By now you should know that Universal Analytics (UA) is making way for GA4 in July 2023, so now is the time to migrate to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Google announced this in March 2022 as the future way to help businesses better understand their customer’s journeys. In this post, we’ll take you through how to migrate to Google Analytics 4 and the differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.
Why migrate? It’s quite simple, you have to. Standard Universal Analytics will cease processing any new data as of July 1st 2023. If you have the 360 Universal Analytics, you have slightly longer; up until October 1st 2023. You will still be able to access historical data in Universal Analytics after July 1st 2023, for at least 6 months, but to ensure you have a good batch of data you need to migrate now.
A large part of the change is to provide more privacy for web users, which means that some aspects of UA will not be brought across. However, you’ll be able to get more insights into user behaviour with the next generation in tracking algorithms and cross-device and application support.
GA4 will provide a new approach to data collection that will use event-based data tracking rather than cookie-based monitoring, which will make tracking events, goals, and transactions much more accurate and traceable to their source if properly set up.
You need to be aware of a few key changes before making the migration from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.
In comparison to UA’s two user metrics, GA4 will add a third, with the user metrics now being Total Users, Active Users, and New Users with GA4’s main focus being on Active Users rather than Total Users like Universal Analytics uses.
The User section of Google Analytics 4 is split into 2 sections; Demographics and Tech. The Demographics report has several different cards – Users by Country, Users in the last 30 minutes, and Users by City.
Users are also split into new and returning users. A new user won’t have a Google Analytics cookie or Client ID from the site/app whereas a returning user will and that is how Analytics differentiates.
As people interact with your website or mobile app, the user stickiness percentages automatically fill in. The ratios contrast active users’ engagement over a shorter time period with their engagement over a longer period of time. Higher ratios indicate greater engagement and user retention, which can help you evaluate how successfully you retain users over time.
The ratios consist of the following values:
The differences in page views comes down to the different types of tracking. Where UA tracks with mobile-specific properties, Google Analytics 4 will combine both web and app data in one property.
The pages and screens report shows the screens from your mobile apps and websites that consumers visit the most frequently and uses The HTML <title> tag to determine which page the user has visited and Google will populate the report based on this.
In GA4, purchase data can be found in the monetisation report under three categories; in-app purchases, eCommerce purchases, and publisher ads.
A lot of factors affect the differences between recording sessions via either tool. Geography, filters, use of UTMs, and estimation all contribute to differences in session count. GA4 focuses a lot more on events and conversions rather than page views and sessions so this makes it easier to see the quality of the traffic that is coming to your site. You can combine a mixture of engagement, conversion, and relevance metrics to establish the quality of traffic.
Conversions have an important difference; GA4 counts every instance of the conversion event, even if the same conversion event is recorded multiple times during the same session whereas UA counts only one conversion per session for each goal and only the events that you designate as conversions are displayed in the conversions report.
GA4 will not use bounce rate as per UA, but engagement rate instead focusing on sessions over 10 seconds, with a conversion, or with over 2 page views. Unlike UA, where the Behaviour reports would show exit pages, there is no native report in GA4 to show this data. To identify where people are leaving the site you will need to create a new report in Explore.
Google Analytics 4 has two tags that work together, GA4 Event and GA4 Configuration.
The configuration tag manages actions like the creation of Google Analytics cookies, the transmission of enhanced and automatic measurement events, and the declaration of standard settings.
You will need to ensure that the configuration tag fires on all pages of your site that you
want GA4 to collect data from. The configuration tag also needs to be set up before the
event tag as the event tag will inherit the parameters from the configuration tag.
To create a GA4 Configuration tag:
The configure section can be located in the left-hand navigation bar under home > configure. It will show you your events, conversions, custom definitions, and also debug view based on the configuration tag.
For your domains, we can create GA4 properties and tailor the monitoring to meet your specific reporting requirements. This includes creating goals and implementing critical eCommerce tracking features like revenue, checkout reporting, and basket abandonment.
We have enabled numerous companies to migrate from Universal Analytics to GA4 and have a reliable framework in place to safeguard their company data.
Audit your current UA set-up including configuration, eCommerce, and goal tracking ready for your migration
Set up your new GA4 profile & data streams alongside all of the findings from our audit and integrate Advanced eCommerce & goal tracking configuration
Data validation 2-4 weeks post-implementation to ensure that tracking is working & any tweaks required to settings
Decommission – when the time comes we’ll remove all of the integrated tracking and events from your old platform, export your data and provide it in a secure zip file
We offer GA4 training for your team so you can learn the ins and out of the platform once successfully migrated
Google Analytics 4 is a great opportunity to re-validate your key analytics and benefit from new, more accurate data insights that will enable you to make smarter business decisions.
Our team already has a wealth of experience and a robust, tried and tested process in upgrading Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 across platforms like Magento, WordPress, Shopify, and Drupal. Get your free integration quote now.
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