Late to the Google Analytics 4 party?

Do three things now to prepare for the switch to GA4

Google Universal Analytics was a game-changer for tracking user website activity, making it easier and more effective to understand how customers interacted with a site. Launched 17 years ago, it provided accurate data and insights in a plug-and-play format, enabling even analytics novices to benefit from the platform. 

After multiple updates and iterations, Google announced last year that as of July 1, 2023, it would sunset Universal Analytics and replace it with the newer Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Google has notified constituents about this transition for the past year, but some of us may have hit “snooze” on the notifications. If this is you, read on.  

The potential benefits of GA4 are exciting 

GA4 offers features Universal Analytics does not, such as cross-device tracking, improved user privacy measures, and the ability to use machine learning to provide personalized insights. It’s an exciting and necessary move to help businesses better understand their customers’ needs and behaviors.   

Making the switch to GA4 is disruptive 

GA4 isn’t a minor upgrade – it’s a major overhaul.  

Where Google Universal Analytics provides a turnkey experience, GA4 presents a significant change in how analytics work to meet the needs of a more sophisticated audience. Setting it up requires planning and data engineering — which can take months — and legacy data can be lost if it’s not downloaded before the switch takes place.  

If you’ve been avoiding the subject of GA4, the time to prioritize it is now.  

Three actions to take for a smooth transition 

1) Prioritize and strategize 

  • Designate a point person. Ideally, you’ll want someone who can help with the migration process at a technical, hands-on level. Having a person to orchestrate all the moving parts is critical. 
  • Create a task force. To transition smoothly, you’ll need a comprehensive plan for leveraging GA4 for your unique marketing needs. This initiative requires a team. 
  • Develop a setback schedule. Google Universal Analytics sunsets July 1. Completing the migration in June can help ensure you’ll capture quality data from Day 1. Reverse engineer a timeline starting in April to allow sufficient time to plan and execute.

2) Assess your data needs and goals 

Migrating to GA4 may feel like a huge lift, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to reset and optimize. To make the most of the opportunity: 

  • Identify what you and your business stakeholders need from GA4 
  • Conduct a detailed analysis of your current tracking setup, KPIs, and objectives 
  • Update legacy tracking codes 
  • Revise analytics tags
  • Ensure proper coverage across all platforms and devices
  • Make decisions about data warehousing 
  • And invest in the necessary resources or training to be sure your team can leverage GA4’s features efficiently. 

3) Work the plan 

Google has outlined what users must do, including a step-by-step guide and an automated setup assistant to help you migrate to and configure GA4. 

Notably, Google grades the effort level of each tactic. Take advantage of this information to know whether you can handle it in-house or need to budget for help.  

Plan now to avoid panic later  

Google Universal Analytics is no longer supported, but its legacy continues in the greater capabilities and insights offered by GA4. With it, businesses can gain deeper insights into their customers and be better equipped to personalize the user experience. 

There’s a lot to do, but you can successfully migrate to GA4 and mature your data and analytics strategy by acting now.  

We can help you prepare. Contact one of our archers to learn more. 

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