In this post we cover the migration from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
If you’re tracking the activity and performance of your organisation’s website with Google’s Universal Analytics (UA or GA3) then you’ve no doubt seen the numerous warnings about Google “sunsetting” Universal Analytics on 1st July 2023. In its place, you’ll need to set up Google Analytics 4 (GA4), or check your tech team or Web Developer has the migration covered already.
If you’re a bit behind the curve it’s fine. There’s still time.
NB: if you’re a GA360 customer then you’ll have one extra year to do this migration but it’s still a good idea to get GA4 in place so you can compare your year-on-year metrics in GA4.
What’s the difference with GA4?
GA4 uses an event-based data model, provides enhanced tracking, and offers advanced features like cross-platform and cross-device tracking.
What needs to happen?
On 1st July, Universal Analytics will cease to track your website’s data, so you’ll need to upgrade your website tracking to the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Unfortunately the process will be a little more complicated than it was 11 years ago, compared to the switch from GA2 to GA3. The key difference will be any conversion goals you have in place as these will need setting up again in your new GA4 property as events – such as sign ups, form submissions, phone calls, or campaign tracking, for example.
If you’re just tracking the basic activity on your site – visits, bounce rate, time on page, traffic sources and so on – then it’ll be a pretty painless process. Although in GA4, things like bounce rate will be replaced with a new metric called Engagement.
In a nutshell, you need to set up your new GA4 tracking property in Analytics (asap) and add the new GA4 code snippet to your website. You can leave the existing UA code snippet in place for now, to compare and check things are working.
Don’t worry. You can accomplish the migration relatively smoothly. But if this isn’t for you, then reach out to your tech team or web developers to action the migration. Or drop me a DM.
Below is a step-by-step guide for the migration process…
(Alternatively, if you prefer a quick video guide, then this one from Google covers the basics (4 mins)… https://youtu.be/Wa8-TLldfCM?t=150 which has links to further guidance below it. Or for a more indepth guide, this video from Analytics Mania is good and features a few tips to help improve your set up (11 mins)… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvt9x2lm5vw )
A step-by-step guide to GA4 migration and set up
(If no conversion goal tracking is in place, or you don’t want to track events, then you can skip steps 4 and 5)
- Create a new GA4 property: Log in to your Google Analytics account and navigate to the Admin section (bottom left). Under the Property column, click on “Create Property” and choose “Web.” Follow the prompts to set up your new GA4 property.
- Update your website’s tracking code: In your website’s code, locate the existing Universal Analytics tracking code snippet. Replace it with the GA4 tracking code snippet. You can find the new code under the Admin section of your GA4 property. Make sure to implement it on all pages of your website. (It sits inside the <head> tags of your site’s code*).
- Set up data streams: In GA4, data streams allow you to collect data from different sources. Set up data streams for each platform or source you want to track, such as your website, mobile app, or other digital properties. Follow the instructions provided by GA4 to configure each data stream correctly.
- Define events and parameters: GA4 relies on events to track user interactions. Review your existing Universal Analytics implementation and identify the events and parameters you want to track in GA4. Events can include page views, button clicks, form submissions, or any other meaningful user interactions on your website or app.
- Implement events in your code: Update your website’s code to include the new GA4 events. Make sure to send the necessary event parameters with each event, such as event names, categories, or values. This step might require development work or coordination with your developers or technical team.
- Customise your reports: Explore the GA4 interface and customise your reports to match your reporting needs. Take advantage of the new features available in GA4, such as the enhanced analysis tools and machine learning capabilities.
- Test and verify data: Once you’ve completed the migration, thoroughly test your tracking implementation to ensure data is being collected accurately in GA4. Verify that events and parameters are being captured correctly and that the reports meet your expectations.
- Analyse and optimise: With your data now flowing into GA4, analyse the reports and insights to gain a better understanding of user behaviour and make data-driven decisions. Take advantage of GA4’s advanced features, such as exploring user journeys, understanding audience insights, and leveraging machine learning to uncover valuable insights.
- Monitor and refine: As you continue using GA4, regularly monitor your analytics data to ensure it remains accurate and up to date. Make any necessary refinements to your event tracking or reporting configuration based on the insights you gain from GA4.
Remember, the migration process may vary based on your specific setup and requirements. It’s always a good idea to consult Google’s official documentation or seek assistance from a web developer or analytics expert, if you encounter any issues during the migration.
What if you don’t have analytics yet?
If you don’t have analytics set up then it’s a good idea to get it installed so you can track the activity and performance of your website. Analytics can tell you what’s working and what isn’t and it can even track external clicks to your site – from your campaigns, ads, emails and social media. You can also set events (goals) to measure how effective a campaign has been or the number of sign ups, bookings or sales made on your site, for example. And you can compare metrics over different time periods, month to month or year to year. If things aren’t moving in the right direction you can make changes to your website, app or campaign to improve performance.