Now that you’ve decided to migrate to GA4 you must understand that it’s not going to be a one-click transfer. People who are planning a transition to the new Google Analytics platform will have to follow a step-by-step GA4 migration guide to get there. GA4 Google Analytics and Universal Analytics are quite different from one another as far as their data collection and structure are concerned. So, it may help to have a GA4 migration checklist in hand to ensure a seamless and hassle-free switch. Data migrations are always daunting for people who have had no prior experience in it. But, if you can create a plan and stick to this, migration is usually faster and smoother.
If you compared GA4 vs Universal Analytics you will see that the former isn’t simply a redesign of UA but a totally new product. While it may offer many similar functions, there are some key differences in terms of metrics measured and the interface and dashboard.
Who should use a GA4 migration guide?
It’s important to understand that not everyone is making the switch right away. The guide will help if you run an agency or are a web designer keen to provide GA4 migration services. It’s also useful if you happen to be a data-driven marketer looking for reliable data to track campaigns. A guide is essential for someone who owns a website and intends to do the GA4 migration on his own.
What is included in the GA4 migration checklist?
To migrate to the new Google Analytics 4, you must first back up data from the UA platform. This is simple and you don’t have to rush through it. Reports can be exported manually to Google Sheets, Excel, or PDFs. If you have been using Google Analytics 360, you can export the data to Big Query. Backing up may not be urgent immediately, but it’s important to remember that Google won’t hold onto your data forever.
- Evaluate existing measurement strategy: You should not rush the migration but evaluate the current measurement system carefully to see how it’s working. When you assess the situation, you will understand if you are ready for a migration to GA4. Google’s support page will inform you if this is true. Now, even if your platform is ready for a transfer, the process may not be flawless. You may continue to face data discrepancies in the new account. So, prepare first and then make the switch to avoid losing data. When evaluating, see if the UA platform had been tracking all the necessary KPIs and metrics. See if your business has undergone changes, whether you have introduced an app, or started catering to clients worldwide.
- Dual tracking: Data will not be transferred to GA4 from UA perfectly and in some cases, you may not get data at all in GA4. However, you can be sure that you will be able to access UA even after migration. In short, you can collect data from both GA4 and UA and learn how to navigate GA4 before you make a full switch.
- Install GA4 with UA: Instead of touching the UA property right away, set up GA4 alongside it. To do so, you must first create your new GA4 account and the new tracking code. You may use Google Tag Manager when you already have a GTM account or do this manually through a tracking code.
- Know the differences: To do a proper migration, you must know Universal Analytics vs GA4 differences. Their navigation menus are different and you may have to forget many UA principles to adapt to the new GA4 model. GA uses an event-based model while the earlier UA uses a hit-based model. A comparison of GA4 vs Universal Analytics will show you that the former is more focused on privacy and uses machine learning for predictive modeling. So, instead of comparing these two platforms at the initial stages, you should try and learn admin settings to make the required changes. Take time to learn about properties. When you have learned the ropes well, you can improve data collection using enhanced measurements.
- Configure Google Analytics 4 account: GA4 looks quite easy on the surface, but the tool has many hidden aspects. You must make yourself familiar with its features to configure the account. To configure, you have to understand new dependencies or factors which you must incorporate to suit your business needs. Start by reviewing whether GA4 events have potential conversions. Next, you must create audience segments and track the in-app purchases. Whenever you create custom parameters, you must register these as custom dimensions.
- Migrate events from UA: When you have created a new GA4 property you need to migrate events from UA. Events in GA are very different from those in UA and this must be done meticulously. At this stage, you must add things that haven’t been migrated automatically from UA. You must also correct things that may have gone wrong during migration. Before recreating events in GA4, you should make a list of these. That will tell you which events have value and must be migrated. Compare the two platforms and evaluate conversions and events one by one. Mark the events in the GA4 platform as conversions and then check if these were configured correctly. You need to understand that GA4 tracking is far more flexible because you can create your own parameters.
- Connect the GA4 account: You must integrate the platform with other Google products and tools so that these can work in sync without any hiccups. For this, you need to check integrations like Google Optimize, Google Ads, AdSense, etc that were present in UA and connect these to GA4 property.
- Create reports: When you have data and you find it’s working optimally, you can start reporting. This is the ultimate goal for people using an analytics tool. GA4 has many templates for reports and you get to choose from traffic acquisition reports, funnel reports, automated insights, etc.
- Create GA4 dashboards: GA4 collects an overwhelming amount of data that is hard to navigate. You may create data visualization reports to make this data easy to digest. Databox is a visualization tool offering one-click integrations which you can use for creating visually-stunning reports. This has built-in dashboards that can be customized by GA4 users. For example, the GA4 Engagement Overview dashboard will let you calculate the overall user engagement for your app or website. You will be able to see how your visitors are interacting with your key pages and what actions they are performing.
- Monitor data regularly: When you have migrated to GA4, you must keep monitoring the data. GA4 isn’t something that you install and forget; the process of migration isn’t complete overnight. Like other tools, it keeps changing as do your business needs. So, you have to be prepared to adjust to the new changes and reevaluate your KPIs and metrics from time to time. All apps are affected by bugs and are prone to making errors. This is why you need to be familiar with account auditing. Learn how to troubleshoot data filters, cater to data deletion requests, and monitor data collection.
- Testing and validation: Once you migrate to GA4, you need to test to see if the referral exclusions and cross-platform tracking are working as expected. Verify whether your GA4 tracking is working properly and whether all events are getting tracked accurately. Test the conversions to see if these are being tracked as expected.
- Post-Migration tasks: You should debug filters in the new platform and allow for data retention for about 14 months.
This GA4 migration checklist includes all the important steps for a successful and hassle-free migration from the Google Analytics Universal platform. But, you need to understand that every migration will be unique and you may have to undertake some extra steps depending on your business set-up and needs. You should also make an effort to understand the ways in which GA4 measures the bounce rate and which practices are the best for creating custom dimensions.
A migration from UA to GA4 is likely to be filled with roadblocks because it’s a daunting task. This is harder when your business deals with a lot of data or custom configurations. However, when you have a migration checklist and plan in place, you can ensure a seamless switch to GA4.
Come July 2023 and the default UA platform won’t collect data any more for you. Given that the deadline for migrating to GA4 is so close, you don’t have a lot of time to ponder. Start looking for reputed GA4 migration services if you aren’t sure how to go about it. They will provide you with a step-by-step migration guide and conform to a checklist to get this done.