As of July 1, 2023, Google has officially made the switch to GA4 (Google Analytics 4) from Universal Analytics (UA). UA will no longer collect any new data. It’s done.
We get it: change is hard. If you’ve poked around GA4 at all, you know there’s a lot that’s different. But it was probably time for these changes to occur. UA has existed as Google’s website data-tracking platform since 2012. In technology years, that’s older than a dinosaur.
Over the past 11 years, how we use websites (both as consumers and as marketers) has changed drastically. GA4 attempts to provide better tracking for mobile website use. Additionally, increasing privacy regulations will only continue to make some of UA’s data harder to collect. It was time to change.
If you’re a small business owner or marketer, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by the switch to GA4. We’ve boiled down the top 3 things you need to know about switching:
- What to do if you missed the deadline
- How to set up GA4
- The biggest difference between UA and GA4
What to Do if You Forgot to Switch to GA4
We’re all human. We’ve all missed important deadlines before. Most recently, I missed the deadline for ordering my daughter’s preschool photos (*facepalm*). Most tragically, I once missed the deadline to register for the Boston Marathon (I cried over that one).
If you missed the deadline for switching to GA4 before Universal Analytics went caput, you might feel like crying too. But all hope is not lost.
Check if you have an auto-created GA4 property
In March 2023, Google began automatically creating GA4 properties for its UA users unless they opted out. Google created the GA4 properties based on current UA account settings. This automatically created GA4 property might not be ideal for your data collection and metrics tracking: some of the reports from UA (particularly the custom ones) don’t easily translate to GA4. But still, the automatic account is better than nothing.
Export old UA data ASAP
Additionally, you can still access old UA data until July 1, 2024, when Google shuts down the old platform for good. So, if you haven’t exported any of your old data, you might want to get on that pronto. Here’s how.
Finally, if you missed the deadline for the switch to GA4, you’ll want to create your GA4 website platform as soon as possible so you can begin tracking data as soon as possible. More on that in the next section.
How to Switch to GA4
Hire an expert to do it. No, this is not a joke. If you’re like me, you know collecting data, reports, and metrics is important for understanding the success or failure of your digital marketing campaigns. And if you’re still like me, the idea of digging into the nitty-gritty of a new platform interface, setting up new reports that have new metrics, and learning where to find everything again, just doesn’t fill your soul with joy.
And especially if you have other marketing tasks that require your attention, outsourcing your switch to GA4 could be a really good idea since setting up GA4 to run optimally will require a significant amount of your time.
Hire an outsourced marketing or SEO expert to do the grunt work for you – after communicating to them what reports and metrics you need. Have them give you a tutorial on how to use the new platform and where to find the reports you need. It’ll save you time and maybe even some sanity.
The Biggest Difference Between GA4 and UA
Aside from the obvious interface changes, the biggest difference between GA4 and UA is the type of data GA4 tracks.
In UA, Google Analytics tracked sessions and page views. GA4 now tracks events. In GA4, any interaction with your website is considered “an event.” You can track the same things in GA4 as in UA, but you need to translate your old reports into GA4 terms. E.g., you can still track “page views,” but you need to set that up as a type of event with specific parameters.
This does allow GA4 to be configured more specifically to your website. But, it also requires more planning and setup than UA. Read more about this from an SEO expert at Moz.
If you don’t care too much about the difference between events and sessions, here’s an article we wrote a few months ago about the most important GA4 metrics and reports for small businesses.
Switch to GA4 with Ingenium
Gathering relevant website data and metrics is vital to the success of your digital marketing endeavors. Your business needs up-to-date information in order to achieve your marketing goals and avoid wasting time and money. So making the switch to GA4? It’s necessary.
If switching to GA4 has left you feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, outsource the work. Let one of the marketing experts at Ingenium take this task off your plate. We will work with you to understand what reports, data, and metrics you need so the transition is as smooth as possible.
Don’t let this change stress you out or cause your marketing to be less than effective. Let’s talk!