Google Analytics released a new version called Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in October 2020. Thus, we’ve put up this quick Google Analytics 4 migration guide for marketers who want to properly move their current web properties towards it.
Google Analytics 4 is a web analytics tool that lets you track visitors and engagement throughout your websites and mobile apps. In June 2023, GA4 will replace Google Analytics’ current version (Universal Analytics or UA). Next year, you’ll be utilizing GA4, and your should move your data appropriately to minimize data loss.
On July 1, 2023, all conventional Universal Analytics properties will stop processing unique contributions. On October 1, 2023, 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop accepting new hits.
Finish configuring your Google Analytics 4 property to take advantage of measurement accuracy, intuitive insights about the customer path, and simple activation to boost marketing ROI.
When you sign in to your Google Analytics account, you may find prompts to upgrade to Google Analytics 4, and if you’ve been to the admin section, you would see a GA4 Set-Up Assistant. If you’re a savvy GA user, simply following the assistant will be enough.
Google Analytics 4 Vs. Universal Analytics
Are the fundamental differences between UA and GA4 still a riddle to you? This Google Analytics 4 migration guide will assist you in getting ready for the shift.
App + Web
The most important thing to remember about GA4 is simply a redesigned version of Google Analytics. It aims to integrate your web and app analytics data silos into a single data gathering and reporting interface. You can track and evaluate the customer journey across devices by collecting data from your website, Android, and iOS apps underneath one property.
Data streams are a method of combining data from multiple sources into a single property. Each property can have many web and app streams, and it will remove the views themselves from GA4. It would set filters at the property or sub-property level (sub-properties are a GA4 360-only feature, with possibilities for testing before activation and deactivation.
All Hit Types Become Events
GA4 was intended to provide a clear image of the customer experience across web and mobile platforms. It alters the UA’s approach of many hits + custom metrics and statistics to accomplish it. It also reflects the app’s strategy of events + parameters, which Firebase users will be aware of. In GA4, UA pageviews can still be provided as an event.
Parameters are used to customize events instead of custom statistics and dimensions. As customers move between devices and the web, this consistency with how things are done on applications will help build a whole perspective of the customer experience.
Simple Ad Hoc Analysis & Fewer Standard Reports
There will be fewer basic reports, and with Explorations in GA4, it will be easier to develop unique ad hoc reports. The user interface for explorations is similar to Data Studio, and you can generate bespoke reports for specific users or roles. You may also utilize templates to enable you to get started.
Templates range from free form to funnel & path research, conversion, acquisition, and eCommerce reports templates and are organized by strategies, use cases, and sector. Though some of these reports were available in regular UA reports, the GA4 templates give a starting point that you may alter to meet your needs.
Goals Become Conversions
Conversions in UA are assessed as eCommerce transactions or KPIs. GA4 makes this easier by classifying all occurrences contributing to your business goals as conversions.
What will be changed? Keypoints
The full extent of GA is outlined in Google’s release, which also includes some resources at the bottom – but here’s a quick rundown of some key points to keep in mind before migrating:
In contrast to the previous page-view measurement (which uses events as a custom tracking option), GA4 employs a brand-new form of measurement based on events. You’ll see that the tags have changed if you’re using Google Tag Manager.
You’ll need a new Google Analytics property to save the data in the interface different from what you previously utilized. Some data isn’t available in the same way as Universal Analytics. Don’t be concerned: your data and reports are secure and will not be shared. In GA4, you’ll be able to access the vast bulk of UA data.
Migrating to GA4 requires far more effort than simply “changing the old code to the newer one.” As a result, we recommend implementing GA4 in phases, as various data types are now acquired differently. It covers – but is not limited to – the following things:
- Pageview Tracking
- eCommerce Tracking
- Inter-platform integration
- Event Tracking
We recommend the following steps for a phased approach:
Phase 1: Build a GA4 property to keep track of page views & “standard” events.
Phase 2: Organize KPI-related activities (e.g., form fills).
Phase 3: Create e-commerce events.
Phase 4: Create a new custom tracking system (e.g., non-KPI events, custom dimensions, integrations).
Phase 5: After collecting the data, do a comprehensive GA4 implementation audit and make any necessary improvements.
GA4 will now be functioning alongside UA & available for you to report from once the setup is done.
Before transferring any reporting (including but not limited to custom reporting and dashboarding) from UA to GA4, we recommend gathering data from GA4 for at least a year.
We’ll go through what steps must be completed to finish each phase in the sections below.
Note: If you utilize a plugin for any of your GA trackings (e.g., WordPress, Shopify, etc. ), look into how they may be connected to GA4. There may be a way to run GA4 and UA simultaneously, and some plugins may be restricted.
We suggest hiring your plugin developer about GA4 migration or using Google Tag Manager to test GA4 integration.
Standard tracking (including page views) in GA4
Add a new web property in GA4 to commence your migration. You may do it via the Upgrade Assistant or by going to the admin section and choosing the “+Create New Property” option. Select all of your website’s “standard” event tracking options that apply to you.
- Page views
- Outbound clicks
- Video engagement
- File downloads
If you’re using Google Tag Manager, create a new “GA4 Configuration” tag that fires on all pages. Add the GA4 GTag on all web pages if you’re a hard-coder. Once you finish, you’ll start receiving some primary data in your new GA4 property.
Event tracking in GA4
The former “category, action, label” setup has changed, and events must be re-scoped per your measurement strategy.
Event Name functionally replaces “Event Category,” but you must now decide any granular information (formerly held under label and action) as an event parameter. It gives you additional options. However, creating event tracking now entails more steps than earlier.
- Determine which “core” events you want to keep track of, for example,
- Form submissions
- Web Errors
- Any prior “destination” goals should be documented as events and measured as goals.
- Identify which parameters are required for each core event to differ from them. The parameter name should start with a letter containing letters, numerals, or underscores.
- Click_Type (KPI, Nav, Text Link)
- File_Name (Order_Spreadsheet, Q1_Performance_Update_2020, etc.)
- Form_Name (Contact Us, Job Application)
- Error_Message (page not found, invalid input)
- File_Type (PDF, MP3, DOC)
- Enquiry_Method (Form, Email, Phone)
- For Google Tag Manager:
- Set a new “GA4 Event” tag with the parameter & event names you would like to add.
- Use the same triggers as earlier and any additional triggers needed for new events.
- Follow the GA4 Event Measurement protocol for the hardcoding.
- Add the events you wish to track in Google Analytics (either within admin or in Events > All Events).
- Enter the names of the parameters you wish to track in Google Analytics. You can do it under “manage custom definitions” for all parameters.
- It would help to import all events you want to keep track of into your new GA4 account.
Ecommerce Tracking in GA4
Ecommerce tracking in GA4 is equivalent to Event tracking. However, Google Analytics utilizes particular settings by default, which means data is forwarded to an eCommerce report:
- Work with your programmers to deploy your website’s Google Analytics 4 eCommerce tracking code.
- Tag via GTM:
- Implement the modified dataLayer schema for eCommerce with your developers.
- Create a tag for the event. Event Name: buy and Parameters.
- Create all event tags for any relevant parameters for other relevant eCommerce events (example, view cart, refund).
- Use the same eCommerce triggers as you did previously.
After creating this, you should submit data to the “Monetisation > E-commerce purchases” report.
Now that everything is on track, we suggest taking the following next steps:
- Make sure the data you seek gets to the appropriate places by debugging everything.
- Go to the Google Analytics settings for making changes in the new GA property,
- Set any KPI event as a goal.
- Mark as a conversion in Events>All Events.
- To grasp the difference, compare GA4 data to Universal Analytics data.
- Note future integrations that may require maintenance (databases, dashboarding, marketing platforms, plugins, etc.)
- Make data review points – especially because GA4 is new, and some of this might have changed in the last six months!
- Consider linking GA4 with the rest of the business (reporting, training, etc.)
Frequently Ask Questions
Should I migrate to GA4?
Yes, GA4 is a no-brainer if you have an application or a website and want to compare or analyze the data in one reporting environment rapidly. You can connect your firebase tracking to your GA4 property with a few clicks and begin collecting data.
Is GA4 better than GA universal property?
GA4 collects online and app data in the same property, whereas GA tracks screen views in distinct mobile-specific properties. Remember to account for the additional app traffic when comparing pageview stats across your GA4 property’s web and app metrics.
What are UA and GA4?
In most reports, Universal Analytics emphasizes Total Users (represented as Users), whereas GA4 concentrates on Active Users (also shown as Users). While the word Users seems to be the same in both UA and GA4, the calculations for this measure differ since UA uses Total Users while GA4 uses Active Users.
What will happen to the Universal Analytics data?
Your Google Ads account would remain unaffected until your Universal Analytics property is connected. If your Universal Analytics property & Google Ads accounts are connected, however, Universal Analytics data will discontinue flowing to Google Ads on July 1, 2023.
How to export data from the Universal Analytics property?
There are various options for exporting data from your Universal Analytics property right. You can export individual reports to CSV, TSV for Excel, Excel (XLSX), Google Sheets, PDF, and other formats. To export data, use the Google Analytics Reporting Application programming interface; Google Analytics 360 users may also export to BigQuery.
When will my Universal Analytics property go away?
We’ll announce when current Universal Analytics properties will no longer be available in the coming months. This information will be available in Analytics.
How do you validate all the data?
It would be best to double-check that your website or app is gathering data. The data from your website or app may take up to 48 hours to process in many reports & activities. You may use these reports to validate that you’re gathering data in real-time:
You’ll see data in the Realtime report once you’ve added Analytics and people start using your website or app. The data in the report is viewable by anybody with access to the Google Analytics 4 property.
You may watch events using the DebugView report from a web or a mobile device. Developers who want to ensure they’re gathering data correctly while setting up events & event parameters on a site or application often utilize this report.
To move without losing data, you need someone with specialized GA expertise. You will no longer gather your existing data after Google phases down Universal Analytics (the most recent technique for data processing). Instead, you’ll require a GA4 property.
Due to the apparent differences in data collection, you’ll need to make a lot of revisions and test them before creating a like-for-like clone of your present dataset.
Additionally, because of reporting interface is new, it will take some time to become used to it. A side-by-side migration enables you to go through GA4 while maintaining the ease of Universal Analytics. The sooner you start, the more back data you’ll have before fully migrating to GA4, and the lower your chances of losing data.