As you may have heard by now, Google will be sunsetting their Universal Analytics, and in its place, you’ll be forced to upgrade to Google Analytics 4 (Called GA4).
Unlike many of Google’s product development updates that happen behind the scenes, this Google Analytics upgrade consists of a completely new platform and interface, which necessitates a fresh new install of GA4, as there is no simple “upgrade” button to click.
Because of this, there are some steps you will want to take to ensure that all of your website, app and digital properties continue to track correctly before Universal Analytics stops processing new data on July 1, 2023.
Step 1: Determine if you have a GA4 account already, or if you need to create a new one.
Often, companies aren’t sure if they already have a GA4 account, or if their previous agency set one on their behalf. Luckily, it is very easy to determine what type of analytics account you have, so you can take the proper steps to roll out GA4. This article from Google outlines how to tell if you have GA4 or if you have Universal Analytics.
Step 2: Determine Account Structure. Because GA4 processes data in a different way, it’s important to consider how you want the data to flow into Analytics so that you can set the structure that works best for your business. There are many nuances here, so it is best to consult with someone (or Agency) who is versed in the many iterations and can guide you into the best, most intuitive way to process and show your data. Again, Google comes to the rescue with a nice article full of examples of how you might want to set things up.
Step 3: Create GA4 Property
In Google Analytics, click the gear icon, then “Admin” (lower left).
In the Account column, ensure your desired account is selected. If you only have one Google Analytics account, it will already be selected.
In the Property column, select the Universal Analytics property that currently collects data for your website.
In the Property column, click GA4 Setup Assistant. Click “Get started” under “I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property.”
If your site uses the gtag.js, tag, you have the option to Enable data collection using your existing tags.
Step 4: Create GA4 Data Stream
In the Property column, click Data Streams, then Add stream. Ensure you are toggled in the correct account and property.
Click iOS app, Android app, or Web.
Step 5: Enable Data Collection
This is where you’ll want to make sure the GA4 code is placed on the actual pages of the website itself. Using Google Tag Manager here is an easy way to make this happen, though, it isn’t the only way. For Tag Manager, you’ll follow the below:
- In Google Tag Manager, Click Tags > New.
- Click Tag Configuration.
- Select Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration.
- Enter your measurement ID (visible from the previous step in Google Analytics)
- Keep the “Send a page view event when this configuration loads” option checked to automatically send page views.
- Optional: Click the Send to server container checkbox to send all events associated with this GA4 configuration to the specified Server Container URL for use with a Tag Manager server container, instead of directly to Google Analytics.
- Optional: Add any parameters you'd like to configure in Fields to Set. Use recommended event parameter names for best results.
- Optional: Add any custom user properties that you'd like to configure in User Properties. Note: Analytics automatically logs some user properties. You can set up to 25 additional user properties per Google Analytics 4 property.
- Optional: Click Triggering and use the Initialization trigger to ensure that the Google Analytics 4 Configuration tag fires before other triggers.
- Click “Triggering” and select appropriate events that would cause the tag to fire.
- Save the tag configuration and publish your container. (Button on top right side)
Step 6: Map Events from Universal Analytics to GA4 (if necessary). There is a lot to discuss when it comes to mapping events in GA4, and because each website/data collection process is different, this is a good opportunity to “clean up” and evaluate the events that are being captured. Details on this step can be found here.
Step 7: Migrate Goals to GA4
Depending on the amount and type of goals that you’re using in Universal Analytics, it might be easier to re-create the Goals in GA4 rather than trying to import them. Event Goals, Destination Goals, and Engagement goals from different views can, however, be mapped over, each with a different process.
Unless you have 15+ Goals, our recommendation would be to rebuild the goals in GA4, and use this opportunity to parse any outdated goals which are no longer active or needed. Full instructions can be found here.
Step 8: Import Conversions from GA4 to Google Ads (if necessary).
To do this, you’ll want to log into Google Ads then follow the steps below.
- In the top right, click “Tools and Settings” (Wrench Icon)
- Click “Measurement” and then “Conversions”.
- In the top left, click the (+) Conversion.
- Click “+ New conversion action.”
- Click Import, select Google Analytics 4 property, then click “Continue”.
- Select each conversion event you want to import, then click Import and continue.
- Click Done when finished.
Worth noting, Google Ads marks your imported Google Analytics 4 conversions as "primary" conversion actions automatically. Google Ads conversion tracking starts importing the data from your Analytics account starting from the day you clicked Import and historical data from before this date is not added to conversion tracking, nor can it be added.
That's all there is to it! You're now done setting up Google Analytics 4 and will be prepared when the official transition of Universal Analytics takes place!
Still confused? Not to worry! We handle all kinds of Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager tracking projects. Feel free to contact us here and let us know what you need!