Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics (UA) on July 1, 2023. On this date all UA properties will cease to process new hits (read: track new visitor data). If you’re using UA – the standard free version of Google Analytics today - to track, measure and analyze your website data, you need to take notice.
GA4 is no longer optional; it’s time to make the switch (or find another solution!)
What does this mean for you?
After July 1 next year, your current UA set-up will stop tracking any new website visitor data. Your existing data will be available for just a further 6 months.
It’s important to note that GA4 will only record metrics once you’ve set up your properties and configured tracking. Failure to do that now means you will miss historical data – meaning no YoY comparisons starting next July, unless you’re set up and running in GA4 by the same date this year.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to set up your GA4 properties to avoid any gaps in tracking!
Let’s meet GA4…
Launched in October 2020, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a significant departure from Universal Analytics:
- Where Universal Analytics was built around page views and sessions, GA4 uses an event-based operating model to track and record online behavior
- Its aim is to provide a more complete cross-channel view of the customer lifecycle, across desktop, mobile and apps, with an emphasis on users and what they are doing on across these platforms
- It uses data-driven attribution to assign credit to more than simply the last click, allowing you to see how different marketing campaigns and activities are influencing conversions
- It doesn’t rely exclusively on cookies – which are being phased out – and instead leverages machine learning to fill in any data gaps; good news in the face of new and increasing data privacy regulations
All of this means a very different back-end approach to set-up and configuration of data tracking.
The new GA4 interface and reports also look considerably different to the reports available in Universal Analytics. New features will make it easier to track and measure actions including page scrolls without having to configure extra code. There are a new set of engagement metrics; bounce rate, for example, will no longer exist.
This also requires a re-evaluation of the metrics that matter to your business, a reset on actions and conversion tracking, and a refresh of your current reporting views and dashboards.
A 5-step GA4 action plan:
- Create a GA4 property to run in tandem with your existing Universal Analytics property
- Configure your admin settings and check that data is being tracked and stored correctly
- Start tracking automatic events, to give you some numbers to get familiar with
- Map out the data you want to be able to track – this is a chance to rethink the role of your website, what’s important, and what engagement and actions matter!
- Customize your reporting views, and experiment with new engaging dashboards
And of course, the data is only a first step. Website traffic metrics are only valuable when you’re connecting the dots through to your sales and conversion funnel, and back-up to your marketing and comms activities.
The time is now!
- May-June – set up your GA4 properties
- July 1, 2022 – make sure you’re tracking GA4 data by now, to avoid losses in YoY comparisons next year
- Q3 2022 – use this time to get familiar with the tool and refresh the objectives and KPIs for your website
- Q4 2022 – level up and customize your tracking and reporting views
- Q1 2021 – this is the time to transition to sole use of GA4, well ahead of the deadline
- July 1, 2023 – Goodbye UA!
- January 2024 – Farewell historical data…
And finally… don’t panic! You’re not alone. Marketers everywhere, used to the familiar and friendly UA platform, are making this transition. Get in touch with your Cognito digital team to find out more and see how we can help support this transition.