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Goodbye, Universal Analytics. Hello, Google Analytics 4.

Google Analytics 4

If you use Google Analytics on your website, you may have been receiving emails from Google on how you must upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 – its next-generation analytics solution.

At 2POINT, we’re routinely getting queries from our clients on what Google Analytics 4 is, if upgrading is essential, and what the Universal Analytics to Google Analytics migration process works like.

So we decided to do a post to answer all your questions!

Let’s start with the most pressing one…

… Do you HAVE to upgrade to Google Analytics 4?

YES.

Important things to know about the switch:

  • Universal Analytics will stop recording and processing your website data on July 1, 2023, when it gets completely phased out.
  • Your existing Universal Analytics data will be accessible tentatively till December 2023, after which you’ll lose access to all your historical data.
  • Your Google Ads campaigns will get impacted if you’ve linked your Google Ads campaigns with your Universal Analytics account (when features like importing Universal Analytics audiences for ad campaigns stop working on July 1, 2023).

So yes, you have to migrate to Google Analytics 4.

When should you make the switch from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4?

Universal Analytics

Google’s set a deadline: July 1, 2023.

You are required to upgrade before that.

But if you ask us, the best time to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 is NOW.

Why?

Because your Google Analytics 4 property will start capturing your analytics data as soon as you create it and complete its setup (as we’ll see below).

Now, suppose you continue to use Universal Analytics until July 1, 2023.

In this case, all your data until that day will live on Universal Analytics. There’s no way you can import it to your new Google Analytics 4 account at the moment.

You read it right: you can’t move over your historical Universal Analytics data to Google Analytics 4.

And, likely, it won’t be possible even in the future as both measurement solutions work pretty differently.

What should you do with your historical data?

GA4

You can export the reports you need or your entire data and save it for later. Also, while Universal Analytics will stop capturing new data on July 1, 2023, it will still let you access your historical data for six months after the phasing out – so you have about a year to move and archive your data.

Before we see how you can upgrade from your current Universal Analytics account to Google Analytics 4, let’s look at some of the key benefits the Google Analytics update offers.

Benefits of Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) helps you zoom in on your buyer’s journey to understand user behavior and the key touchpoints along the path to conversion.

Here are some of the key benefits Google Analytics 4 offers:

  • Automatic information capture (without needing you to set up events). For example, GA4 offers built-in tracking for events like scrolls, outbound clicks, and site searches. Event setup, too, is fairly simplified in Google Analytics 4.
  • Privacy-friendly features like built-in IP anonymization feature. Also, GA4 doesn’t log IP addresses.
  • New and advanced reporting tools. Among these is its funnel exploration report, which shows how your users reached a goal with granular reporting on events like product views, clicks, etc.
  • Unified data across your different devices and channels and even presents them better visually.
  • New engagement metrics for deeper insights into your audience behavior. Metrics like Engaged sessions – sessions where a user interacted with your site for at least 10 seconds – tell you more about how well your website connects with your audience.

GA4 also offers predictive analytics using machine learning to predict how many sales or first-time customers you could see in the next week.

So how do you upgrade?

Steps to upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 

Universal Analytics

Lack the expertise to make the switch? Go the easy way – let our Google Analytics experts do it for you. Get in touch to know more about our Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 migration service.

Setting up a property in GA4

First, you need to create a property in GA4. To do so, access the GA4 Setup Assistant tab under Property settings inside your account. Doing so copies your existing Universal Analytics property’s name, website URL, timezone, and currency settings as a new Google Analytics 4 property. Note that it doesn’t import any historical data from your existing Universal Analytics property. So this is a blank new property that will now start collecting your website analytics data once you complete the setup.

At this point, you’ll see two properties:

  • Your existing Universal Analytics property.
  • And your new GA4 property.

Google Analytics automatically ties the two together as they represent the same property essentially.

Readying the new GA4 property (so it can collect the data you’re collecting in your existing Google Analytics setup)

Next, you need to ensure that your new GA4 property starts collecting data, as GA4 doesn’t automatically collect data. You need to set up tagging to have your GA4 property collect your desired data.

You’ve two options here when it comes to tagging: You can either add your existing on-page tags or add new ones. So if you use a solution like Google Tag Manager for managing tags on your existing Universal Analytics property (to record events like page views), use the existing on-page tags option.

This can be a long and tedious process, depending on the kind of tagging you currently use for your website analytics.

Setting up conversion tracking

Now you need to import your Universal Analytics goals to Google Analytics 4. Google’s offering a Goals migration tool to make recreating your existing Universal Analytics goals easier on Google Analytics.

Migrating to Google Analytics 4 for advertisers

If you’re using Google Analytics with your Google Ads account, you need to set up audiences as well in Google Analytics 4. In addition to migrating audiences, you must migrate your Google Ads links to your GA4 account, set up or import conversions, and build audiences for remarketing.

If you’re installing Google Analytics for the first time now – essentially making Google Analytics 4 the first Google Analytics version you ever implement on your website – the installation process looks different.

A fully done-for-you Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 migration service

Google Analytics

The Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 migration process is complex and has many moving parts. If you don’t know your way around Google Analytics or lack the needed skills in-house, check out our Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 migration service.

Here’s how our done-for-you Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 upgrade service works:

  • You give us access to your Google Analytics account.
  • Our Google Analytics experts will set up a Google Analytics 4 property for your existing Universal Analytics property.
  • And done – You can now revoke access.

Based on the accounts we’ve migrated, we take an average of 1.5 to 2 hours for each. But this varies depending on the account setup. Get in touch with your account details, and we can go from there.

Have questions? Reach out to schedule a free consultation.

About 2POINT

We are 2Point, a digital agency, creatively driven and data inspired. We work with ambitious brands around the world, handling all their digital production needs and helping them achieve increasingly higher sales goals.

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