Google announced a compulsory shift from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Google Analytics will stop processing data starting from July 2023. So officially June 2023 is the last month for you to make the move. You need to act quickly!
Tracking data was not always easy for many of you out there. And we understand that very well. Technical knowledge takes years to build up. And when suddenly a change is required on technical grounds, it becomes difficult for many to adapt to the change so easily.
Google Analytics 4 has a different layout compared to GA3. It might seem confusing for many. But to make it a bit easier to understand, we can walk you through how you can make the shift from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.
So why this change from UA to GA4? Let us help you understand this before you start the GA4 migration process.
The latest version of Google Analytics is GA4. Google Analytics 4 tracking benefits beyond traffic. It focuses on other customer metrics on different platforms.
It tracks the website and the app both. Because it makes use of machine learning, it is able to provide in-depth data on what is being tracked.
Google Analytics 4 provides track keeping in mind the customer’s privacy first. Google Analytics 4 is an advanced version of Google Analytics, providing cross-channel AI-based analytics data to the user.
Migrating to Google Analytics 4 is a compulsory shift. Changes have been the core reason that Google finds Universal Analytics outdated now.
It has been over a decade now since UA is being used, and with so much happening in the world of the internet, UA does not provide all the necessary data for many businesses.
Tracking is a necessity to understand how your website, and finally your business is working. Users now see the internet with a different pair of eyes, in comparison to what they saw a decade ago.
A change in Google Analytics was necessary to keep up with user expectations and business growth. Seeing the limitations of UA, Google Analytics 4 was announced.
The earlier version failed to track the apps for businesses. Reporting gaps were noticed due to the cookie section on the website. Due to UA affecting the privacy laws in countries like Italy and France, it was banned.
This is where Google decided to come up with GA4 for a rich user experience in terms of more accurate reporting across multiple channels and with a process of collecting data respecting privacy policies.
Follow the below steps to migrate to Google Analytics 4.
To help you further, here is a guide by Google that assists beginners to migrate to GA4.
Tip – Do it at the earliest, do not wait until the last moment.
Step 1: Evaluate your Universal Analytics Account
Before you make the big shift, evaluate and take note of the current events being tracked currently in UA. Even if you think certain things will not be important, we suggest you take note of those events too.
Google Analytics does have a setup wizard for GA4, but it might be complicated, as things might get missed out (problems that many have faced) while using the wizard.
Step 2: Set Up the GA4 Account
Assuming that you already have a Universal Analytics (UA) account, the GA4 setup assistant will be helpful.
1. Select the property you need to migrate to GA4.
2. Go to the settings icon as shown in the image below.
3. Select GA4 setup assistant under the ‘Admin’ section.
4. Connect an existing UA property or create a new GA4 property. It is possible to collect data using the same tag if you are using the latest version of the gtag.js script. Otherwise, you need to create a new GA4 property.
5. Click on ‘Get Started’ under the create property section. Refer to the second image below.
6. A setup assistant will pop up (Refer to the third image below). Read it carefully before you move ahead to create your property.
7. Add all the required information while creating the property. Refer to image 4 for the details.
Note: It is mentioned in the setup assistant that ‘Tag customisations cannot be migrated’. Read here how this will affect your data.
Step 3: Start Migrating the Events that were used in UA
As you have already noted which metrics you need to migrate to GA4, you will need to do them one by one.
Start with migrating the events to GA4. Initially, you will see that many events must have migrated to the new GA4 property. But there are more chances that not everything is carried forward.
You can check the events being tracked under the ‘Behaviour section’.
In this step, you need to migrate those events that have not migrated to GA4.
Step 4: Start Migrating the Goals (Conversions in GA4)
GA4 refers to goals as ‘Conversion’ now. You can automatically migrate the UA goals to GA4. We suggest that you start doing it one at a time. ([UA→GA4] Map Universal Analytics goals to Google Analytics 4 conversions).
Using the above guide by Google, you will be able to migrate event-based goals, destination goals, engagement goals and goals from multiple views too.
Step 5: Start Migrating the User to GA4
You need to be very attentive when migrating the UA users to the Google Analytics 4 property. You will follow many articles online that show how to migrate users to GA 4. We advise you to follow Google’s user migration guide.
Just follow the steps mentioned in the guide one at a time to avoid confusion.
Step 6: Start Migrating the Audiences to GA4
With GA4, you can now configure conversions for both tracking and advertising purposes. To ensure a smooth transition when UA properties cease tracking in 2023, it’s essential to set up your audiences before July 1.
This will enable you to update your Google Ads campaigns effectively.
Identify the audiences in your Univarsal Analytics list. This needs to be done at the property level. Those with audience-type GA will need to be created again in Google Analytics 4.
Step 7: Do a Thorough Check and Review
Apart from those mentioned above the migration process to Google Analytics 4 involves everything that you were tracking in UA. You need to make sure all the data is moved completely and not partially.
If you are tracking Google Ads data, you can migrate to GA4 using this Google assistance link.
E-commerce tracking data will also need to be moved properly using the steps provided in Google’s GA4 e-commerce guide.
Step 8: Fix the Migration Date
Before you can make a complete shift from UA to GA4, Google Analytics provides you with the option to collect data simultaneously at one time in UA and in GA4.
By doing this, you can compare the analytics data in both properties, UA and GA4, to understand how Google Analytics 4 differs from Universal Analytics.
While doing this, you need to mention the final migration date, from which Google Analytics will only collect data for Google Analytics 4. (June 30, 2023, is the last date)
Step 9: UA Data is Getting Deleted from July 2024 – Archive UA Data!
Most of the business owners will need the previous data from UA for future reference. Just to let you know, Universal Analytics will be deleted from July 2024. Yes! You read that right. UA’s previous data is completely going to be deleted.
Why is Google doing this? Well, even we cannot answer your question. Even we do not think previous data is going to harm Google in any way.
But to jump quickly to what needs to be done is ‘Archive your UA data’. Under the UA interface, you are able to pull the original month and the comparison month data at a time. You then need to download the CSV file.
A much quicker way would be to use the Google Analytics API. Refer GA spreadsheet add-on guide for details. In this too we would advise you to take smaller reports, such that you do not face sampling issues for the property.
You do not need to go around searching the internet for Google Analytics 4 migration videos. We got the links ready for you. The bonus here is GA4 migration walkthrough videos by Google.
Some Common Questions Answered
Yes, they can. Here is an assistant guide by Google. But we never recommend using this automatic process, and so does Google.
Here is what Google has to say in this regard:
This generally happens when you have automatically migrated to Google Analytics 4. Here is what Google thinks you should do if there is no data in your GA4 property.
Google Analytics 4 has been considered to be more on the technical side. Many users are finding it difficult to make this shift from UA to GA4.
Well, initially every change seems difficult. What we suggest is to take one step at a time and not try to do everything in one go. Double-check the changes you make and then move to the next step.
We hope this article has helped you somewhere to understand how GA4 migration can be done. Just a reminder again, do not wait for the last date, start the process now!