Are you ready for Google Analytics 4, aka GA4?
In less than two months, this completely new data measurement solution is set to replace Universal Analytics (UA), Google’s system launched in 2013. With UA ceasing data collection on July 1, 2023, it’s critical you get up to speed on Google’s newest and most advanced data collection tool. You'll be able to see UA reports for a short time period after that; however, new data will only flow into Google Analytics 4 properties.
At Cain & Company, a full-service marketing and advertising agency, we are helping our clients learn about GA4, convert to the new system, and strategize how to extract the appropriate data to meet their needs.
GA4 Testing & Education
Over the past few months, Cain & Company Digital Media Director Greg Johnson has been running both systems simultaneously to keep a pulse on the new property and watch for any potential GA4 anomalies.
“The actual website traffic may look like it has gone down a bit because Google is tracking things differently in the new system,” Johnson said.
More than an upgrade, GA4 is a newly engineered system with the goal of providing comprehensive marketing performance data and recommendations based on today’s devices and operating systems with flexibility for future technologies. With a new dashboard, GA4 shows you not only the number of visitors to your website, but also their online actions via cross-device and cross-data tracking.
While UA has tracked a website’s number of new users and sessions, or page views, per month, GA4 compiles data on events, or webpage interactions. Having Google anticipate what users need and guide them toward a certain action can add layers of complexity to the system, making expert guidance advisable for most clients.
A Seamless Transition for Clients
It’s important to migrate to GA4 as soon as possible. If you haven’t upgraded, Google may have created a new GA4 property for you. However, you will need to adjust your settings to ensure the correct data is being tracked to reach your goals and to apply the tracking code on your website.
“It’s difficult if you don’t know what you are doing,” Johnson said. “When users go in to change their analytics dashboard, they are taken through a step-by-step process that may not yield what they really need.”
It’s advisable to run GA4 alongside UA until UA stops collecting data so you get familiar with the new system.
Cain & Company offers a one-time service, Google Analytics for Transition, to set up your new account, customize it to track the data you are seeking, and show you how to oversee your own data management.
Johnson cautions users without extensive analytics experience against trying to set up their own account and modify the new dashboard. It can be difficult for users who may not know what data they are looking for, how to connect ad words to Google Analytics, or how to use the search console to determine keywords.
In the event Google has set up a GA4 account for you, it may not be connected to your old account. Johnson can link the two accounts and ensure historical data from the old system is exported and saved as it might not translate to the new system. Helping clients identify and extract the data most useful to their business is an additional service Cain & Company can provide.
GA4 Ongoing Management
Cain & Company also offers website hosting services, including design and development, search engine optimization (SEO), digital advertising programs, marketing automation/customer relationship management (CRM), mobile app development, and more. Because data collection is a key component of overall marketing objectives and web management, Cain & Company monitors data and generates detailed monthly reports customized to client needs.
“We are dedicated and prepared to take care of all aspects of the GA4 transition to ensure our clients will be able to optimize this groundbreaking tool now and in the future,” Johnson said.