17 May Are You Prepared for Google Analytics 4?
Google Analytics 4 Replaces Universal Analytics Soon!
Overview of GA4
Do you use Google Analytics to track your customer activity? If so, are you using Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) or Google Analytics 4 (GA4)? If you’re on UA, it’s time to pay attention.
On July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will stop collecting data and GA4 will take over. Though GA4 has been available for over two years, many UA users haven’t yet set themselves up on GA4. (Maybe you saw our blog on GA4 last year and already made the switch. If so, you’re in good shape!) While Google will auto-migrate all remaining UA properties and their configurations into GA4, users cannot expect to see directly comparable data points and metrics in GA4.
While the change is coming whether we’re ready or not, it’s helpful to know that after July 1, UA will remain available for a period to access historical information. However, that past information will not be transferred into your GA4 property.
This sounds like a major inconvenience, but there is an upside. GA4 offers better customer tracking across web and app platforms, helping you be a more savvy marketer. GA4 achieves this while simultaneously offering compliance with consumer privacy protection regulations. For instance, GA4 no longer relies on 3rd party cookies to track individuals across websites. Instead, it relies on AI and data modeling to fill in any gaps created by the elimination of cookie usage.
Google Analytics: Background
UA has been Google’s analytics property for over 10 years, so if you’ve delved into the website analytics game, you’ve probably already invested time in UA. While UA has been around longer, GA4 isn’t brand new. Google debuted GA4 in October 2020, at which time GA4 became the default property for all new Analytics accounts.
If your Analytics property was set up after October 2020, it’s likely you’re already using GA4. However, we recommend you verify this. A quick way to check is to look at your property numbers in Google Analytics. If it starts with UA, you’re on Universal Analytics. If the code is entirely numerical, you’re on GA4.
Differences between UA and GA4
One of the biggest differences touted by Google is that GA4 makes it possible to track users across platforms, while UA does not offer this capability.
While UA tracks events by hits to sites, GA4 expands the definition of events to include far more data points. By increasing the types and quantities of data points, GA4 enables users to explore their visitor activity more fully. Here are a few of the questions that GA4 metrics can help you answer:
- How many people are here for the first time?
- Who scrolls through at least 90% of the page?
- What are people searching for within the site?
- Who is watching your embedded YouTube videos? How long are they watching?
By collecting extensive data points and unifying them by user, GA4 enables marketers to track visitors through the know-like-trust conversion funnel. User activity is tracked over time and multiple visits to understand the longer view of a customer’s journey.
GA4 expands the usefulness of analytics by integrating Google’s AI to analyze activity and generate models to predict customer behavior.
New Features on GA4
The ability to create highly customizable reports has the potential to empower business owners and marketers to understand and target their audiences even more effectively.
Users can segment audiences based on several factors, including:
- Activity (e.g. a purchase, an add to cart)
- Events (e.g. all app purchases on, all website abandoned carts)
- Sessions (e.g. all sessions that originated from a specific ad campaign)
- Demographics (e.g. gender, location)
- Technology (e.g. iOS, Android, Windows)
How to Prepare
With all this customization comes a short-term downside. Early adopters report that GA4 has a steep learning curve. Because the data logic is different, GA4 is not directly comparable to UA. You’ll need to spend time learning the new dashboard, preset reports, and customization options.
We recommend running UA and GA4 simultaneously while it’s still possible so you can compare the properties. If your schedule allows for it, this is probably the best way to acquaint yourself with how your UA information shows up in GA4. Use Google’s Setup Assistant Wizard to transition your configurations and adjust when necessary to accommodate the differing data logic of GA4. Google strongly recommends manual migration over relying on auto-migration, which might make different choices than you would, given the different structures in GA4.
Where Can I learn more?
Google’s Analytics Help Center provides expanded information on the functions and details of GA4. We’ve included a few of the articles we found most helpful here:
We’d love to hear from you. Have you already switched to GA4? Do you have time to make the change yourself? If you haven’t made the switch, we can help! Stitchcraft Marketing is a marketing agency of crafting experts. We customize every program to showcase your brand, engage your customer base, and generate sales in a way that is nothing less than magical. If you’d like to work with us, contact us today to get started!