Universal Analytics [UA → GA4] Google Analytics 4 Migration Guide

Google Analytics 4 represents the advanced measurement solution, replacing Universal Analytics. As of July 1, 2023, standard Universal Analytics properties stopped processing new data. By July 1, 2024, all users will lose access to the Universal Analytics interface and API. To continue measuring your website effectively, it’s essential to transition to a Google Analytics 4 property. If you haven’t done so already, it is imperative to make the switch to Google Analytics 4.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a powerful web analytics service offered by Google that allows website owners and marketers to track and analyze various aspects of their website’s performance and user interactions. It provides valuable insights into how users find and navigate a website, their actions, and how they engage with the content.

Some key features and capabilities of Google Analytics:

  • Website traffic analysis
  • User behavior analysis
  • Conversion tracking
  • Audience segmentation
  • Real-time reporting
  • Integration with other Google products

Difference between UA and GA

Universal Analytics

Google Analytics

  • It records data by monitoring sessions and page views. This entails tallying each instance of a visitor accessing your website and the number of pages they navigate during that visit.
  • UA has a more complex framework comprising accounts, properties, and views.
  • The reports are based on predefined metrics like page views and bounce rate.
  • UA is phased out
  • It monitors data through events, capturing all user interactions on your website or app, not limited to page views. This encompasses actions such as button clicks, video plays, or transactions.
  • GA has a simpler structure with just accounts and properties.
  • The reports are more flexible and allow you to customize what data you see.
  • GA is the future of Google Analytics.
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As per GA4

Google Analytics & 360 Updates

Google consistently introduces significant updates to its platform tools every few years to keep things fresh. This year, Google has declared its intention to phase out Universal Analytics 360 in March 2024, urging all users to transition to GA4. Whether you accept or resist these updates, adapting is necessary to continue gathering data effectively on your website.

Massive updates like this often trigger collective panic among the digital marketing community and business owners. The challenge is mastering a new user experience, adjusting data interpretation, and the initial setup process.

By July 1, 2024, all users will lose access to the Universal Analytics interface and API. To continue measuring your website effectively, it’s essential to switch to a Google Analytics 4 property.

As a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO web design and development, Google Analytics is integral to our daily operations. As early adopters of GA4, we must swiftly become experts in navigating the new features and functionalities.

Major Updates and Features in GA4:

AI-Powered Insights: GA4 takes advantage of artificial intelligence to deliver more precise insights and predictions, empowering businesses to make informed decisions.

Customization: GA4 enables businesses to gather and analyze data in a manner aligning with their specific needs, leveraging machine learning and AI components for tailored analytics.

Integration with Other Tools: GA4 integrates with tools like BigQuery, Looker Studio, and more for advanced analysis and custom reporting.

BigQuery Export: GA4 offers faster and more comprehensive data exports to BigQuery, ensuring businesses have access to reliable and consistent data for analysis.

Custom Reporting Experiences: GA4 empowers businesses to create personalized reporting experiences tailored to different roles and teams within their organizations.

Service Level Agreement (SLA): GA4 provides a service level agreement for data export, ensuring consistent timing each day, which facilitates standardization of analysis workflows for businesses.

What happens after January 2024?

March 2024: By this deadline, all users are urged to switch to GA4 and complete the historical data export. This three-month timeframe (Jan–March) allows for thorough data validation and adjustment of settings to facilitate a smooth transition.

July 1, 2024: A significant milestone approaches, as Universal Analytics properties and API access will cease to be available after this date. Data deletion will promptly follow within a week, underscoring the necessity for prompt action.

For Google Analytics 360 users, the timeline aligns with that of standard users and highlights the importance of migrating and exporting historical data by March 2024. The final shutdown of Universal Analytics will commence on July 1, 2024, highlighting the urgency for a proactive approach.

As we navigate this transformative phase in analytics, it’s vital to embrace change proactively. Prepare your properties, validate your data, and ensure a seamless transition to Google Analytics 4 ahead of these critical deadlines.

Why is migrating to Google Analytics 4 so difficult?

Migrating to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) can be challenging due to compatibility issues with Universal Analytics, the need to transfer large amounts of data, a redesigned user interface that requires learning, and the absence of some familiar features. Google is addressing these challenges by facilitating integration between Universal Analytics and GA4, providing data import options, offering educational resources for training, and continuously adding new features to GA4. 

Despite the difficulties, businesses can prepare for the migration by planning, utilizing available training resources, and gradually transitioning their data to ensure a successful switch to GA4.

How long will it take to migrate?

Migrating from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) typically requires careful planning and coordination across teams. The timeline for the process depends upon the complexity of the data, settings adjustments, and user adoption

Pros and Cons of GA4

Pros of GA4

Cons of GA4

  • GA4 tracks user interactions (events) instead of just sessions and page views
  • Offers features like data deletion settings and granular control over what data is collected, aligning with evolving privacy regulations
  • Seamlessly tracks user behavior across websites and apps, providing a unified view of user journeys
  • Offers advanced features like funnels and attribution models for deeper insights into user behavior and conversion paths
  • GA4 integrates with other Google products like Google Ads, BigQuery, and Looker Studio for streamlined analysis and reporting
  • The new interface and functionalities, compared to UA, require users to adapt and learn new processes
  • Doesn’t allow direct comparison with historical data from previous years
  • Integrating GA4 with existing workflows and tools might require adjustments and additional setup
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How to migrate to GA4? : ColorWhistle process

Setting up GA4 can be tricky, especially if your company uses Google Tag Manager (GTM). But even if you don’t use GTM, we at ColorWhistle will make sure that GA4 collects all the data you need.

For existing GA4 setups, we’ll check everything carefully with GA4 and GTM audits. We look at all your analytics tools to improve how GA4 works and gathers data. This helps your team make better business and marketing decisions.

Here’s how we do it:

Checking GA4 & GTM: We look at what data is already in your GTM containers and GA4 properties. We figure out what extra data could be useful for your reports, and which parts of GTM require updating.

Planning GA4 Tracking: Once we understand your current setup and what actions users take on your site, we decide how to set up GA4. This includes:

  • Tracking events and conversions
  • Adding extra details to events for GA4
  • Tracking online sales
  • Identifying users with the User ID
  • Grouping different types of content
  • Creating custom groups of users

Setting up GA4: We create or update your GTM containers and GA4 properties. We test everything to make sure it works properly before making it live. You can check our work before we finish.

Making Reports: GA4’s report layout might seem confusing at first. But we’ll make it easier for your team by creating simple reports in Google Looker Studio and setting up easy-to-use features in GA4. This way, you can find the data you require without any hassle.

GA4 audits & property set-ups that drive results

Our GA4 consulting services offer expert guidance and support to navigate the transition to Google Analytics 4 smoothly. Whether you’re new to GA4 or seeking optimization strategies, our team provides tailored solutions to maximize the potential of your analytics setup. From initial setup and configuration to advanced tracking strategies and reporting enhancements, we ensure you’re equipped with the knowledge and tools to make use of the full power of GA4 for informed decision-making and business growth.

Our GA4 audit and property set-up services are designed to drive tangible results for your business. We meticulously examine your existing GA4 setup to identify areas for improvement and optimization. Our audit process involves,

  • Tracking conversions to monitor leads, form submissions, and other vital user interactions
  • Ensure property settings align with your measurement strategy by reviewing administrative configurations in Google Analytics
  • Monitoring e-commerce activities to keep tabs on transactions, their values, and the items purchased
  • Implementing additional event tracking via Google Tag Manager for actions like form submissions, video views, and button clicks—virtually any action on your site can be tracked
  • Creating custom audiences to segment user behavior into different groups. These audience parameters can range from broad to highly specific, aiding in analysis within GA4 and facilitating retargeting campaigns in Google Ads.
  • Implementing content groups to streamline performance analysis across various sections of your website
  • Enabling cross-domain tracking for businesses with multiple websites to understand how users navigate between them and to ensure accurate attribution for cross-site conversions
  • Create custom reports and explorations tailored to your business needs, leveraging GA4’s capabilities for in-depth data analysis and visualization

If you want to upgrade to GA4 ASAP, contact ColorWhistle by sending us a message or calling us at +1 (919) 234-5140, we’ll get back to you at the earliest. We provide services tailored to your requirements that suit your business. We are also experts at website development services, as well as web designing. You can approach us for any of these services to make a robust online presence for your business.

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About the Author - Varsha

I am a zealous copywriter with an enthusiasm to learn everyday. I am able to diversify my knowledge at CW as I get the opportunity to write for various industries. What I love about writing is the research part when I can explore on the data while googling. I am also experienced in playing with words for the WooCommerce plugins and eCommerce platforms. When am off from writing I love experimenting new dishes and also a booklouse at time.

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