When should you switch to GA4?

If you haven’t switched from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) yet, this could be your last chance to do so.

Last year, Google announced that GA4 will be replacing UA tracking, with new hits ceasing to process in July 2023 and old hits stopping in October 2023. This means if you haven’t switched your account over by July next year, you won’t be able to track new users to your website. But does this mean you still have time to sit on it?

If you regularly analyse seasonal behavior and trends, you need to switch over sooner rather than later. Although your old UA data won’t be removed entirely, it’s best practice to archive your KPIs a full year before the switch. This will allow you to compare and marry up both data sets, ironing out any discrepancies you may find. You’ll also need to set up your conversion goals, ecommerce, and events in GA4 to match your existing UA account. So, although the unofficial deadline to switch is in July 2023, we advise switching a year beforehand – or sooner if possible.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Originally the App + Web property type, Google are moving completely to GA4. With this property comes new benefits, including: increased privacy and future proofing, customer journey machine learning, and seamless integrations with Google’s advertising platforms. Along with these changes, there are also completely new dashboards and ways of reporting, streamlining much of the current UI.

However, as new tags are required on your web property and this switch isn’t automatic, you’ll need to implement changes on your website. Fortunately, if you already have Google Tag Manager, this should be fairly quick and easy.

How to make the switch to GA4

If you’re still on Universal Analytics, you’ve most likely seen a message at the top of your dashboard asking you to prepare for the switch. Simply click the “Let’s go” button to be taken to the instructions for what you need to do.

Get started with GA4

If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to set up a new property. Click “Get Started”, after which a new property will be created with a unique ID, which you’ll need to add into Google Tag Manager. The property will appear in the drop list of accounts, labeled as the original name of the UA property with “GA4” appended.

If you go into the admin dashboard in this property and select “Data Streams”, you’ll find the web data stream required for tracking. Click this to view the tag ID, which will begin with a G-. Copy this, ready for pasting into Google Tag Manager.

Setting up a GA4 tag

Next, go into Google Tag Manager and set up a new tag. From the existing featured tag types, choose “Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration”. Paste the ID you copied earlier into the Measurement ID field and finally, select all pages to trigger the tag. Once you publish the changes, you should start to see GA4 data population within 24 hours and you’re all set.

Setting up the GA4 ID

We do advise using the Google Tag Manager method as this is most user friendly, but there are other options to implement to GA4 tag through your CMS or hard coding, which you can view here.

Key Takeaways

The change is coming, so you’ll need to be on top of this. If you have a contract with an agency partner or an internal web team, ask them about migrating your tracking and analytics over to GA4 right now.

If you don’t have digital partners and would like more information, our team of digital specialists are happy to offer their advice. Contact us today.