When you think of all the tools in your business toolbox, undoubtedly, your business website is way up there in terms of importance. And being the savvy business owner you are, you don’t view your website as a static, unchanging portrait that simply smiles and looks pretty.
You know that you can learn a ton of information about your potential customers and make decisions about how to reach and convert them more effectively through Google Analytics. You do this all for the love of our business and your goals to make it bigger and better. In short, you would feel lost without it.
And then Google landed in your inbox to let you know things were getting changed up, just when you thought you sort of knew what you were doing.
We feel you! It is never a good sign when Google sends you an email explaining how they are about to pull the data-mining rug right out from underneath you. It’s especially eye-rolling when you read and re-read the email and are nowhere near understanding what is actually happening to a tool you rely on heavily to support your business.
But don’t worry! In the wise words of the British government circa 1939, Keep Calm and Carry On. Plus, Spring Insight has your back with what you actually need to know and do to make a migration to the new (and Google is claiming improved!) Google Analytics 4.
Throughout the month, Spring Insight is sharing what you need to do to your website now (in early Q3) to set your business up for a strong finish to the year. In the first article, we dove into increasing traffic to your website. The second article covered how to convert those visitors to customers more consistently. Migrating your website to Google Analytics 4 is also a highly recommended part of that process and the topic of this third installment.
What Is Universal Analytics?
Ok, let’s back up just a minute. Not everyone hangs on Google’s every last word so let’s give a bit of background. Google has announced that they will be sunsetting Universal Analytics. Even the savviest of you might ask yourself, “what is Universal Analytics?” Basically, the tool that you think of now as Google Analytics is actually called Universal Analytics and it is going away. As I might say to my teenager, the 50th time she leaves her bookbag strewn around the living room, it is kind of a big deal.
Coming Soon: Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
Google is doing a new rollout with their analytics platform, Google Analytics. As of July 1, 2023, Universal Analytics will go away to make way for their latest iteration: Google Analytics 4 (GA4). At that time, you must be set up on GA4 or lose all access to view your analytics or draw in any new data.
With GA4, Google tells us that you can expect the following improvements:
- Better data collection and attribution for Google campaigns
- Increased user privacy for greater brand credibility and audience trust
- More valuable data for your campaigns
How to Migrate Your Site to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 will operate in very different ways. Making the switch may not be as simple as you think, especially if you have a heavy reliance on particular reports and performance indicators. To make the switch as seamless as possible, we recommend taking five steps (and starting the transition as soon as possible).
Step 1: Take stock of what you are currently doing in Universal Analytics
Make a list of all the metrics you currently rely on through UA, any cross-functionality that may need to be reorganized (such as Google Ads), and look for opportunities you may not be taking advantage of currently. The reports you use now may require a new configuration, and they will definitely look different in the new platform. Before making the migration, you need to know how you need things to function on the flip side.
Step 2: Set Up a New GA4 Profile
Google has made this easy for you with detailed instructions on how to set up a new GA4 profile and, critically, how to attach that new GA4 profile to your website. Those instructions can be found here. If you are a client of Spring Insight, we can take care of this for you. (If you haven’t heard from us yet, contact us and we will get the ball rolling.)
Step 3: Spend Time Comparing GA4 Reports to UA Reports
As we mentioned, the GA4 platform will operate differently than UA. You may still be able to set up the same reports tied to the same metrics, but they may look or feel slightly different. We recommend giving yourself and your site ample time to gather data under the new platform so that you can conduct a comparison.
The good news is that you will be able to run UA and GA4 simultaneously until UA is sunsetted. That means you can take the whole year to compare things if needed! Just be sure to download all of your reports when you are ready to fully switch over or before Google pulls the plug…whichever comes first.
Step 4: Set Up Your New GA4 Dashboard
GA4 promises to deliver more to users than the UA predecessor. In order to fully leverage the tool, you will need to spend time setting up your new dashboard. You will need to tell the tool what to track and how to report it to you. Some functionality will go away, such as tracking the bounce rate, but others will be far superior to the previous tool.
One of the biggest and most beneficial changes is that GA4 will be an event-based system that tracks everything a user is doing. Unlike UA, with GA4 events like page views, link clicks, scroll events and form submissions will be available without any additional set-up on your end. UA uses It’s a give and take, to be sure, but giving yourself time to think through it and set up the new platform will be worth the effort.
Step 5: Download All Reports and Data in UA
When UA sunsets in July of 2023, all of your UA data will soon be gone. How soon? It will be unavailable starting in December 2023. Sounds alarming, we know. That is why it is crucial that you gather up all of that information and safely store it internally. This will give you a more clear picture of what’s been happening on your site and give you a clear road map of what new reports you need to set up in GA4.
Making the switch to GA4 may feel like an inconvenience at best and a mind bending migraine at worst. If all of this makes you want to close your laptop and head to the nearest watering hole, we totally get it. In such cases, we recommend passing the GA4 migration reigns to someone else so that you can get back to doing what you do best in your business.
Spring Insight is ready to help. We get this whole GA4 thing and can work behind the scenes to get your business website’s analytics ready for the switch. Contact us today and let us know you need help with GA4 migration.