Google Analytics 4 is the next generation of Google’s analytics platform, set to replace Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023. Standard Universal Analytics properties will not process new data. Meaning, it is important for users to make the GA4 migration now. Fortunately, switching from UA to GA4 is simple. The first step in the migration to GA4 is understanding what it is and how to properly prepare for it.
Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics
GA4 and UA measure conversions in different ways. UA had users define a goal that would consider a user action to be a conversion. Similarly, users define conversion events in GA4, which register a conversion each time an event is triggered.
Meaning, conversion count differs between the two. In UA, only one conversion is counted for each goal. GA4, on the other hand, counts every instance of a conversion event. This is true even if the same GA4 conversion event records in the same session.
UA supported five types of conversion goals, but GA4 only supports one type of conversion events. This means it may not be possible to simply duplicate UA goal types when making the switch to GA4.
Other changes GA4 brings is in a new user type: Active Users. This brings user metrics from two to three — Total, Active, and New Users. The Active Users metric is now the primary user metric in GA4. It is the number of distinct users who visited your website or application.
The final large change coming to GA4 comes in Event metrics changes. Events in UA had their own Category, Action and Label. However, GA4 events do not contain these attributes. Instead, GA4 defines all actions as events, and events differentiate by the parameter values that they collect.
How to prepare for the GA4 migration
The deadline is coming fast. How can you prepare for the GA4 migration from a UA property? The process requires several steps, first being to audit your existing UA property.
The first step is deciding what tags you want to migrate and other tags you want to add. When you complete the audit, export your existing UA data to compare to GA4. Train your team in how to use it and how it differs from UA once the GA4 migration completes.
Audit your current UA property
Auditing your Universal Analytics property looks different depending on if you are using a gtag.js or an analytics.js UA property. Use this time to decide what tags you want to migrate and decide what tags you want to add.
If you are currently using analytics.js for your UA property, you will need to add the gtag.js snippet in order to create a new GA4 property. The biggest difference between the two is that the analytics.js code has a separate “send pageview” call. In contrast, the gtag.js code automatically collects the pageview as an event sent along with the “config” directive.
In addition, the gtag.js snippet for a GA4 property shares similar structure to UA. The only difference is GA4 property IDs have the “G-XXXXXXXX” format vs the “UA-XXXXXXXX” format in Universal Analytics.
Export UA data
Universal Analytics will be the only source for historical data after the GA4 deadline. Meaning, you should export your data before making the switch. Have a plan for organizing the UA data when comparing to the new GA4 data collection before exporting.
Export data yourself by selecting the report you want to export along with the format. Choose a format that will make it easy for you to compare future GA4 data with. Using the Google Analytics Google Sheets add-on can export your data from GA directly to Google Sheets. In addition, GA provides several APIs for data access. This is a great resource if you want a more hands-on method customizing what data you need.
Train your team in GA4
GA4 is a new way of gathering reporting analytics, and differs from UA in a variety of ways. It is important to familiarize your team on how the platforms differ and get the most of your reporting data. Google offers a GA4 account training guide that can help your team find answers to questions they may have regarding the new platform, along with tools such as an Analytics Demo Account, which allows a user to look at real data and experiment with new GA4 features and changes.
Google’s Analytics YouTube Channel also offers videos on a number of account setup and data analysis topics. Help you and your team feel confident when making the switch!
Futurety offers a basic guide on switching from UA to GA4, an enhanced conversion setup process, previous goals, audiences, eCommerce measurements and adding account users based on UA views.We also have guides on how to make the switch with Google Tag Manager to ensure that your new GA4 events match your previous UA tags, and to make sure that new event tags are tracking correctly.
Let Futurety help you with the migration to GA4
Futurety makes it easy to switch to GA4! The deadline to switch is not until July 1, but switching now means months worth of data.
Our experts put hours into preparing for the GA4 migration. We help people make the switch and training clients on how to use it. Futurety offers guides on setting up a new GA4 property, and how to make the switch from UA with Google Tag Manager.