If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, you may know that Google has a new version of its analytics tool: Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This version brings significant changes from Google Analytics Universal. If you’re still on Universal Analytics, it will stop processing on July 1, 2023. So it’s time to do the GA4 migration.
GA4 migration may seem daunting, but since we will no longer count on Google Analytics Universal, it is essential to keep tracking your user’s behavior, creating and monitoring marketing strategies, checking out your audiences and possible audiences, campaigns, etc.
The benefits of GA4 are vast, including a more comprehensive view of user behavior, predictive analytics, and cross-device tracking. These features can provide valuable insights to website owners. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basics of GA4, the main differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics, and how to do the GA4 migration.
Differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics
What changed in GA4? There are several critical differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics. Here are some of them:
Event-driven data model:
GA4 uses an event-driven data model, meaning each user interaction with your website is considered an event. With this data model, you can track specific events on your site, such as button clicks, video plays, or form submissions, and create custom events. In contrast, Universal Analytics uses a session-based data model, which records pageviews and sessions.
Machine learning capabilities:
GA4 incorporates machine learning to analyze user behavior, provide more accurate data and insights, fill in data gaps, and make predictions. This feature is not available in Universal Analytics.
With GA4, you can track user behavior across mobile, desktop, and tablets. It lets you see how users interact with your website on other platforms and devices, providing a more comprehensive view of user behavior.
Improved privacy measures:
GA4 has been designed to be more privacy-friendly than Universal Analytics. It uses a new measurement model that protects user privacy and provides valuable insights to website owners. This new model includes a user consent mode that helps website owners comply with privacy regulations.
GA4 included this tool for developers to check out what is happening over the tracking site in real-time. It is available in the admin section, and it is helpful for detecting tracking errors and testing new custom events.
Universal Analytics gives you a bunch of filter types, while GA4 just filters two kinds of traffic, developer traffic and internal; the first one works by filtering all traffic coming from debug mode, which is a new tool of GA4, and internal traffic, which filters the traffic by a parameter called “traffic_type,” which should be recognized by the developer to put it to work.
GA4 provides a new template gallery for creating custom reports; you can access it by clicking explore. You will find some exciting features like funnel exploration and segment overlap. Also, it is the place to go away from the GA4 predefined reports and access to some metrics that seemed missing from Universal Analytics, such as bounce rate, search queries, etc. And a couple of new ones, such as engagement rate.
In Universal Analytics, enabling E-commerce reports was as simple as turning on the function, and that’s it. On GA4, you have to set up all the events related to it, meaning you have to go to your Google Tag Manager account and create custom events such as “purchase,” “add to cart,” etc. Follow Google’s guidance regarding E-commerce event names and required parameters.
How to get your Ga4 migration completed
If you’re interested in migrating to GA4, there are a few steps you need to take:
Create a GA4 property:
You must create a new GA4 property in your Google Analytics account. You can do this by clicking on the Admin tab and selecting “Create Property.”
Install GA4 tracking code:
Once you’ve created your GA4 property, you must put the GA4 tracking code to work. There are several ways to do it; we will explain just 2.
- Using your old Google Analytics tag: You can connect your GA4 property to the existing Google Analytics tag by going to the admin section and clicking “manage connected site tags”, on the data streams menu. Then paste the measurement ID of your Google Universal Analytics property and click save.
- Using your property measurement ID, located on the Data Stream Menu in the admin section: You can create a Google tag manager’s GA4 configuration tag by using your measurement ID and setting up the trigger as all pages. Even if you don’t want to use this method, it is best marketer practice to install Google Tag Manager for custom events and other tags.
Configure your data stream and property:
In GA4, you can use data streams to collect data from different platforms and devices; when it comes to website tracking, the data streams are analogous to a Universal Analytics view; here, you should make sure you have all the enhanced measurement assets activated and well configured. It is also essential to set up the main property assets, such as linking all the Google products and enabling Google signals for better demographic data collection.
Migrate conversions and custom events:
With GA4’s event-driven data model, you can track specific user interactions with your website, such as clicks, scrolling on certain pages, form interactions, page views, and other pre-defined GA4 events. If they’re not enough for your marketing plans, there is an events menu in the admin section to create new events or configure the same ones you had on your Universal Analytics.
Create custom reports:
This is essential for the GA4 migration. You can go beyond the GA4 default reports and make the data work for you. Leverage them by using a suitable template and correctly mixing metrics and dimensions.
Google has done a great job with its tool; the new features and capabilities of GA4 provide a more comprehensive view of user behavior. Even though the filter system is poor, and the E-commerce setup is a little more complicated than Universal Analytics, all these new features make it a helpful tool worthy of spending all the time required to complete the GA4 migration.