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Your Google Analytics May Be Expiring Soon – Be Ready For The Move to GA4

Jun 11, 2022 | Digital

Home > Your Google Analytics May Be Expiring Soon – Be Ready For The Move to GA4

Why Analytics Are Important 

Here at PD, we say, “Your website is your 24 hour digital storefront.” Whether it’s informational, promotional or transactional, it’s the one place anyone in the WORLD can go to learn more about your business. How cool is that? What’s even cooler is that Google offers free software, Universal Analytics, that allows you to measure and analyze visitor data in order to gain a deeper understanding of a user’s behavior throughout your website. Web analytics also allows you to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns by diving into details such as where traffic comes from and more.

No matter if you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, having website analytics helps you understand your audience to better optimize their experience and in turn increase your conversions and leads. With these insights, you can create targeted content and gain greater visibility on search engines. 

So you may be wondering what’s happening to Google Analytics to warrant a whole blog post? Google announced that they are upgrading from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4 (sometimes referred to as Google Analytics 4) and this transition should be a priority for your business. 

Change Is Here 

Google announced the transition back in October of 2020, but that was years ago right? Time flies and it’s time to take action rather than ignore something that’s years down the line (especially because now it’s only a year away!).

UA uses cookies (you know that thing everyone often hits ‘accept’ to the second they see the popup) to collect data. However, as time has gone on these cookies are much more easily blocked with the use of ad blockers, the end of 3rd party cookies, increased regulations, iOS changes and more. Google found that their UA product needed to evolve with the times and they took the approach of rebuilding GA4 from the ground up, designing with the future in mind. Machine learning remains at the core of this new system allowing it to make predictions about the future and help fill in the gaps that these new ad blockers create. This means no third party cookies, even more regulations, and increased privacy.

If you’re already comfortable with Universal Analytics, we are sorry to say, there will be a learning curve when switching to the new system. The way that GA4 tracks users on your website, models the data and reports it is entirely different which means it’s no easy feat with a quick upgrade rollout – instead all business owners and web developers need to take the change into their own hands. It is imperative that you switch over to GA4 and the clock is ticking, because starting July 1, 2023 the UA data will no longer be collected and a year after that the UA data will longer be available for historical references either. 

Upgrading to GA4 and what it means for you

Upgrading to GA4 means collecting data to invest in your company and websites’ future. By upgrading now you ensure that you will collect months of data before this ultimate switch. The longer the lead time, the better and more useful look you get at your user activity. Additionally, for the first year (if you upgrade now) you can run UA and GA4 at the same time. This way as you’re getting used to the new platform and layout you can always refer back to “ole reliable” to help bridge the gap. We understand this may seem like a lot to do on top of all the work you’re already doing in your day to day operations, so we wanted to provide you with a bit of guidance.

Step 1 — Activate GA4:

– Start with the set-up assistant to create a new GA4 property that collects data in parallel with your existing Universal Analytics property. As mentioned before, make sure that you at least do this step by July 1, 2022 so that you can have a year of data collected on GA4 while UA still works as UA will stop collecting new data by July 1, 2023. 

Step 2 – Filter IP Addresses

– Be sure that you filter out your IP Addresses from the website data. Doing this will ensure that if you are on your own site the web analytics won’t count it towards visitors/sessions etc. as this would skew your data. Filtering out your company’s IP Addresses will ensure that the web data is tracking your customers. 

Step 3 – Set Up Basic Reports

– GA4’s reporting setup differs from UA in that there are fewer predefined reports. For example, under the Behavior report in UA there are 22 predefined reports while in GA4 there are only 4. However, GA4 allows you to create more custom reporting. The exploration tab is a collection of advanced techniques that go beyond the standard reports that UA provided. This tab helps you uncover deeper insights about your customers’ behaviors.

Step 4 – Export Data

– Before you fully get rid of UA, or before it gets rid of your data in 2024, be sure to export historical data for your records. Depending on your report usage you will need to export this data in different timeframes. For example, if you look at reports on a monthly basis, you will need to export your UA data on a monthly basis to ensure it’s the most accurate. We suggest you export at least 1 years worth of data for your records. Depending on how you utilize the data you may want to consider exporting even more. 

These four steps should be completed as soon as possible. If this seems like something you or someone in your team can do, then send this blog their way. If you feel like it would be easier to have someone do it for you, check out our GA4 Upgrade Made Easy service we offer. We’ve put it together specifically for businesses who haven’t found the time to upgrade. Data is the center of successful marketing decisions, and it’s important that data is accurate and easy to digest. 

GA4 can go far beyond the basics. You are able to dive even deeper into the data by creating components such as events, goals, audiences and more. 

  • Events

    show what your visitors are doing on every page – whether its clicks, scrolls or form submissions you can set up an event to see what each user did on your website. 

  • Goals

    (also called conversions in GA4) showcase which actions or events are considered a conversion for your business. 

  • Custom Dimensions/Metrics

    are easy to create and can be used to collect and analyze data that Analytics doesn’t automatically track. 

  • Audiences

    let you segment your users in the ways that are important to your business. You can segment by dimensions, metrics, and events to include practically any subset of users.

  • Content Groupings

    simply put are a collection of content. It’s a way to organize your website data. For example, if you own a clothing store you can create a content group for “women” which includes all women’s clothing and accessories.

This upgrade may bring some unwelcome emotions, the good news is that GA4 promises a completely new way to model data and even the ability to predict future revenue. Great things are to come, but right now our focus is to let everyone know that the best time to switch to GA4 is now! The quicker you switch over the more data you’ll collect on the new system. The last day that UA will collect data is July 1, 2023. So you only have a few weeks to switch over for a full year worth of data. If you wait, it will be hard to compare your data. 

Reminder: If this seems like something you or someone in your team can do, then send this blog their way. If you feel like it would be easier to have someone do it for you, check out GA4 Upgrade Made Easy.

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