Getting Ready for GA4: Mistakes to Avoid When Setting up Google Analytics 4
With the sunset of Universal Analytics confirmed for July 1, 2023, and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) moving in as Google’s sole analytics platform we are anticipating significant shift in the way businesses collect and analyze data about their customers’ behavior. While GA4 offers many advanced features and capabilities, setting it up can be tricky, and mistakes can lead to bad data and ultimately, poor business decisions. We’re here to ensure you avoid these common mistakes made during GA4 setup and tips that will help you thryve in this transition.
Mistake 1: Procrastinating
If you have yet to start GA4 set up, now is the time to jump right in and proactively make the switch. One of the main reasons that procrastinating this transition is a huge miss is the fact that there is no way to migrate historical data over from Univeral Analytics to GA4. This means you will have no historical data in the property until you create it, leaving less data for you to use to back your business decisions.
Take care of the basics by doing the following:
- Create your GA4 property and data stream.
- Place your GA4 tracking tag on your website or through Google Tag Manger.
Taking these steps will allow you to start collecting valuable data like pageviews, sessions, and acquisition data. This Google GA4 help center article can help guide you through this process.
To avoid procrastinating, make a plan to help turn this once daunting task into a simple to-do list. Start by evaluating your current Universal Analytics data structure.
- Take the time to audit both the micro and macro conversions that are on your website that make up a user’s journey. Identify data points that are not being used in Univeral Analytics and do not need to be migrated over, such as old or inactive goals/events. Identify any data points that were not being tracked in Universal Analytics but would be beneficial to have in GA4. Think critically of the data points you are collecting—what is needed to understand a user’s journey and flow through your website? Avoid falling into the trap of creating an event for every single user interaction.
- Document how you plan to name all events and parameters, so they all follow the same naming structure. This will help with organization and make it easier to understand and analyze your data in GA4.
- If you use ecommerce tracking, identify and plan what changes need to be made depending on your implementation. Some Univeral Analytics ecommerce events are not available in GA4, so you will need to update your data layer or ecommerce event tracking codes to be able to get complete ecommerce reports in GA4.
Mistake 2: Not updating default property settings
- Change your data retention settings from the default 2 months to 14 months. This data retention setting is located under the Data Settings tab in the Admin section of GA4.
Mistake 3: Forgetting to consider platform differences between Universal Analytics and GA4
- Universal Analytics and GA4 use different types of measurement models. Universal Analytics uses a session-based data model, where a session is a group of interactions that a user has with your website or app in a given time period. In contrast, GA4 uses an event-based data model, where each user interaction with your website or app is treated as an individual event. Because of this, not all metrics that were in Universal Analytics are available in GA4. Some metrics are also measured differently in GA4, such as bounce rate. You will want to familiarize yourself with the metrics available in GA4 and understand how they are measured.
- Take note of reporting interface differences. GA4 looks a bit different than Universal Analytics. Most of the reports in GA4 have been renamed or replaced, as GA4 uses a different measurement model. You’ll want to spend time getting comfortable with the GA4 interface before the big switch date.
We understand the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4 may seem challenging, but with some simple planning and familiarizing, you will be set up for success in no time. Keeping these common setup mistakes in mind can help ensure a smooth transition to GA4. If you have any additional questions about this transition, let’s connect.