the industry standard for analytics. By deploying GA4 now and running it alongside legacy analytics, you will reap all of the benefits of the new system sooner, have more time to become acquainted with the new interface, and be better prepared for what is to come.
Early implementation will allow your company to benefit from the improved experience and data sooner rather than later. Why bother?
Of course, nothing is without risk. We identified four potential risks associated with the GA4 migration:
1. The analytics migration process can be complicated, and it may have an unexpected impact on your reporting and analysis.
2. The documentation for GA4 is not yet complete.
3. Some UA features are missing from GA4. Some of these shiny new features will essentially come at the expense of some of our old favorites.
4. Because these two data collection methods differ, report data will not perfectly sync after the transition.
Moving from descriptive to predictive analytics
Migrating to GA4 may not be as simple as it appears, and it is certainly not as simple as simply replacing old code with new code. Data can easily be lost during the transition, so your data must be carefully migrated to avoid loss. Some data does not currently exist in the same way that it does in GA Universal.
Our advice is to install GA4 and run it alongside GA Universal. Running the two systems concurrently for the next 13 months before being forced to switch over will immediately start the clock on new data collection and insights while retaining access to historical data.
After that, sit back and let all that juicy data pile up. When you’re ready to begin using GA4 as your primary analytics platform, you’ll have a year’s worth of historical data to establish baselines with.
The significance of properly migrating to GA4
Enlisting the help of GA experts to migrate your analytics to GA4 can help you avoid losing valuable data. The differences in data collection between GA Universal and GA4 will necessitate many changes to be implemented and tested before you can replicate your current dataset.
Because the reporting interface is also new, it will take some time to get used to it.
A side-by-side migration allows you to access information in the manner with which you are already familiar while becoming acquainted with the new system, making the transition easier.
Here are the steps Google recommends for migrating to GA4 and the level of effort/skill required for each.
Digitalcrave has identified a few additional items that must be addressed that are not on Google’s checklist:
Because the Google Analytics “view” in GA4 is changing, your traditional APIs will no longer work on third-party platforms, CRMs, dashboards, and so on.
APIs must be modified, and connections to dashboards and reporting tools must be reconfigured for the new property without a view.
You will need to create new filters, as well as plan how GA4 will fit into your overall business, including training and reporting.
What comes next?
All standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on July 1, 2023.
All 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on October 1, 2023.
Following that, previously processed data will only be available for six months.
Yes, you read that correctly. After UA’s sunset date, you will only have access to previously processed data for six months.