Here’s why you need to set up Google Analytics 4 ASAP

Google has announced they will begin sunsetting Universal Analytics (UA) in June 2023 and adopting Google Analytics 4 (GA4) across their analytics platform.

Universal Analytics (UA) has been the standard analytics tool for years

It helps track and measure user behaviour online and optimise websites accordingly. 

But there’s a new kid on the block.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4), launched in 2020 and it is Google’s response to increasing privacy for its billions of users.

But if you think GA4 is a simple update to your UA account, you’re wrong. 

You need to take a planned & strategic approach to migrating your UA to GA4 account, starting now.

What are the most useful differences between UA vs. GA4?  

  1. Privacy

GA4 was built with privacy in mind. There are some new features available within GA4 that better anonymize user data and some of the data is accessible for shorter periods of time compared to UA. GA4 leverages first-party Cookies to be GDPR compliant, but Google is also incorporating machine learning to predict data and fill the gaps in a cookie-less future.

  1. Measurement

UA measures pageviews/sessions and is session based. This means that pageviews, events, and transactions are measured as page hits, event hits, ecommerce hits, and social interaction hits.

GA4 uses events/parameters for measurement. So, every pageview, transaction or other actions are counted as events. Simply put, this is way more useful because events give us more data. For example, a pageview as an event would have the title of the page, user location, browser and device, whereas in UA, this data would not be collected. 

  1. Engagement

There are some new engagement metrics that are able to more accurately report on user engagement compared to what is available in UA. This includes engaged sessions, engagement rate, engaged sessions per user and average engagement time. These are much more nuanced measurements than the ole’ “session duration” or “bounce rate” in UA, as they combine time and action into a single, simplified metric.

  1. Data Visualisation 

GA4 comes with the option to analyse your data in a more visual way. Plus there are built-in templates in the analysis section that provide some powerful insights into user behaviour. This is similar to User Behaviour flow in UA, but can be a lot more powerful and help tell a powerful story to people who aren’t as familiar with the data or the platform. 

Ready to make the transition? Here are some tips to make sure your GA4 property is set up correctly.

If you were holding off migrating, it's time to start planning and learning the new version of Google Analytics. Since UA is being phased out, you will need to transition to GA4 before June 2023, or risk losing data.

If you transition as soon as possible, this will give you at least a year or so of historical data as GA4 won't import UA data, and you will only be able to access previously processed data in UA for six months after UA has been phased out. 

  • Firstly, check if you already have a GA4 property.

  • If you don’t  have a GA4 property, please implement this. If you are using Google Tag Manager, follow these steps. If you already have a GA4 property, continue with the below steps.

  • To see if GA4 is actually working, check the real time report, and make sure you are tracking data. 

  • Next, implement your conversion tracking in GA4. Audit your current conversions and goals in UA, and make a list of the conversions you want to set up in GA4. 

  • Please export your historical reports from UA so you don’t lose all your data.

  • If your organisation relies on year-on-year comparison, it would be best to transition to GA4 as soon as possible, so you can build up a year of historical data.

  • Make sure to upskill and educate staff members who need access to analytics are up to date on how GA4 works. 

Digital marketing is dynamic and ever-changing - that’s part of the exciting potential of digital! So instead of seeing Google’s changes as a disruption to your digital marketing efforts, use this as a chance to refine your strategy. 
As a digital-first agency, we’re seeing every day how digital can help non-profits get better results and increase their impact with data-driven strategy. If you want to get ahead of the curve or need support in transitioning your account, let us know today.