by Ryan Allman
If you’re a marketer, or you work with one, you’ve likely heard that Google will be making the switch from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Even though the official date for the switch isn’t until July 1, 2023, if your business values year-over-year data (yes, this means you), the deadline is actually, well… today. This is because UA and GA4 are fundamentally different so their metrics aren’t compatible. Starting today, July 1, 2022, every day that goes by is one more day you’ll have to wait for year-over-year data in GA4 next year if you haven’t yet set it up.
Think back to what your business, or any business for that matter, looked like 10 years ago when UA was rolled out in 2012. Were you selling products online? Did you have an app? Since then the landscape of digital commerce has changed in monumental ways. Adaptation of the new analytics platform will lead to deeper insights and ultimately better business results.
Instead of page-view and session-based metrics, GA4 is built around the concept of events. It’s great to know how many people are coming to your site and what pages they visit, but the cross-platform capabilities of GA4 can track an individual user’s engagement across your website through to your app. Cohorts of these users can then be created and targeted with Google ad campaigns. GA4 will also make the most of some new technologies such as AI predictive insights to give us new features like revenue prediction, and even purchase and churn probability. (Louder for my SaaS friends in the back!)
With so much to gain, getting GA4 set up and collecting data should be a top priority if you haven’t done so yet. Unlocking its full potential will take some planning and time, but even the simplest implementation will at least begin collecting as much data as you’re likely used to seeing in UA.
The good news is you don’t have to adopt a new analysis workflow or adjust your reporting KPIs just yet. Since UA and GA4 can run in tandem, continue using UA the way you have been once you have GA4 up and running. Begin familiarizing yourself with GA4’s revamped dashboard and some of the new tools and reports available to you as your data accumulates over time.
So if you’ve been putting off GA4 setup in favor of other more pressing priorities, you probably need to just bite the proverbial bullet and get it done. Your year-from-now self will thank you.
Ryan Allman consults with GSV’s SaaS platforms on marketing strategy and execution. With creative and marketing leadership roles in both corporate and agency settings, his depth and breadth of experience enables him to advance brands’ conversion-focused marketing initiatives for greater reach and results.