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How to Transition from Universal Analytics to GA4: A Step-by-Step Guide
As the digital landscape evolves, businesses must adapt to the latest technologies to remain competitive. Google Analytics is one such tool that businesses use to track and analyse their website and app performance.
While Universal Analytics has been the go-to version for over a decade, the newer Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers more advanced features and tracks user behaviour more accurately.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the difference between the two and how to transition from Universal Analytics to GA4.
What is the main difference between Universal Analytics and GA4?
Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) are different versions of the popular web analytics tool provided by Google. UA has been the standard version of Google Analytics until recently. GA4 is a newer and more advanced version that offers more robust features.
The primary difference between UA and GA4 is how they track and report user behaviour on websites and mobile apps. UA uses sessions and pageviews as the primary metrics to track user behaviour, while GA4 uses events and user properties.
In UA, a session is a set of user interactions with a website during a specific period. A pageview measures the number of times users view a particular page. These metrics measure overall website traffic and the popularity of specific pages.
Google has announced that UA will stop processing data by July 1, 2023. Now would be a great time to make the transition to GA4. You and your team will have ample time to familiarise yourselves with GA4 before fully transitioning.
In contrast, GA4 uses events and user properties to track user behaviour. Events are actions that users take on a website or app, including clicking a button or filling out a form. Let’s say that you run a blog and want to track when users download a free e-book. To do this in GA4, you would need to set up a “Download ebook” event.
User properties are attributes of users, such as their age, gender, or location. These metrics focus on user engagement and behaviour, providing businesses with more detailed insights into how users interact with their website or app. For example, you run an online store that sells sporting goods. By using GA4, you can determine which products are the most popular among different age groups and create more effective marketing campaigns.
Another significant difference between UA and GA4 is the way they handle data. UA relies on cookies to track user behaviour, which can be limited by browser privacy settings. GA4, on the other hand, uses a combination of first-party cookies and machine learning to track user behaviour. As a result, the latter paints a more accurate picture of user activity.
GA4 offers more advanced features and a more accurate way of tracking user behaviour, making it a better choice for businesses looking to gain deeper insights into their digital marketing performance.
How to Set Up GA4
1. Set up a new GA4 property.
Google has a handy GA4 Setup Assistant that can automatically create a GA4 property for you. Log into your account and click on Admin. Select the property and click on GA4 Setup Assistant. Once you click on it, Google will walk you through creating a new GA4 property that’s already connected to your current Universal Analytics property.
However, the conversions you previously set up will not be copied over to the new GA4 property. You may need to set everything up again.
2. Ensure the new GA4 property collects data.
Once the new GA4 property is set up, you will need to enable data collection. To do this, click on Admin, then select Data Streams. Click on Add Stream, select Web as the data stream type, and follow the prompts to complete the setup. Once this step is done, GA4 will begin collecting data on user behaviour on the website.
3. Take note of your new Measurement ID.
To do this, go to the Admin section of GA4, click on Data Streams, and select the data stream you previously set up. You will then see the property’s unique Measurement ID. You can use it to update tools like Google Tag Manager to ensure you’re collecting data and to set up conversions.
If you’ve set up conversions in Universal Analytics, you may need to set everything up again in GA4. We highly recommend using Google Tag Manager to make the entire process more efficient.
If you set up a conversion in Google Tag Manager, GA4 will create a corresponding event. You will then need to go to GA4, and click on Reports. Select Engagement, and click on Events. You will then need to click on the toggle button that turns the event into a conversion. Unless you complete this step, the conversions you set up in Google Tag Manager will be considered events, not conversions, in GA4.
In addition to the steps outlined above, businesses should test their new GA4 property to ensure they’re collecting accurate data. The real-time report section of GA4 can be incredibly helpful for testing, letting you see visitors and conversions in real time. They can also explore the tool to gain deeper insights into user behaviour and improve their online presence.
Overall, transitioning to GA4 is a vital step for businesses looking to stay ahead online. By following our guide and exploring the new features offered by GA4, businesses can make data-driven decisions to improve their website performance.
Cornerstone Digital is a digital marketing agency in Sydney. We’d be glad to help you make the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4. Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at email@example.com.
A self-professed book and digital marketing nerd, Darlyn Herradura focuses on building trust between customers and businesses with the written word. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.