Switching From Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4: Five Things You Need to Know

When it comes to managing a website, you need to know whether the content that you are putting out is doing well or not. With the help of website analytics, you can track which of your pages are attracting the most site visitors, which ones are not as popular, and what you can do to optimize your webpage for maximum engagement.

According to a survey by Ruler Analytics, 90% of marketers chose Google Analytics as their preferred tool for measuring marketing campaigns. Equipped with a plethora of metrics that you can use to track marketing effectiveness, Google Analytics can provide you with a complete review of your website’s performance.

Currently, there are two versions of Google Analytics available for use: Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Google announced that UA will stop processing new hits on July 1, 2023, compelling their users to migrate to GA4.

Do You Need to Switch to Google Analytics 4?

If you are a Universal Analytics user, migrating to Google Analytics 4 can be intimidating, especially if you have been using UA for quite some time. Since Google is closing UA soon, switching to GA4 is not a matter of should you do it or not, but rather a matter of when.

We recommend that you start migrating to GA4 slowly without completely abandoning Universal Analytics. Some users commented that GA4 is much harder to use compared to UA, with some opting to switch back to their old analytics software. By using UA and GA4 at the same time, you will have the option to familiarize yourself with the new user interface and tracking methods of GA4 while still having the support of UA.

If GA4 is still quite difficult for you to navigate, you can always seek professional assistance to help you migrate from one analytics software to another.

Five Things You Need to Know Before Switching to Google Analytics 4

There are a lot of major differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 that make migrating from the former to the latter challenging for most users. Before you make the transition to GA4, familiarize yourself with the features of this software first and how they are different from UA to make the move as less complicated as possible.

Here are a few of the things that you need to know when switching from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4.

1. Measurement model

One of the main differences between Universal Analytics and GA4 is the measurement models they use. UA makes use of measurements based on sessions while GA4 uses event-based tracking which means counting every activity taken by users as events.

GA4’s event-based tracking allows you to have a more holistic approach when it comes to tracking user behavior. With the help of user IDs and unique Google signals, you will still be able to follow a user’s journey even when they switch devices.

2. Data Collection

One of the downsides of Universal Analytics is its lack of ability to track data from websites and applications simultaneously which leads to a blind spot when it comes to tracking app traffic and activity. This problem is eliminated in GA4 because you can now track cross-platform data accurately and with relative ease.

3. Privacy

GA4 provides more privacy control to users mainly by not storing IP addresses which are considered personal data under the GDPR. In Universal Analytics, IP addresses are not automatically anonymized which means that you will have to actively configure your analytics system to comply with data privacy laws.

In addition to this, GA4 will no longer use cookies to track data. Instead, it will make use of machine learning technologies to fill in data gaps and predictive analytics to find trends and patterns in user behavior to create forecasts.

4. Data retention

Universal Analytics can store your data for as long as you need, even forever. The data retention plans for UA are 14 months, 26 months, 38 months, and 50 months and do not automatically expire. But since Google will be closing UA on July 1, 2023, your data will only be stored until then.

GA4, on the other hand, only has two data retention options: 2 months and 14 months. Also, if you are moving from UA to GA4, you will not be able to carry over your historical data from your previous analytics system.

5. Enhanced integration with other Google products

GA4 was created with other Google products in mind. This means that you can integrate other platforms and tools from Google, such as Google Ads and Google Data Studio, to improve your analytics insight. This will allow you to improve and strengthen your overall marketing performance.

Another product that you can integrate with GA4 is BigQuery. As we have stated before, GA4 only stores data for a maximum of 14 months. If you want to be able to access your historic data after this timeline passes, moving your data to BigQuery will allow you to retain it.

Successfully Transition to Google Analytics 4 With Our Help!

The transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 is unavoidable. The whole process can be intimidating and overwhelming, but we here at Twin State Technical Services can help you successfully complete this move.

Contact us today for a consultation. Call 563-441-1504 or contact us online.


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