For Marketers that want to migrate to Google Analytics 4: A Quick Guide

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) was released in October 2020, therefore we’ve put together this brief guide for marketers who want to move their current web properties to it in the most accurate way possible.

The current version of Google Analytics (also known as UA or Universal Analytics) will be phased out in favour of GA4 in June 2023. GA4 will be in use for the foreseeable future, thus it’s imperative that your data is transferred properly to avoid losing any information.

It’s possible that when you sign in to Google Analytics, you’ll notice a GA4 Set-Up Assistant in the admin section. Following the assistant’s instructions should be enough for experienced GA users, but you may lose out on important data that you had previously.

You should be aware of the following changes before making the move:

In addition to Google’s announcement and other resources, here are some key points to keep in mind before making the switch:

  • Instead of relying on page views, GA4 employs a new sort of measurement that is based on events (which used events as a custom tracking option)
  • The tags are different if you’re using Google Tag Manager.
  • For this purpose, you will require a new Google Analytics property.
  • The UI is completely different from anything you’ve ever encountered.
  • In Universal Analytics, certain data is not yet available in the same form as you can currently see it.

Never fear: Your information is presently secure and will not be compromised. GA4 will include much of the data you presently get from UA.

Stages of migration

“Changing the old code into the new code” is not as simple as it seems. Therefore, as various types of data are being gathered in different ways, we advocate a phased approach to GA4 conversion. In addition to, but not limited to, here are some examples:

  • Tracking page views
  • Tracking of events
  • Tracking of Online Sales
  • integrating different platforms

We propose the following for a phased approach:

Phase 1: Pageviews and standard events may be tracked using a GA4 property.
Phase 2: Put KPI-related events in place, such as form fills.
Phase 3: E-commerce events should be implemented.
Phase 4: Add a new custom tracking system (e.g. non-KPI events, custom dimensions, integrations)
Phase 5: After the data has been collected, do a comprehensive implementation audit and make any necessary improvements.
As soon as the implementation is complete, you’ll be able to report from GA4 alongside UA.

After a year of gathering data from GA4, we recommend moving all reporting from UA to GA4, including custom reporting and dashboarding.

We’ll provide a general outline of what has to be done in each phase below.
Keep in mind: If you utilise a plugin for any of your GA tracking (such as WordPress or Shopify) find out how these may be connected to GA4. There may be a possibility to run GA4 and UA at the same time, although some plugins may be restricted. I propose contacting your plugin’s developer or testing Google Tag Manager’s GA4 integration to see if it works for you.

GA4’s standard tracking (which includes page views)

Create a new web property in GA4 to start your migration. This may be done via the Upgrade Assistant or by going to the admin section and choosing the “+Create New Property” option.

Select all of your website’s “normal” event tracking options that are relevant to you.

  • Pageviews
  • Scrolls
  • Outbound clicks
  • Video engagement
  • File downloads

Create a new “GA4 Configuration” tag to fire on all pages if you’re using Google Tag Manager.

If you’re hard-coding, include the GA4 gtag on all of your website’s pages.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll start receiving some basic data in your new GA4 property.

GA4’s event tracking

The former “category, action, label” configuration has changed, and events will need to be re-scoped according to your measurement strategy.

Although “Event Name” basically replaces “Event Category,” you must now decide on any granular data (that were previously contained under action and label) as an event parameter. This gives you more flexibility, but it requires more steps than before to set up event tracking.

Determine which “core” events you need to keep track of, for example,

  • Clicks
  • Submissions of forms
  • Enquiries
  • Website Errors
  • Downloads

To be measured as a goal, all objectives that were previously “destination” goals need to be reported as events.

Determine which parameters are required for each core event in order to distinguish them. Note that the parameter name must begin with a letter and must contain letters, digits, or underscores.

  • Click_Type (KPI, Nav, Text Link)
  • Form_Name (Contact Us, Job Application)
  • Enquiry_Method (Form, Email, Phone)
  • Error_Message (page not found, invalid input)
  • File_Type (PDF, MP3, DOC)
  • File_Name (Q1_Performance_Update_2020, Order_Spreadsheet) For Google Tag Manager:

Create a new “GA4 Event” tag with the event and parameter names you want to use.

Use the same triggers as before, as well as any extra triggers that are necessary for new occurrences.

Follow the GA4 Event Measurement procedure for hardcoding.

Create the events you wish to track in Google Analytics (either in admin or in Events > All Events).

Add the names of the parameters you wish to track in Google Analytics. Each parameter in the manage custom definitions section has to have its definitions managed in this manner.

Now you should be able to see all of the events you wish to track in your new GA4 property.

GA4 Ecommerce Tracking
Ecommerce tracking in GA4 is identical to Event tracking, however, Google Analytics employs particular settings by default, which implies data will be published to an eCommerce report:

Work with your developers to deploy the e-commerce tracking code measurement on your website.

GTM tagging:

  • Implement the revised dataLayer schema for eCommerce with your developers.
  • Create an event tag for Parameters and Event Name: purchase.
  • Create any event tags with any necessary parameters for any other relevant eCommerce events (e.g. view cart, refund).

Here is the whole list.

  • Use the same e-commerce triggers as you did previously.
  • Data should be submitted to the report “Monetisation > E-commerce purchases” after this has been generated.
  • Steps to Take After You’ve Migrated
  • Now that everything is on track, we recommend taking the following last steps:
  • Make sure the data you anticipate is getting to the appropriate locations by debugging everything.
  • For your new GA property, go over all of your Google Analytics settings.
  • Any KPI event can be set as a goal.
  • Mark as conversion in Events>All Events.

To understand the data discrepancies, compare the data in GA4 to the data in Universal Analytics.

Make a list of any future integrations that will need to be updated (dashboarding, databases, marketing platforms, plugins, etc)
Make data review points, especially because GA4 is fresh and some of this might change in six months!

Plan how to integrate GA4 with the rest of the company (training, reporting, etc.)

The significance of properly moving to GA4
You’ll need a GA4 property to migrate so you don’t lose data — as Google phases out Universal Analytics (the most recent technique for processing data), your existing data will no longer be gathered, and you’ll need a GA4 property instead.

Because of the differences in data gathering, you’ll need to make a lot of modifications and test them before you can create a like-for-like clone of your present dataset.

In addition, the reporting interface is brand new, so getting used to it will take some time. A side-by-side migration enables a smooth transition towards GA4 while maintaining your comfort level with Universal Analytics. You’ll have a better chance of avoiding data loss by getting started sooner rather than later.

Request a no-obligation quote for a GA4 migration project.

If you’d like a no-obligation estimate for us to migrate your existing GA setup to GA4, fill out your details here and we’ll send you a file to grant us one-time access to your GA property so we can give you an exact quote by email