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Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics | 4 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Now

If you’re already a business owner with an e-commerce store or someone who is a key stakeholder on a digital marketing team, you’ve probably heard the buzz about Google’s Universal Analytics retiring in July 2023.

And if you haven’t switched over to Google Analytics 4 yet, we’re almost sure that you’ve seen the warning upon login:

What does this actually mean? What is Google Analytics 4 and how is it different from Universal Analytics, or as we like to call it at SLTC, “regular Google Analytics”?

Google introduced Google Analytics 4 (GA4) two years ago with the intention of monitoring and measuring the complex ways that users were navigating the internet - via multi-platform journeys - and to do so in a way that respects privacy standards. Related, you may have heard that cookies are going away too . . . and while that’s a topic that could fill an entirely different blog, it's also one of the reasons why Google has upgraded its functionality--so that it can track user behavior while maintaining country-level compliance with the latest privacy regulations.

Google Analytics 4 has the flexibility to measure many different kinds of data, delivering a strong analytics experience that’s designed for the future. It allows businesses to see unified user journeys across their websites and apps, use Google’s machine learning technology to surface and predict new insights, and most importantly, it’s built to keep up with a changing ecosystem.

So, What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Many clients have asked us if they should upgrade to GA4 this year or wait until July 2023 to make these changes. At SLTC, we believe that the early bird gets the worm.

Tris Heaword, our Senior Performance Marketing Strategist, advises,

“Universal Analytics will stop processing data in July 2023, making it more difficult to compare year-over-year metrics. Upgrading to GA4 now will allow you to begin collecting, and have a benchmark of, information on the new platform--especially as we head into the 2022 holiday shopping season.”

If Tris’ perspective isn’t enough to convince you here are…

4 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics in 2022:

  • Understand your customers across touchpoints

Google Analytics 4 is designed with your key objectives in mind — like driving sales or app installs, generating leads, or connecting online and offline customer engagement. Once set up, you can get a complete view of the customer lifecycle with an event-based measurement model that isn’t fragmented by platform or organized into independent sessions.

  • Get greater value from your data

GA4 incorporates machine learning to generate sophisticated predictive insights about user behavior and conversions, creating new audiences of users likely to purchase or churn and automatically surfacing critical insights to improve your marketing.

  • Improve ROI with data-driven attribution

Related to the above, with GA4, you will be able to analyze the full impact of all marketing efforts across the customer journey. It assigns attribution credit to more than just the last click using your Analytics data and helps you understand how your marketing activities collectively influence your conversions. As an agency, we love that and we know that our clients will too.

  • Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 are not cross-compatible

As wonderful as Google tends to be, they did not allow Universal Analytics data to be uploaded into Google Analytics 4. Meaning, that the sooner you install Google Analytics 4 onto your website, the sooner you can start tracking data on that platform. As mentioned above, having that data as a benchmark is important for future reporting, so the sooner you can start collecting data on GA4, the more historical information you will have to look back upon.

How Do You Make the Switch to Google Analytics 4?

You can try to do it on your own by following this convoluted help article from Google or you can call the experts: us (recommended)!

We have developed a special service to move websites over to GA4, which involves working with our clients to determine their website goals and completing the checklist below (per website, as a minimum):

  • GA4 Single Property and Web Data Stream settings

  • Google Signal Activation

  • Enhanced measurement -Page views, Scrolls, Outbound Links, Site Search.

  • Product Linking

  • Filter Implementation

  • Major Engagement & Monetization Events Configuration (Ecommerce)

  • Advance Ecommerce events tracking (Ecommerce)

  • Funnel and Segment Overlap - Exploration Report Configuration (Ecommerce)

  • Collect Universal Analytics events

  • Domain Configurations, Subdomain, and Cross-domain Tracking

  • Custom Events Tracking

  • Advance Data Filters

  • Conversion Goal funnel setup (Ecommerce)

  • Site search tracking

  • Cross-Device Tracking

Interested in learning more about setting up Google Analytics 4 for your website?

Click here to book a call--we’d be happy to discuss this further with you. The best part is, you’ll probably get to meet with Tris too!


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