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Google Analytics 4: A Quick Guide to the Switch From Universal Analytics

Google Analytics is asking its users to move their Universal Analytics properties to the new version of the analytics software: Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Below we have written a short guide explaining what GA4 is, what deadlines you need to be aware of, and key features associated with the new platform.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google’s web analytics platform. It’s an upgrade from their current version, Universal Analytics, created to provide more advanced data tracking, machine learning capabilities and cross-device tracking.

It is an entirely new platform, rather than an update, that is built from the ground up to address the changing needs of marketers and website managers.

When can I switch to Google Analytics 4?

If you’re still using the Universal Analytics version it’s essential to switch to Google Analytics 4 before the deadline to ensure you’re taking advantage of the latest features and improvements. Here are the key deadlines:

  • From March 2023, Google will begin automatically creating Google Analytics properties.

  • On 1st July 2023, Universal Analytics will stop processing data, so you will not be able to collect any new user data.

  • In the coming months, Google will cease Universal Analytics properties, which means you’ll no longer be able to see your Universal Analytics reports or access the data via the API. There is no set deadline for this yet.

While it might seem that there is still plenty of time for the switch, it’s better to do that as soon as possible to avoid any disruption to your analytics tracking. The more you wait, the more data you’ll have to transfer into Google Analytics, which depending on your account size and reports, can be a time-consuming process.

What are the new features and improvements in Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4, uses a new data model that focuses on events (an interaction with an element on your website, such as video play, form completion, scroll bar use etc.), rather than page views in order to provide a more comprehensive view of user behaviour across different devices and platforms. GA4 will also employ machine learning to help you identify trends and insights that might not be apparent in your data.

A key improvement in Google Analytics 4 is its cross-device tracking functionality. Associations and other organizations often use multiple platforms for events registration forms, member sites and payment platforms. To track the customer journey and fully understand your members’ behaviour – which is necessary for any activity that seeks to improve their experience – data needs to be analyzed and collected for the entirety of their journey. Google Analytics 4, uses machine learning to fill the gaps in your data, providing a more complete view of your users behaviour. This means that you will understand better what needs to improve on all of your sites and platforms, in order to provide a good user experience for all your members, potential members and other visitors.

Google Analytics 4 will be significantly better at helping you analyze the content on your website. By allowing you to track individual actions, such as clicks, swipes and video plays, it can help you identify which pieces of content are resonating with your audience and what isn’t working for them. You’ll have the ability to make better, data-driven decisions to improve your users’ experience on your website.

While collecting data and using the best system to analyze that data is important, it’s essential to do so in a way that respects your user’s privacy and complies with your region’s data regulations. Google Analytics will improve your ability to do this by providing more advanced data privacy features, such as the ability to configure data retention period and delete data on demand.

Ultimately, it’s essential to make the move to Google Analytics 4 to ensure you take advantage of the latest features, not only to improve the user experience for your website visitors, but also to ensure you collect data in a way that respects their privacy and meets the latest data privacy regulations.

Do you need help moving your Universal Analytics property toGoogle Analytics 4, or have any further questions? Contact us and speak to one of our marketing experts now.


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