Universal Analytics is Going Away – 3 Need to Know Tips to Prepare for the Switch to GA4by Rachel McMahon on April 27, 2022Digital Marketing
As you probably have heard, Google finally announced the date for when they will sunset Universal Analytics: July 2023. While this news would understandably make any website owner panic, the process to make the switch is surprisingly straightforward. Below are 3 important tips that will help make the transition that much easier.
What is GA4?
Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is the newest version of Google Analytics. It was created to accommodate changing cookie restrictions, privacy concerns, and data collection abilities. If you are entirely new to GA4, check out our previous blog post “The Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)”.
Tip #1 – Create and Install a GA4 Property ASAP
July 2023 may seem far away, but it will come faster than you think. Worst case scenario would be to wait until June 2023 to create and install a GA4 property because that will only give you a month’s worth of data to use come July 2023. Anvil highly recommends that you at least get a GA4 property created and installed now, so that it can acquire more historical data to make this new property more valuable and useful next year.
Luckily, Google Analytics has provided a setup assistant within the Admin section. Simply navigate to the Admin section of your Universal Analytics property, and use the GA4 Setup Assistant to get started.
Note: this does not mean you have to abandon your existing Universal Analytics property just yet! A GA4 and Universal Analytics property can exist simultaneously. You can still use Universal Analytics as your main property while the GA4 property accumulates data.
Not sure where to start? Have you tried to create a GA4 property but got stuck? Contact Anvil today! We have a team of experts who are ready to help.
Tip #2 – Get Comfortable with the GA4 Interface
Upon first glance, you will notice how vastly different GA4 is from Universal Analytics. However, once you begin to explore and get acclimated, you will realize there are still numerous similarities between the two. You might even find you prefer the new interface once you’ve tried it out!
Tip #3 – Learn the Different Types of GA4 Events
If you have ever installed event tracking within your Universal Analytics property, you will probably thoroughly enjoy event configurations within GA4. There are 4 types of events:
- Automatically Tracked Events: Once you install GA4, you will have events that get automatically tracked without any additional configuration needed on your end. These include pageviews, first views, session starts, and user engagement.
- Enhanced Measurement Events: These will only collect data when you enable enhanced measurement upon creation of your GA4 property. To enable or disable enhanced measurement, navigate to the Admin section. Once enabled, these events also get automatically tracked and do not require any additional configuration.
- Recommended Events: These are not automatically tracked events and require you to implement tracking.
- Custom Events: If you would like to create an event that does not fall into the first three event types, then you can create a custom event directly within the GA4 property. Simply navigate to “Configure” to create your custom event.
One of the most important components of event tracking with GA4 is the naming conventions and required parameters for recommended events. If you do not follow these requirements, your data will not populate correctly.
For example, one of the GA4 recommended events is named “purchase”. As the name suggests, this is an event that tracks purchases on a website. If you were to name the event “Purchase”, GA4 would understand that as a completely separate event which would cause issues with ecommerce reporting. For reference, here is Google’s list of recommended GA4 events with their naming conventions.
The sunset of Universal Analytics is approaching, whether we like it or not. Thorough preparation will ensure a smoother transition, which is why we highly recommend getting used to GA4 sooner rather than later. For more information on GA4, check out our recent webinar that offers a deep dive into the platform to explain what’s new within GA4. As mentioned above, the Anvil team is always happy to offer support and guidance, so if you have questions about GA4, contact us today.