If you have a Google Analytics account attached to your website — as all our Ruby Slipper website clients do — then no doubt you’ve been getting notification emails from Google that look something like this:
All standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on July 1, 2023, and 360 Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on October 1, 2023. After that, you’ll be able to access your previously processed data in Universal Analytics for at least 6 months. Make the move over to Google Analytics 4 as soon as possible to build the necessary historical data before Universal Analytics stops processing new hits.
It’s big news!
And while we agree that change can be good, this one comes with a big learning curve. For analytics users who regularly rely on Google for key website and marketing insights (like us), it means migrating to a totally new platform and learning the ropes. So here we are!
In 2020, when Google announced that GA4 was going to be the future, we decided to roll up our sleeves and get up close and personal with the new platform. Here’s what we know and recommend when it comes to migrating over to GA4.
At first, jumping into GA4 might feel like treading water in the deep-end pool. Much of the data has been reorganized, renamed, and in some cases — entirely removed.
- Tracking IDs are now Measurement IDs
- Goals are now Conversion Events
- Properties are now Streams
- And bye-bye to Behavior Flow Charts
So what’s the good news?
We’ve found and heard that if you’re not familiar with Google Analytics, the new platform is much easier to digest at first look. The dashboard on the login screen gives a quick overview of major stats, and the navigation is more user-friendly than the Universal Analytics version.
Other new big perks include:
- Better measurement of website interactions (clicks, scrolls, time on a page, video views, etc)
- Better user privacy options
- Cross-domain tracking (like if you have example.com and blog.example.com)
- Cross-device tracking (to see if visitors are using multiple devices to visit your site)
- Funnel reporting to visualize the steps visitors took to complete a task
- Tracking for both websites and mobile apps
GA4 Questions & Answers
Here are our best answers to some of the common emails and phone call questions we’ve fielded.
Why is Universal Analytics going away?
Google Analytics is the most widely used website analytics platform — so this change is big! Google cites the transition to GA4 as a starting point for built-in machine learning (which GA4 is starting to do). It’s like AI — learning and shifting and making recommendations over time. And GA4 also integrates with the Google Cloud, which means more connections across multiple Google products.
Is GA4 free?
Yes, Google says that GA4 is a free service, just like Universal Analytics has been.
When should I migrate to GA4?
Ideally, you should have a GA4 account in place as soon as possible, so you start accruing data ASAP. You can have both Universal Analytics and GA4 collecting data on your website at the same time, which we recommend for anyone who already has Universal.
How will the switch impact my reports and data?
Any reports you currently collect from Universal Analytics will have to be reconfigured with your new GA4 property. If you’re an Orange or Red Poppy Ruby Care client and receive a monthly Ruby Report from us, those reports will change after June 2023. We’re working now to set up comparable data collection, so that you’ll still be able to see your most-valuable insights (like page visits, link clicks, referral sources, devices, and more).
If you’re a current Ruby Slipper client and would like us to assist you with making the switch, please fill out our Work Request Form and Erin will be in touch to set up a migration date. Otherwise, Google has a suite of articles to assist you with setting up a new GA4 property yourself.
We’re still learning the ins-and-outs of GA4, too — along with the rest of the world. This is a big switch from the analytics we’ve used and loved for years, and Google says it expects to continue rolling out new features and technology over the next year and beyond. The good news is that we’ll be right there learning with everyone else, and our goal is to fall in love with the new GA4 so that we can pass on all the winning highlights to you, too.