Google Analytics 4 is ready to replace the latest version, Universal Analytics or UA. So, in the next marketing phase, marketers will be using GA4. It is an important update for all marketing data and is migrated to avoid any loss or breach.
The migration of data to GA4 will be a long time taking process. It might also become a tedious task for marketers to do it. But it is important to maintain competitiveness in the constantly growing digital marketing activities.
Purpose of Migrating Data to Google Analytics 4
Many marketers used Universal Analytics (UA) to install and showcase numbers of visitors. However, UA’s dominance is reducing with the changing marketing landscape and Google’s algorithms. It will no longer be supporting businesses with their needs. This will change browsing habits for users, and they will visit the website to find information or make a purchase directly. There is also more emphasis on privacy as businesses and customers lean towards more privacy options.
More factors show UA gaps are hindering website performance. And marketers need to migrate to GA4 as quickly as possible. So, the issues are:
- UA struggles to track users using apps and websites. Marketers find it hard to get a unified view of customers and visitors.
- Data privacy laws obstruct the effectiveness of UA. Due to this, it is restricted to region-wise websites.
- Ad and cookie blockers find it hard for UA to collect accurate data. This leads to creating gaps in data analytics reporting.
By keeping these in mind, marketers can determine why there’s been a decline in Universal Analytics users. Also, they can view the analytics report to determine the reason for mitigating GA4. Google has created this opportunity to build a new analytics platform.
However, migration from UA can be tough for marketers and brands. Despite being so, they need to do it to match the pace of digital transformation of business and customers’ high demand.
One of the best things for business owners and marketers with GA4 will be that they will have the power to view exact historical data. That’s why making migration is essential.
Stay Aware of Key Changes Before Migrating
Here are some core things to note before migrating to Google Analytics 4.
- GA4 uses new types of measurement based on events as a custom tracking option
- Google Tag Manager is different
- Need new Google Analytics properties to store data
- Different interface from the UA
- Some data might not exist similarly in the Universal Analytics
Despite these pointers, data and reporting are much safer than UA. The new platform allows data to stay under controlled access and will be lost. Most data marketers acquire from UA will be easily available in GA4.
Migration to Google Analytics 4 Phases
Migrating to GA4 is a lot more work. It is due to new technology, algorithms, and parameters it supports. Marketers approaching a GA4 migration in phases will be easy as different data types will be collected and stored differently.
Here are the phases for migrating to GA4.
Phase 1: Create GA4 Property and Launch
At the beginning of the migration, marketers need to create new GA4 properties and launch them. These properties will not import historical data from UA but will get all information. This means that the property will track traffic data from its creation and will keep gathering new data.
The sooner marketers create it; the sooner they will have data in the GA4 property. Marketers will use these to create the new property:
- Create the new GA4 property
- Add the new GA4 tracking tag to the website.
They can do it easily by using Google Tag Manager. After the deployment, check the new property to ensure traffic data is gathered in the property.
Phase 2: List Out Key Data
New analytics properties do not get specific tracking items. But these are some common items marketers need to add to the list to track:
- Custom Metrics
- Product Link Connections
Once these have been on the list, marketers must evaluate the important areas to track. By tracking, they can identify the gaps that might exist. And overcome them with some strong strategic actions.
Remember to track and create a reporting view. The views will be used with GA4 and help marketers understand what is required to add to the list and recreate them in the GA4 property.
Phase 3: Start Migrating Every Item to GA4
After marketers have listed the items in GA4, here are the most common items and some tips for setting them.
Events in GA4 are similar to the UA setup. But marketers may need to align the tagging up a new one for GA4 conversions. Some events must have been manually set in the past. However, in GA4, marketers can do it automatically. It leads to a faster and more accurate process.
To begin with, marketers must check the automated conversions under tracking in the GA4 property. There is no need to recreate events that Google has already created in UA. This way, marketers can migrate event data automatically, track their codes after adding, and use Google Tag Manager.
In GA4, conversions are in place of goals. They are based on events. So when migrating the existing UA conversions to GA4, marketers must begin with the event-based one. It is because they are similar to the original goal in UA.
Once the events are aligned in GA4 and marked as conversions, begin with destination-based and engagement scores. For that, marketers can add conversions to GA4 through the interface or use code.
Aligning custom metrics is a two-step process. First, it requires a setup with the interface and the code. Second, the existing UA custom metrics tags need migration to GA4 with the help of codes. However, marketers will first require to set up the metrics in the GA4 property interface.
Creating metrics and reports is one of the biggest benefits of GA4. Marketers can do it automatically, getting data directly from the website after precise filters. Also creating custom events and reports is also essential in the Google Analytics 4 platform. The simplest and most effective option is to get familiarized with the platform’s default reports.
Phase 4: Set Up Any Integrations
Aligning Google integrations ensures the platform is customized to the business needs. Marketers must review the integrations marketers have used with UA before associating them with GA4. The major integrations in this step include Google Optimize, Google Ads, Ad Exchange, AdSense, and MerchantCentre.
Phase 5: Plan to Save Historical Data
In this step, marketers need to plan to safeguard and store historical data. They need to do this to understand how it will be going to be and it will be protected from data breaches. For data stored in Universal Analytics, marketers need to migrate all data soon as Google plans to delete all data in December 2024. For GA4, marketers can select how long Google can retain data before it gets deleted.
Post-Migration Steps in Google Analytics 4
Here are the last steps to go ahead with migrating data to GA4.
- Marketers need to debug data and ensure that they to the right places in the GA4 platform
- Assess all Google Analytics settings for new GA property
- Enable KPI events
- Conduct a comparison of the data in GA4 to the data in UA to understand the differen
- View integrations that need updating in the future. For instance, dashboards, marketing platforms, databases, and plugins.
- Create data review points
- Plan how to integrate GA4 with the broader business through reporting
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