Google Analytics 4: Why you shouldn’t wait to migrate

Another directive has been cast down from our internet overlords: Google has announced it will be turning off Google Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023 and replacing it with Google Analytics 4, or GA4. This means any marketers that are currently tracking website stats using Google Universal Analytics properties will need to convert their account to GA4 beforehand to ensure a smooth transition.

What is GA4? 

GA4 is the newest analytics platform from Google that brings the latest advancements in data processing to the web. Specifically, it provides us with:

  1. More accurate reporting across all delivery channels
  2. Exclusive features previously only accessible to premium members, such as BigQuery data stores
  3. Increased limits on the volume of data being collected
  4. Automated event tracking, features previously only available in Google Tag Manager

GA4 was introduced on October 14, 2020, so if you created your Google Analytics property after that date, you’re likely already using GA4. Any properties created prior to October 12, 2020 will need to be migrated. Also, you can check your property ID to confirm what platform you’re currently using:

  • Universal Analytics property IDs start with UA and end with a number (UA-XXXXXXXXX-1).
  • Google Analytics 4 property IDs have only numbers (XXXXXXXXX).

What happens if I do not migrate to GA4?

At first, nothing will happen as Universal Analytics will continue to record data up until July 1, 2023. If you’re using the paid version of Google Analytics (known as Google Analytics 360), these properties will stop processing new hits on October 1, 2023. We highly suggest exporting your historical data before upgrading.

What happens to my Universal Analytics data?

After July 1, 2023, you will only be able to view historical reports of previously processed data in Universal Analytics for up to six months. While historical data cannot be migrated from Universal Analytics to GA4, we you can dual-tag both properties on your site.

Why is historical data so important? 

There are a myriad of reasons why you should preserve your website’s historical data, but primarily it allows you to set a benchmark for the future developments of the site which in turn helps you to optimize your content for growth. By looking back, you can see where content or backend adjustments need to be made in order to increase traffic and achieve your inbound marketing goals.

Will my goals, filters, events, and reports be transferred?

Right now when you upgrade to a GA4 account, only the property details are transferred which means that none of the property configurations or customizations are moved over. This will be a manual process of evaluating the Universal Analytics account for configurations and mapping these to the new GA4 account. Another reason why it’s important to start early to ensure that the account is completely set up before July 2023.

What is our upgrade process?

For clients who are using Universal Analytics for their website tracking, here’s a look at the steps we’re taking now to set their sites up for success:

  1. Understand the level of effort required and provide a quote to our clients
  2. Perform an analytics audit and document findings
  3. Review findings to ensure that everything has been uncovered in our audit
  4. Tag in our management team and analytics team to implement the update
  5. Run quality checks, tests, and final review

What this means for your business

First, don’t panic. We know this is a lot to process. Second, start the process of migrating your Universal Analytics property to GA4 before July 2023 to ensure that there is at minimum a year’s worth of data collected. Migrating now will also give you more time to familiarize yourself with the new features on the platform. This is not the time to procrastinate. And as always, we’re here to help.

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