Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Make the Switch

Google has been working for years on transitioning their tracking strategy to a first party data focused approach to address growing demands for data privacy from users, most recently punctuated by their release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). I summarized the updates from Universal Analytics to the new GA4 in this article. The time has finally come, to make this update happen as Universal Analytics deprecation is on the horizon. Read on to find our top tips and general approach to get started with the transition... 

Outline Business Goals 
Focus on overall organizational goals and how that translates to the digital space. Try to avoid using any previous/old documentation of these goals – the idea is to make sure the goals outlined here are fresh and relevant to the business today. For example, if you are in healthcare and are focused on patient acquisition – the form submission for a booked appointment would be your most relevant digital conversion point. Ensure that the current tracking aligns with your most current online booking process to capture all those new patients. 

Review your current Google Analytics (and Google Tag Manager) 
Outline all your current settings, goals, events etc that you have setup in your accounts. The easiest format is something like excel or Google Sheets, so it's easily shared for collaboration. Keep in mind the new GA4 tracking is not the same, so don’t overdetail the outline – it's easy enough to go back for details you end up needing… and if you have all of this in Google Tag Manager (GTM) it will be much easier than otherwise. 

Reconcile goals vs current Google Analytics 
Consider if all the current Google Analytics (GA) features are needed for the site today and in the future. Cut out anything that’s old or not helpful, add anything new that may have been introduced in the time since the initial implementation, and update anything that may have changed since it was setup ex. did the TY page URLs change? Did you add internal site search to the experience? 

Build new implementation guide 
The new GA4 is setup slightly differently – so take a look through some of their documentation to prepare the right type of implementation plan. 

You can also visit the Developer Migration Center for migration information geared towards a developer audience. 

Make it happen! 
Use your well-prepared implementation guide and reference the Google Analytics documentation to setup your new GA4 data stream and start collecting data. The Setup Assistant will help you walk through the process. Make sure to check back in 24 hours to confirm it's all working as expected!   
The overall GA4 is not difficult if you have the proper planning and strategy in place. The evaluation and implementation guide will take time and effort to put together but will save time in the long run to make sure you are measuring KPIs back to business objectives.  

Like Benjamin Franklin said “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” so make sure to take the time to evaluate and have the necessary documentation in place to make the migration. If you want to make sure you are setup for success with GA4 in 2022 before the current version is sunset – don’t wait. Let us help, contact R2i today!   

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