What Businesses Need to Know about Making the Switch to Google Analytics 4
On July 1, Google will shut down the standard version of Universal Analytics (UA), the most widely used marketing analytics tool in internet history. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will take its place. According to data from BuiltWith.com, over 28 million sites were still using UA as of June 21 and only 11 million were using GA4. Christina Dees with McComm Group, Inc. answered some questions for the Chamber to help businesses who have still not made the switch.
What advice can you give to business owners about the importance of using analytics?
Website analytics provide insights and data that can be used to create a better user experience for your visitors. Analytics can help you better understand your customers and their behaviors.
Here is an example of how to translate Google Analytics data into a simple way to improve your web site. When the analytics show that users are frequently visiting an internal page – a products page or contact page – nearly as much as the home page, be sure you are cross-promoting key messages about important news like sales, new products, awards or hiring opportunities on those pages, too. The faster and easier it is for someone to find the information on your site, the more likely they are to take action and to return.
What is GA4 and how is it different from Universal Analytics?
GA4 is simply a new version of UA, with updated features and tracking capabilities to keep up with evolving privacy policies and web usage. With many privacy polices restricting the types of cookies that can be used for tracking, GA4 bases its tracking on using first-party cookies - such as User IDs, Google account IDs, and device IDs. GA4 can combine web and app reporting in the Google Analytics platform.
One of the most important new features is that GA4 allows full reporting across devices. People often switch devices or profiles as they interact with your business and website. An example is when you find information about a topic on your smart phone, but want to read more information so you switch to your tablet to finish the article. With UA, your data reports showed two different users. With GA4, the reports will show one user, giving you a fuller picture of who is actually visiting your site.
Can both be used at the same time?
Yes. You can use both UA and GA4 at the same time up until July 1, 2023. After that, the UA code will stop tracking on all websites. If you have not implemented GA4 by July 1, your site will stop tracking data until you do.
How can business owners migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4?
Business owners need to talk to with their web developers and designers who have access to both their analytics and their website. You will need to see if a GA4 property has already been created for your site or not to determine the best course of action. “Property” is Google’s term for this tool for each specific site.
Is the process difficult?
Making the switch is quite easy and can be done quickly. In fact, Google has started creating basic GA4 property for many of the websites who have not made a switch.
Can you transfer data from UA to GA4?
Since the tracking styles are different from UA to GA4, you cannot transfer your previously collected UA data to GA4. Your GA4 data will start from the day you create and implement your GA4 property.
After July 1, will users be able to view or archive their historical data in Universal Analytics?
You will still be able to see your previously processed data for about six months after UA expires. After that, you will not be able to see your historical data. Business owners should export as much of their historical data as they can to be able to look at past metrics; but remember, the data from UA and GA4 will not be apples to apples in reporting.
Have you helped a lot of clients switch over already?
We have already switched all of our active clients to GA4, and have been running UA simultaneously to best understand the difference in tracking.