Reliable data is critical to inform your business strategies and drive the desired results. Which is why it’s likely your company has been using Universal Analytics for years. But with digital marketing technology constantly evolving, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest developments.
If you haven’t heard about Google Analytics 4 (GA4) yet, it’s high time you did. The latest iteration of the popular analytics platform, GA4 (aka the “new” Google Analytics) is said to offer significant improvements over Universal Analytics. This is more than just a Google Analytics update; it’s an entirely new property with different measurement models.
With time running out to make the transition before Google shuts down UA, it’s important to approach the move methodically with a well-developed plan. But first, let’s explore some considerations around GA4 and website visitor identification data. In other words, how does it affect the data LeadLander provides?
GA4 & Website Visitor Identification Data
There are specific considerations related to website visitor identification data when switching to GA4. This new platform collects and uses visitor identification data differently compared to Universal Analytics. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- User-ID tracking: In Universal Analytics, user-ID tracking was optional, and it allowed you to track the same user across multiple devices. In GA4, user-ID tracking is replaced by a new mechanism called “Cross-device reporting,” which provides similar functionality but with improved privacy controls.
- Client ID: The client ID is a unique identifier used to identify a user’s session in Google Analytics. In GA4, the client ID is generated automatically and stored in a first-party cookie, making it easier to track users across multiple sessions and devices.
- Anonymous data: GA4 provides enhanced privacy controls, including the ability to collect anonymous data by default. This means that, by default, GA4 only collects data that is not personally identifiable.
- GDPR and CCPA compliance: GA4 includes features to help businesses comply with data privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This includes the ability to configure cookie consent notices and control the collection and processing of personal data.
When switching to GA4, it’s important to keep these considerations in mind and to familiarize yourself with the new data collection and privacy controls offered by GA4. This will help ensure that your website visitor identification data is collected and used in a way that is both compliant with privacy regulations and beneficial for your business.
Challenges with Migrating to GA4
Newly released technology isn’t perfect, and GA4 is no exception. Google is still working out the kinks with the new platform, with certain users reporting issues with:
- Data migration: Some users have found it challenging migrating their data from Universal Analytics to GA4. Google has made some adjustments and developed additional guidance for the data migration process since then.
- Data accuracy: There have been reports of inaccuracies in GA4 data, particularly when it comes to sessions and user counts. Google is working to improve the accuracy of GA4 data and is regularly releasing updates to address these issues.
- Limited features: GA4 currently offers fewer features and customization options compared to Universal Analytics. Google is working to add more features to GA4 and is regularly releasing updates to improve the platform. The hope is that this new property will be more robust by the time Google deprecates UA.
- Reporting limitations: GA4 currently has limited reporting capabilities, particularly for e-commerce tracking and attribution, but Google has plans to improve these capabilities.
Despite the current limitations, Google is moving ahead with the new property, which means that businesses that rely on Google’s analytics platform must do so also.
Getting Started with the Move to GA4
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help your business transition from UA to GA4:
- Evaluate your current setup: Take a look at your UA implementation and determine what data is most important to your business. This will help you determine what needs to be included in your new setup.
- Create a GA4 property: To get started with GA4, you’ll need to create a new GA4 property in your Google Analytics account. This is where all your GA4 data will be stored.
- Set up data collection: GA4 collects data in a different way than Universal Analytics, so you’ll need to set up your data collection accordingly. Start by installing the GA4 tracking code on your website and configuring the data that you want to collect.
- Migrate existing data: If you want to bring over historical data from Universal Analytics, you’ll need to use Google’s data migration tool. This will allow you to bring over key metrics and dimensions to the new property.
- Configure reports and dashboards: GA4 provides a wide range of reports and dashboards that allow you to analyze your data in new and innovative ways. Take the time to configure these to meet your specific needs.
- Test your implementation: Before you go live with GA4, make sure to thoroughly test your implementation. This will help you identify and resolve any issues before they affect your data collection and analysis.
- Go live: Once you’re confident in your implementation, it’s time to go live! You can now start using GA4 to gain new insights into your digital marketing efforts.
The transition from Universal Analytics to GA4 can seem overwhelming at first, but with the right approach, it can be a smooth process. By making the switch, you’ll have access to new data and insights that can help you make better-informed decisions and drive better results for your business.
When Do You Need to Switch?
Google recently announced that UA will stop processing new website hits on July 1, 2023. For businesses currently using UA that haven’t yet moved to GA4 by March, Google will configure a basic GA4 instance to ensure continuity in website measurement. The company explained that this will include “certain conversion events, Google Ads links, and existing website tags” that are consistent with UA properties.
The sooner you make the switch, the more time your team will have to get comfortable with the new property and make the most of its data collection and analysis capabilities. Have questions about GA4? Contact us to see how LeadLander can help with the transition.