In the ever-evolving digital landscape, it is crucial for businesses to stay updated with the latest tools and technologies. When it comes to web analytics, Google Analytics has been a trusted and popular choice for tracking and measuring website performance. In October 2020, Google launched the newest version of its analytics platform, known as Google Analytics 4 (GA4). While GA4 offers advanced features and improved insights, migrating to this new platform requires careful planning and consideration. In this GA4 migration checklist, we will discuss the key things to consider before moving to GA4.
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Getting things right on GA4 is a key consideration. The platform tracks data differently, so metrics that were migrated successfully from UA may be tracking inaccurately on GA4. As such, there are a few important things to keep in mind before migrating to Google Analytics 4 to ensure the best results. Here are some of them:
Familiarize Yourself with GA4
Before diving into the migration process, it is essential to understand the fundamental differences between GA4 and the previous Universal Analytics (UA). GA4 uses an event-based model, allowing you to track user interactions more comprehensively. Familiarize yourself with the new terminology, data structure, and reporting interface to make a smooth transition.
Regardless of whether you choose to migrate to Google Analytics 4 immediately or wait for some time, it’s the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate your analytics measurement plan. After all, how data is collected will change between the two platforms, and it might be necessary to update your approach to meet the new needs of your business. This is also a great chance to make sure that all your key metrics are still relevant for your business and to consider how you want to present the data to stakeholders.
Assess Your Data Needs
Aside from making the technical transition, you will need to understand the new data model. The biggest difference is that GA4 uses event-based data, while UA uses session-based. This is because consumer behavior has evolved and now requires tracking users in a more granular way. Moreover, data privacy regulations have been evolving rapidly, and striking the right balance between tracking user experience and maintaining privacy expectations is a major challenge for marketers.
In addition to this, you will need to connect your UA product links to your GA4 property and set up referral exclusions. You can do this by going to the admin menu of your GA4 property, selecting Data Streams, and then More Tagging Settings. From here, you can set up filters to exclude internal traffic (or any other traffic that doesn’t belong to your website or app).
The more time you take to get your GA4 setup right, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy YoY comparisons of primary metrics. That’s why it’s best to start this process early and not put it off! If you need any further help, our team is happy to assist you with your GA4 migration.
Before migrating to GA4:
- Evaluate your current data needs and the goals you want to achieve with GA4.
- Consider the types of data you want to collect, such as user engagement, conversions, or specific events.
- Create a clear roadmap outlining your data collection requirements and align them with the capabilities of GA4.
This step ensures that you capture the right data for your business objectives.
Review Your Goals
If you’ve been using Universal Analytics for any significant length of time, you’ll likely have accumulated a sizable amount of historical data. Unfortunately, this data will not automatically migrate to Google Analytics 4. This means that any data which is not manually salvaged will be lost forever. As such, it is important to take the time to review your goals before making the switch to GA4.
During the migration process, it’s also worth evaluating whether your goals still align with your business objectives. For example, if you have set up a conversion goal that is based on page views, this will need to be moved over to event-based tracking in GA4. This will ensure that your most valuable data points are not lost.
Lastly, don’t forget to review your goal filters to make sure that any internal traffic is not being recorded as a conversion. This is an important step as it can have a significant impact on your overall performance. To avoid this, you can use Google Analytics’ default filter to exclude visits from your own IP address.
Plan the Implementation Strategy
Successful migration to GA4 requires a well-defined implementation strategy. Start by reviewing your existing implementation of Universal Analytics and identifying any gaps or issues. Determine how you will migrate existing data to GA4 and whether you need to make any adjustments to your website’s tracking code or mobile app SDKs. Collaborate with your development team or analytics experts to plan the implementation process thoroughly.
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Review and Update Tracking Code
To convert UA to GA4, you need to update your website’s tracking code. GA4 uses a new measurement ID, which is different from the UA property ID. Ensure that you update the tracking code across all the pages of your website. If you have a mobile app, update the app’s SDK to integrate GA4 for mobile tracking. Verify that all the desired events and conversions are properly tracked after the code implementation.
Set Up Essential Events and Conversions
GA4 emphasizes events as the primary metric for tracking user interactions. Identify the key events and conversions that are critical to your business goals. For example, you may want to track page views, button clicks, form submissions, or specific custom events. Create relevant event parameters and configure conversion tracking in GA4 to measure and analyze user behavior effectively.
When migrating from UA to GA4, it’s important to list all your events and re-create them in the new platform. You will need to do this because the GA4 event model is very different from UA, and you cannot automatically transfer data between them. Once you’ve listed your events, you can set up filtering and reporting in the new platform to match your UA setup.
Configure Data Streams
In GA4, data is organized into data streams, which are sources of data collection for different platforms like websites, mobile apps, and more. You need to configure data streams for each platform you want to track. Set up a web data stream for your website and associate it with the appropriate property and measurement ID. Similarly, create a mobile app data stream for your mobile application. Ensure that the data streams are accurately configured to capture the desired data.
This step is crucial, as GA4 collects data differently than UA, so you need to take care to ensure that your data is correctly migrated. After you’ve created a GA4 test property and set up a data stream, it’s time to start importing data from UA into GA4.
Utilize Enhanced Measurement
GA4 offers enhanced measurement features that automatically track certain user interactions without requiring additional event setup. Explore and enable these features to gather valuable insights effortlessly. For example, enhanced measurement can track scroll depth, outbound clicks, site search, video engagement, and file downloads. Leverage these automated features to save time and gain valuable data without manual event tracking.
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Define Custom Dimensions and Metrics
Custom dimensions and metrics allow you to segment and analyze data based on specific attributes unique to your business. Determine the custom dimensions and metrics that are relevant to your reporting needs and configure them in GA4. This step enables you to slice and dice your data in a more granular and meaningful way.
During this process, it’s important to make sure that all of your filters and goals are updated for GA4. You should also review your custom dimensions to ensure that they are mapped correctly. For example, if you have a custom dimension that is based on scope, it’s important to make sure that it’s migrated as an event-scoped dimension in GA4.
Test and Validate Data
Before fully transitioning to GA4, conduct thorough testing to ensure that data is being collected accurately. Use the GA4 DebugView feature or the GA4 Realtime report to monitor incoming events and validate their correctness. Run parallel tracking with UA and GA4 to compare data consistency. This testing phase is crucial to identify any issues or discrepancies and resolve them before making GA4 your primary analytics platform.
Educate and Train Your Team
Once you convert UA to GA4, it’s time to start using it! It’s important to take some time to familiarize yourself with the tool and attend applicable training sessions. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with GA4, you can begin educating others in your organization.
Migrating to GA4 involves a learning curve both for you and your team members. Provide proper training and educational resources to your marketing and analytics teams. Ensure they understand the new data model, reporting interface, and the functionalities offered by GA4. Empower your team to leverage the full potential of GA4 for data-driven decision-making.
Migrating to Google Analytics 4 can unlock valuable insights and help businesses make data-driven decisions. However, a successful migration requires careful planning and consideration of various factors. By familiarizing yourself with GA4, assessing your data needs, planning the implementation, and configuring tracking correctly, you can ensure a smooth transition. Remember to test and validate the data before fully adopting GA4 and invest in training your team to leverage the full potential of the platform. Embrace the power of GA4 and harness its advanced features to gain deeper insights into your website or app performance with this comprehensive GA4 migration checklist.
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