Google’s recent announcement that it will begin sunsetting Universal Analytics—also known as Google Analytics 3 (GA3), the previous generation of Analytics—next year was not entirely unexpected, but it may have you wondering what you need to do to prepare. In this post, we’ll break down the five steps you can take to get your business ready for the transition, which will start on July 1, 2023. By making a few changes now, you’ll be able to take advantage of the newest features that Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has to offer, and make sure your analytics don’t miss a beat.
Step #1: Enable Google Tag Manager
While there are two ways to operate Google Analytics, it is highly recommended that you use a tag management tool versus hard-code the Java script itself onto your webpage. The most common tag management system (TMS) is Google Tag Manager, a free tool that allows you to quickly and easily update measurement code and related code fragments (collectively known as tags) on your website or mobile app. By adding a TMS, tracking with GA4 will be a much easier and more seamless process for all involved.
Step #2: Create Your GA Property & Add to Google Tag Manager
In Google Analytics, the term “property” is used to describe a website, mobile application, blog, etc., that is associated with a unique tracking ID— in other words, a property is a location where data is sent. You will want to create a separate, stand-alone property for GA4, as this will make it easier to properly migrate the data from your site.
As clients prepare for the Universal Analytics sunset, many are choosing to run both GA4 and GA3 simultaneously, as this allows them to conduct a side-by-side comparison of the two. Due to changes in the data model for GA4, some numbers will be slightly different, and it’s important to understand how that impacts your metrics.
What’s the biggest difference between GA3 and GA4?
The most significant difference between GA3 and GA4 has to do with how data is measured. GA3 uses measurement based on sessions and pageviews, whereas GA4 is based on events and parameters. Since GA4 classifies any activity by a user on your site (e.g. how far down someone scrolls on a page, how long they spend on a screen) as an “event,” it provides even greater insight into how users are engaging with your content.
Step #3: Deploy GA4 on All Pages
Step #4: Implement All Custom Requirements
In order to take full advantage of the insights that GA4 can offer, be sure to apply all the custom requirements on your website and implement unique events and event parameters. Sproutward can help you create a measurement strategy and custom implementation guide to meet your specific site’s requirements. For example, if you want to be able to identify the page from which a user added a product to their cart, you will need to set the specific event parameters tied to the add to cart event.
Step #5: Conduct a Data Audit
The final step in getting your business ready for the Universal Analytics sunset is to review all the changes that were made, identify missing components, and debug any issues. Following these post-migration checks, you will then be able to connect GA4 to other applications like Google Data Studio to build dashboards, etc.
Grow Your E-Commerce Business with Analytics that Transform
Technology is constantly evolving, and with it, businesses must also make changes to keep up and progress. By taking these five steps, you’ll not only be helping your company get ready for the Universal Analytics sunset, but you’ll also be equipping your team with the tools they need to advance into the future.
Want to get even more out of your data? Google Analytics is just one piece of the metrics puzzle, and Polaric by Sproutward is an end-to-end, totally customizable solution that automatically connects, combines, and analyzes ALL your data—so you can make better decisions to grow your business. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or just starting out, we can help you scale efficiently. Leave us your info, and we’ll be in touch shortly.