Google Analytics is the primary tool utilized to capture user behavior on your website. Historically we’ve used Universal Analytics (GA3), however, GA3 will soon be replaced by the latest version of Google Analytics (GA4). You’ve probably seen the following message when logging in to analytics.google.com:
Step 1: Create a GA4 property and launch it
It’s critical that we create a new GA4 property and launch it immediately. Historical data from UA (GA3) won’t be retained so we need to start gathering data for GA4 immediately, even if it isn’t fully baked.
To launch the new property, we need to:
- Create a new GA4 property.
- Add the new GA4 tracking tag to your site.
We prefer to fire this tag alongside the UA (GA3) tag through Google Tag Manager. Once the basic tags are in place and firing on your site we’ll monitor over the next few days to be certain data is passing through to GA4 and is similar to the data in your UA (GA3) property.
Step 2: Make a list of your key items
New analytics properties do not inherit specific tracking items (e.g., goals, events) from any other properties (including UA properties).
The following is a list of the most common tracking items we use in Google Analytics. You may have additional ones to add, but these are some common ones we’ll need to add to the list:
- Goals (Conversions)
With that list in hand, we’ll want to review independently as well as part of a collaborative session to identify gaps and/or metrics we’re tracking that we should discard, as well as think through and create new tracking items, such as new events, new goals, etc.
Remember that goals are created in each reporting view. Reporting views are not used with GA4, so if you want to preserve all of the goals you currently have in multiple reporting views for the same UA property, then you’ll need to list all of them and recreate them in the GA4 property.
Step 3: Begin migrating individual items to GA4
Once you have your list of items to recreate in GA4, the real setup work begins!
Here are the most common items for set up and some tips for setting each one up:
Events in GA4 are similar to UA setup, but you may need to set the tagging up for GA4 goals.
In GA4, goals are now renamed “Conversions”, and all goals are event-based.
When migrating your existing UA goals to GA4, we recommend starting with the event-based goals, as those are more similar to the original goal set up in UA.
Google Analytics audiences are helpful for advertising purposes and now also conversion setup in GA4. It’s important to set up your audiences long before the July 1, 2023 deadline so that you can update your Google Ads campaigns with comparable, viable audience lists when the UA properties stop tracking.
To recreate your audiences in GA4, first focus on the audiences in your list in UA (at the property level) and look for those that have Google Analytics as the audience type. Those will need to be recreated in GA4.
However, the terminology and way you create audiences has changed in GA4, so refer to Google’s audience creation guide for assistance.
Like almost all things in the UA to GA4 migration, e-commerce tracking also won’t magically move from UA to GA4. Google recommends creating a separate set of tags for GA4 e-commerce tracking, even though it is the same as UA. so refer to Set up e-commerce events for assistance.
Step 4: Confirmation / Review
Once you’ve launched your tracking items in the new GA4 properties, you’ll need to double-check that they are tracking properly.
Evaluate your e-commerce, conversions, event tracking, and more to ensure they are tracking as expected in the new properties. If not, troubleshoot the issue and fix it as soon as you can.
Step 5: Determine a date for migrating to GA4
As a best practice, you’ll want to have at least 3-6 months’ worth of data to review and compare to previous years of UA data to be certain you are accurately collecting all of the information necessary before switching off UA.
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