Late last year, we explored the differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 (GA4). We shared why Google decided to upgrade Google Analytics, reviewed how GA4 works, and explained how to prepare for the upgrade.
On July 1, 2023, Google will no longer support Universal Analytics, meaning the program will stop collecting new data. If you haven’t upgraded to Google Analytics 4 yet, it’s time.
With GA4, you’ll get cross-device tracking, enhanced privacy, and more robust data collection, which will enable you to make more meaningful marketing decisions. And there’s no reason to procrastinate — installation is simple.
Upgrade Google Analytics to GA4: Getting Started
To begin your initial installation of GA4, follow these easy steps:
- Log in to your existing Universal Analytics.
- Navigate to the Admin Section.
- Under “Property” (in the Property View), click the very first link, which is GA4 Setup Assistant.
- A big blue button will appear in the middle of the page that says, “Get Started.” Click that button and follow the provided instructions.
Once you set up your initial GA4 (by following the provided steps), you’ll need to make sure your settings are correct. This will require some manual tweaking.
Why? Because Universal Analytics and GA4 don’t track the same factors in the same way.
While Universal Analytics tracks conversions and sessions, GA4 takes a different algorithmic approach and tracks events and users. You’ll have to account for these differences as you tweak your settings. For example, do you track all your metrics using Google Tag Manager? If so, you’ll need to set up the new GA4 tags.
Also, if you plan to use Google Signals, you’ll have to activate it as part of your GA4 setup. If you don’t want to use Google Signals, you’ll have to specifically tell the system that.
The other thing to decide after you upgrade Google Analytics is whether you’ll import your goals from Universal Analytics into GA4 as a GA4 event, or if you’ll create new events in GA4.
As you can see, upgrading to GA4 isn’t as simple as clicking a few buttons. A fair amount of decision-making is involved. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
Questions We Ask Our Clients
When we help our clients upgrade Google Analytics, we ask a few questions that allow us to customize their GA4 experience.
First, we ask if they use Google Tag Manager. If they don’t, we strongly encourage them to move all their tracking there. Google Tag Manager is a more consistent, secure way to manage marketing tags and collect data, and it gives us valuable insights we can’t get through GA4 alone.
Next, we want to know how Google Ads or Facebook Ads have been tracking the client’s attribution. We can set up GA4 to track similarly. This is important because GA4 considers other channels’ prospect visits during their conversion process.
For example, say a parent is researching childcare centers on their laptop at home. They land on your website, but they don’t convert.
The next day, they’re on their phone and click on a Facebook ad that takes them to your landing page. They learn more about your programs, but they still don’t convert.
Then, two days later, while they’re at work on their desktop, they organically navigate to your website by typing in the URL. They’re finally ready, and they take action toward conversion.
But where do we attribute the conversion? To the first touchpoint on their home laptop? To the second touchpoint on their mobile phone? Or to the third and final touchpoint, their desktop at work?
Google will track what you tell it to track. You can instruct it to track a single touchpoint, track across all touchpoints (called linear tracking), or track using a data-driven model (which is more complicated). We determine which to use based on how our clients track attribution in their ad platforms. If it doesn’t apply to organic traffic, we don’t make many changes in GA4.
Let Us Be Your Guide
Does this sound a little complicated? That’s because it is.
Upgrading Google Analytics is about much more than clicking the big blue button that says “Get Started.” Although initial setup is simple and straightforward, fine-tuning your tracking takes a lot of finesse and requires much more nuance.
The good news is we’re here for you. Our team of experts is ready and eager to help your business succeed.
When you need a hand with GA4 or anything else related to digital marketing, give us a call. We’ve got you covered.
Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.