Migrating to Google Analytics 4: A Checklist for Success

The world of digital analytics saw a seismic shift with the introduction of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Being a departure from the older, Universal Analytics (UA) model, GA4 has introduced a multitude of changes in how data is collected, processed, and reported.

While change can be daunting, GA4’s focus on customer-centric data, improved privacy features, and advanced AI insights is something worth embracing. If you’re looking to transition from UA to GA4, this blog post will provide you with a comprehensive checklist to ensure a smooth migration.

Step 1: Understand the Difference Between UA and GA4

Before you begin migrating, it’s crucial to understand the key differences between UA and GA4. Google Analytics 4 introduces several new features and changes the way data is handled. For example, GA4 utilizes an event-based data model rather than session-based, which changes how user interactions are tracked and reported.

Step 2: Create a New GA4 Property

Creating a new GA4 property allows you to maintain your existing UA data and start collecting data with GA4 simultaneously. This approach will enable a smoother transition and provides an opportunity to compare data between the two systems.

To create a new GA4 property:

  1. Go to the Admin section in your Google Analytics account.
  2. Select the account and property you want to link to GA4.
  3. Click ‘GA4 Setup Assistant’ in the property column.
  4. Follow the prompts to create your new GA4 property.

Step 3: Configure Your GA4 Property

There are several elements you’ll need to configure in your new GA4 property, including:

  • Data Streams: Here, you’ll set up your web and app data sources.
  • Enhanced Measurement: GA4 allows automatic tracking for certain events. Decide which ones are relevant to your business and enable them.
  • Events: Configure any additional events you want to track beyond the ones automatically captured by GA4.
  • Conversions: Identify which events are most valuable to your business and mark them as conversions.
  • User Properties: These can be used to collect additional information about your users.

Step 4: Integrate with Google Ads

Integration with Google Ads allows for improved remarketing capabilities. To set this up:

  1. Navigate to ‘Admin’ in your GA4 property.
  2. Under ‘Property,’ select ‘Google Ads Linking.’
  3. Follow the steps to link your Google Ads account.

Step 5: Test Your Setup

Before fully transitioning, ensure that your new GA4 setup is working as intended. Consider checking:

  • Realtime reports: Realtime reports allow you to see whether your new property is receiving data.
  • DebugView: This feature in GA4 can help troubleshoot any tracking issues.
  • Comparison: Compare the data in your UA and GA4 property to see if there are significant discrepancies.

Step 6: Start Using GA4 alongside UA

It’s not recommended to switch off UA immediately. Instead, use both systems in parallel for a while. This gives you a chance to get familiar with GA4’s features and interfaces while still having access to your UA data.

Step 7: Train Your Team

Make sure your team is familiar with the new GA4 interface, the changes in reporting, and any new features that will be utilized. Provide training if needed.

Step 8: Plan for Full Transition

Finally, develop a plan for when you’ll fully transition to GA4. This will likely depend on how quickly you and your team become comfortable with GA4, as well as when Google eventually sunsets UA.

Remember, migrating to Google Analytics 4 isn’t just about checking off items on a list.