Why You Need to Switch Universal Analytics to a Google Analytics 4 Soon

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By Scott Rees

Google Analytics 4

In October 2020 Google announced and released their new analytics platform Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Providing the opportunity of predictive insights, deeper integration with other Google tools and the ability to measure websites and applications on iOS & Android all within the same Analytics property.

In March Google announced that from the 1st of July 2023, its current analytic platform, Google Universal Analytics (UA) would no longer process data, meaning as of May 2022 UA will be a sunset product in 13 months. For those marketing and business teams who rely on website performance tracking, upgrading to GA4 needs to start now, so that there is rich data for you to use, with at least a year’s comparison of data available.

 

Why upgrade from Google Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

With the new GA4 platform, which has been built from scratch rather than an upgraded modification, none of the data in your current UA platform can be transferred to GA4. As the UA platform will stop recording data on 1 July 2023, the sooner you migrate your Google Analytics from UA to GA4 the more historical data you will have contained in the GA4 platform.

At the time of writing this article, Google hasn’t announced when it will turn off UA, just that it will stop recording from 1 July 2023.

 

What are the Pros of GA4

GA4 is designed with your business goals in mind — like driving sales, conversions, generating leads or connecting online and offline customer engagement. GA4 is also built for simplicity with a flexible data model and more customisations and automation available.

GA4 consists of new components that allow its system to continuously adapt to the advancing digital world. Some of the new elements include:

  1. Ability to track websites and mobile apps at the same property level to better understand content consumption and user flow across multiple devices.

  2. A more customisable data model to fulfil the needs of individual organisations, with the introduction of the Explorations section (custom reports section) that is far more powerful than the custom report building capabilities of UA.

  3. A more data-driven attribution that tracks more than just the last click model. This helps you understand how your marketing activities collectively influence your conversions.

  4. Machine learning generates sophisticated predictive information about user behaviour and conversions of users that are likely to purchase or churn to help you come up with better marketing decisions.

Ultimately, GA4 is here to assist you in having a more visual reporting structure and more sophisticated data to help you understand your users and gear up solutions and marketing strategy to generate bigger conversions — whether it be eCommerce goals or non-monetary values (phone calls, emails, sign-ups, and many more).

 

Why can’t we migrate the UA data to GA4?

With GA4 being developed from a clean sheet of paper approach, what is recorded as a visit to your site and how it is recorded will be different. For example, UA records all visits, and those who visited and left the site without visiting another page were categorised as a Bounce. Whereas in GA4, only visits of “engaged” users are recorded. A “visit” event in GA4 means a site user needs to be “engaged” on the first page by either staying on the page for over 10 seconds, scrolling the page, clicking on a link or visiting another page in the site. While this will have positive impacts on Bounce Rates going forward, it also means that visit counts will change and the data currently in your UA platform cannot be transferred to GA4.

 

The Clock Is Ticking To Upgrade To GA4

With only 13 months until UA stops recording, the sooner you activate your GA4 account the more historical data it will contain. GA4 is able to run in parallel with UA for website traffic, so there are no issues in upgrading to GA4 now. The challenge is your eCommerce platform data. Due to the criteria of GA4, sales data can only be sent to either UA or GA4, not both, so there will have to be a hard switchover between UA and GA4 for your sales recording. Fastrack is working with all the major hotel booking engine eCommerce platforms to ascertain their preparedness for switching from a UA to GA4 data feed.

 

eCommerce GA4 Upgrade Consideration

For businesses with eCommerce tracking in Google UA, the upgrade to GA4 needs to take a structured upgrade process, as your eCommerce vendor will need to implement technical changes. Fastrack is working with many accommodation booking engine vendors to ascertain their preparedness for implementation of the GA4 tracking code on their eCommerce platform.

The importance of the eCommerce vendor being ready is while UA & GA4 can operate in parallel for website traffic data, there can only be one eCommerce data source - either UA or GA4. This means to have the year on year comparison of eCommerce results, the switch over timing of the eCommerce tracking will be critical.

 

Important Dates for Google Analytics 4

  • 31 May 2022 - Recommended the last date to have Google Analytics (GA4) set up to ensure you have access to year-on-year reporting. This gives you time to correct any issues and ensure all reporting is correct from 1 July 2022. ​If you have not migrated to Google Analytics 4 by this date, you will run the risk of having no year-on-year data from 1 July 2023.
  • 30 June 2022 - The last day to ensure you have set up GA4 with eCommerce data to ensure you have YoY data collected in GA4 from 1 July 2023.​ Consider backing up your UA data.
  • 1 July 2023 - UA Google Analytics will stop collecting data.

 

 

How We Can Help You

If you are feeling overwhelmed with this technical piece of upgrading - do not worry. Fastrack Digital can help you with your upgrade now. We are an official Google Partner and have been working closely with Google to ensure we are trained and fully prepared to assist with the scoping and implementation of GA4 migrations.

For a free scoping session with Fastrack Digital's Analytics specialists, contact us today, leave your details, and we’ll be in touch.

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