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Why you should be moving to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) now

Google has announced that from July 1 2023, its Universal Analytics (UA) platform will no longer be available and will be replaced with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). At this point, your existing website performance reports will stop working and you will need to use the GA4 to access your reports. To add an extra kick, Google will completely remove UA properties at some point in 2024. Meaning that if you rely on historical website performance data, you could find yourself with very limited information.

Whilst July 2023 seems like you have plenty of time to make the switch, there are some critical reasons why you need to begin planning your move to GA4 now.

1. GA4 will not contain any historical data migration

Even if you are using your existing UA tag to create a parallel GA4 property, historical data will be not migrated. Essentially the new GA4 property will only begin collecting data from the day it is installed and configured.

This is a massive issue for businesses that rely on historical data to compare their latest reports with past performance. In addition, there is currently no way to import data into GA4.

Whilst businesses technically have until June 2023 to migrate to GA4, the sooner it happens, the more historical data they will have in GA4 in July 2023 to benchmark against.

Even if you’re not quite ready to let go of Universal Analytics just yet, don’t worry. Installing GA4 now will not remove your UA property. The two will run in parallel, giving you plenty of time to get familiar with GA4 whilst relying on your trusted reports that you know and love.

2.  The reporting metrics in GA4 are different

There is a considerable learning curve when moving from UA to GA4. GA4 has some completely new metrics, replacing retired metrics from UA and in addition, the calculation behind some metrics will be changing too.

Bounce Rate is one example, which is superseded by Engagement Rate. Rather than calculating the percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page, the Engagement Rate calculates the number of ‘engaged sessions’. This is a session that has lasted more than 10 seconds, had a conversion event, or had at least two page or screen views.

Conversions will also evolve, with GA4 counting every instance of a conversion event per session, whereas UA only tracked one conversion per session for each goal.

With new and evolved metrics such as these, businesses will find it difficult to compare like for like.

To make the adoption a little more problematic, the measuring model is somewhat different too.

UA prioritises sessions and page views, whereas GA4’s measuring model is event-based. You will still see session-based data but GA4 collects and stores this data as events.

The reports provided by Google Analytics are completely different too.

Universal Analytics (UA) Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

On the face of it, UA is more comprehensive, with plenty of standard reports. Whereas GA4 has fewer standard reports but with additional work, provides much more flexibility in creating custom reports.

3. It will take a bit of time to set up and configure GA4

Any of the customisations you have made in your current UA property will not be migrated over to a new GA4 property. Many businesses use custom event tracking, filters and eCommerce tracking, and these components will need to be set up and configured in GA4.

We recommend that businesses make a comprehensive list of any customisations they have made, alongside the key reports they use. This can then be used to ensure a comprehensive GA4 property is set up and configured, long before the July 1 2023 deadline.

Be prepared…

With many businesses currently using the popular Universal Analytics tool to track their website performance, conversions and transactions, the switch over to GA4 may cause a few reporting issues. However, between now and July 2023, it is possible for businesses to run both their UA and GA4 properties in parallel. This window of opportunity is closing. The longer businesses put off this migration, the less time they will have to get familiar with GA4 and collect critical reporting data.

If you need assistance with setting up and correctly configuring your GA4 property, we can help. Get in touch and we can ensure you are prepared for the UA to GA4 switch.

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