What is Google Analytics?
Does your website use an analytics program to show you how and when visitors are coming to your site? If so, it’s most likely the free version of Google Analytics. And to understand how to setup Google Analytics 4, you need to understand the basics of Google Analytics account.
“…the tools, free of charge, to understand the customer journey and improve marketing ROI.”
Why is Google Analytics important?
Your business needs data to tell you how many visitors are coming to your website. You should also know when they’re coming and what they’re doing there.
In addition, you need to know which website users complete important actions on your website to improve your business results. These could be sales, form fills, email subscriptions or other actions depending on your business model.
By knowing your best-performing channels and content, you can do more things that drive the results you want. This way, you can improve your website and business performance over time.
Universal Analytics will be sunsetted from July 1, 2023
Google Analytics launched its free Universal Analytics (UA) product in 2013. Many websites have been using this version until now.
In October 2020, Google launched an update of the product, known as Google Analytics 4 (GA4.)
It hasn’t been compulsory to upgrade from UA to GA4 until now. Many marketers and business owners have preferred to continue using Universal Analytics given now.
All of this is about to change, however. Google recently started showing all Universal Analytics users the following message:
“Universal Analytics will no longer process new data in standard properties beginning July 1, 2023. Prepare now by setting up and switching over to a Google Analytics 4 property.”
This means that you need to set up a Google Analytics 4 property to get ready for the end of the previous version of Google Analytics.
Why has Google made this change?
“…it enables marketers to measure users interactions within mobile and single-page apps, and it attempts to correct data that has been corrupted by cookie restrictions and user consent choices in a privacy-safe way.”
It’s essentially an update to Google Analytics that acknowledges the importance of mobile and apps. It also tries to deal with ongoing privacy changes given recent global privacy concerns and legislative changes.
GA4 is designed to make the data easier to interpret for marketers by aligning the reports with the marketing funnel or buyer journey. The stages are split between acquisition, engagement and monetisation.
Google has spent time designing the program to point to immediate insights, rather than requiring extensive report building.
How do I set up Google Analytics 4?
To setup Google Analytics 4, you need to be logged into Google Analytics as an Admin to set up a GA4 property.
Once you have logged in:
- Select the Admin button on the bottom left-hand side of your existing UA property
- In the second column of the Admin section, under ‘Property’, select ‘GA4 Setup Assistant’
- Select ‘I want to create a new Google Analytics 4 property’
The wizard will then set up your new Google Analytics 4 property, including a new data stream.
You may need to talk to your developer or development team to place your new GA4 tag into your website code. Alternatively, you could access your Google Tag Manager account to place the new GA4 tag on your website.
LovesData has a detailed video that walks through this process step by step, including how to add your tag details to Google Tag Manager.
What about my existing data in Universal Analytics?
Google has said that it will stop processing new hits from the 1st of July 2023. Old data will not be deleted, but new data will not be added from this date.
We haven’t yet confirmed if it will be possible to export Universal Analytics data and import this into your new Google Analytics 4 account. OptimizeSmart has created a guide to importing data into Google Analytics 4 however.
Setting up a GA4 property now will ensure that you have as much data as possible in your new account before Google sunsets the existing product. It’s therefore time to set up your new Google Analytics 4 property now.
Why is this important to do right now?
You can continue using your Google Analytics Universal Analytics account until the 1st of July 2023.
However, setting up a Google Analytics 4 account now will benefit you as:
- You can set up and use GA4 and UA properties at the same time in your Google Analytics account.
- It will help you get ready for the change from the 1st July 2023.
- It will enable you to gather data from this point onwards. Having historical data in your account can be extremely useful to identify trends.
- You can set up the appropriate events, goals, filters and more so that your account is running smoothly by the 1st July 2023.
- Google Analytics 4 properties are also free to use.
We are therefore recommending that all of our clients set up a GA4 property now.