Prepping for Google Analytics 4: What you Should Know

by | Jun 16, 2023 | Google Analytics, News

Google recently announced that Google Analytics Universal Analytics (UA) will no longer be processing any new data effective 1st July 2023. Users who want to access their historical data after this date must implement GA4. While the cut-off date is still far off into the future, it pays to learn the basics of migrating to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to ensure a seamless business transition.
In this post, we tell you more about Google Analytics 4 and what to do to be prepared for the new update.


What is Google Analytics 4?


Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is Google’s next-gen platform for web analytics in both websites and applications. The platform boasts cutting-edge machine-learning features that deliver more realistic and relevant insights to help you make informed business decisions. GA4 was specifically designed for digital marketers in need of tools to help them keep up to pace with changes in business and consumer behavior.


What to expect in GA4?


Every marketer should be aware of notable differences between Universal Analytics vs. GA4 data. These include:

  • Events: While Universal Analytics data is based on sessions and page views, GA4 data is based on events. You should therefore expect “pageviews” to be represented as an event. Notably, the events lack category, action, or labels that were present in Universal Analytics.
  • User interface: Universal Analytics features several data layers, including Account> Property>View. GA4 has fewer layers, including Account>Property.
  • Machine learning-backed insights: One of the notable new things with GA4 is the insights and predictions powered by AI. This technology can be used to predict outcomes that help anticipate the actions your customer might take in the future.
  • Customer life-cycle framed reporting: Another noticeable difference between GA3 and GA4 is how reports are organized. GA4 provides a complete view of how customers engage with your brand across channels and devices. Additionally, it allows you to locate users with an ID for better reporting and targeting.
  • Data compliance features: GA4 provides options to help you comply with data regulations like CCPA and GDPR. The phasing out of third-party cookies makes sparse data the norm. Machine learning in GA4 helps maintain reporting accuracy by filling in the data gaps.


Best practices for GA4

The following are some of the best practices for switching to GA4, as shared by some of the leading industry experts:


Switch to GA4 early

One of the common questions many marketers ask is whether they need to switch to Google Analytics 4 now. The short answer is yes. Making a switch early enough allows you to have most of your historical data in GA4 by the time it becomes mandatory to use it. It is advisable to set up GA4 now, even if it will run alongside your Universal Analytics. Although you may not have any plans to use it immediately, you get ample time to collect data and strengthen your machine learning (ML) models to make the switch seamless when the deadline lapses.


Use compatible version

Before you make your switch, ensure you are using the GA4 version that is compatible with your platform. Before implementing any changes, determine whether your platform of choice is compatible with GA4. Based on your findings, you will either postpone your GA4 implementation or use an alternative analytics tool.


Learn the tricks of installing GA4

Generally, the method you choose to install GA4 on your site is primarily based on your technical expertise and your website software. However, many GA4 experts advise you use Google Tag Manager (GTM). GTM allows you to seamlessly deploy GA4 tags on your website or app. it gives you better controls regarding how and when to collect data.


Adjust configurations for data collection

Adjusting configurations appropriately helps improve your default data collection process. Specifically, increase data retention by 14 months. By default, GA4 allows you to retain raw data in the system for two months. However, you can adjust this to 14 months in Property Settings. However, if there are privacy concerns, keep your data for a short time.


Test GA4 before going live

Ensure you test GA4 before going live. Debugging and testing before publishing guarantees data is coming in and displaying correctly. Leverage your GA4 testing property to test any new configuration setting before going live.


The digital marketing experts at Kevin Brown Design are ready to make your website compatible with the new GA4 version you are implementing. We offer cutting-edge web design solutions to increase your online sales. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.