By now, you’ve probably heard about GA4, Google’s new iteration of Analytics that has been the talk of the marketing world for several months. Marketers, brand ambassadors, and even small business owners are still trying to wrap their heads around the differences between these new analytics and its soon-to-be predecessor “Universal Analytics.” If you’re like them, you might find yourself asking “When should we jump aboard the GA4 train?”
The reality is, if you haven’t at least begun the process of migrating from UA to GA4, you’re falling behind. It’s time to “phone a friend” and get started ASAP! Universal Analytics is set to retire as of July 1, 2023, and its historical data purged as of January 1,2024. The clock is ticking, but you still have time.
The Biggest Upgrades
Before we get into why you need to make the switch now, let’s point out the biggest upgrades from UA to GA4:
1.) Machine Learning:
GA4 comes with built-in machine learning algorithms that can help marketers and businesses with trends, get insights, and recommendations based on the data it’s collecting. With GA4’s new data-driven attribution, you can say goodbye to the last click/session-based attribution. GA4’s new data-driven attribution will provide data based on specific events happening on your website that you have defined or that come preset within GA4 (which is another big difference from UA).
2.) Data Privacy:
The importance of data privacy increased exponentially due to regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. GA4 offers more robust protection of your data as well as privacy controls.
3.) Cross-Device Tracking:
GA4 takes cross-device tracking to the next level with new capabilities of tracking behavior across both website and app, which allows you to better understand the journey your customers are taking over multiple touchpoints.
4.) Direct Integrations:
Currently GA4 syncs directly with Google Ads so that your conversion actions as well as audiences can be tracked within the dashboard and reports.
The Four Reasons to Switch Now
Those are just a few of the differences between GA4 and Universal Analytics which are good enough reasons to make the switch alone, however, there are four important reasons why you should switch immediately:
1.) Historical data
GA4 only tracks data from its implementation, so you won’t have your current UA data (along with your new GA4 data) to view trends or historical performance. The sooner you switch to GA4, the sooner it can begin archiving your data.
2.) Conversions / Audiences:
With the fundamental changes in how GA4 tracks activity on your site compared to UA, your current goals/audiences in UA will not port over to GA4. You’ll need to create new events/conversion actions, and audiences in GA4. To use them effectively inside your Google Ads campaigns, there must be enough established data. So even if you aren’t planning on “flipping the switch” until July 1st, getting these set up now will allow ample time for GA4 to build up enough data for your conversions/audiences.
3.) Time to get familiar:
There’s no way around it, GA4 is a different platform. Sure there are similar-looking pages and built-in reports that will look familiar, but as of now, GA4 hasn’t built in many of the reports you probably consider “standard” or reports that you probably view quite a bit. Instead, GA4 gives you much greater flexibility on how to view your data. Through the use of a new tool called “Explorer,” you can customize views and pull data in any way you need to see instead of being “boxed in” by standard built-in reports. While this can be challenging at first to navigate, once you familiarize yourself with this tool you’ll see how beneficial it is to be able to create views of your data that are of the greatest importance to your business.
4.) Clean-up tracking:
It’s a great opportunity for you to rethink your current tracking and data collection setup and make improvements to or completely abandon legacy tracking that was never used for anything.
As GA4 continues to evolve, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest version. They’re continuing to release updates, fixes, and functionality as it comes closer to its official release so partner with an agency that can guide you through the process. If you haven’t broached the GA4 subject yet for your business, now is the time. If you need help with the process, our team can guide you through it. Don’t wait until it’s too late – make the switch to GA4 now!
Marc Cerniglio is the Data & Automation Lead at Chacka Marketing. Over the last five years at Chacka, he has created and oversees the automated data infrastructure for the company and for our clients. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, friends and coaching his son’s baseball teams.