Move to Google Analytics 4 now before GA3 is phased out

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Last year Google announced that it will be phasing out Google Analytics 3 (GA3), also known as Universal Analytics, in 2023. In a statement, it said “we will begin sunsetting Universal Analytics – the previous generation of Analytics.

When does GA4 take over?

All standard Universal Analytics properties will stop processing new hits on 1st July 2023, and 360 Universal Analytics properties will receive a one-time processing extension ending on 1st July 2024.

Google announced in October 2020 the release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), which is now the default experience for new properties and accounts. So anyone signing up to Google Analytics for the first time will be using GA4, as standard, but existing users have to switch over to the new experience.

Why switch to GA4 before July 2023?

The GA4 switchover introduces a fleet of powerful new features, including customer lifecycle and churn probability – advanced features for data-driven businesses, right out of the box. So that in itself is a good reason to switch over to GA4 as soon as possible but there’s a more pressing reason to make the move now.

Google Analytic 4 new dashboard

Google Analytics 4 doesn’t currently migrate your data over when you switch, which means you don’t have any historical data available when you move to the new version. If you move over to Google Analytics 4 now, you can run both your new and old accounts alongside each other and start collecting data in GA4 before the old version is phased out.

For Google Analytics 4 properties (non Analytics 360 version), retention of user-level data, including conversions, can be set to a maximum of 14 months. For all other event data, you can choose the length of retention:

  • 2 months
  • 14 months

The two-month retention period is always applied to age, gender, and interest data regardless of your settings. When you increase the retention period it is applied to data that you have already collected. Large and XL properties are limited to 2 months.

We can help you move over to GA4

To help businesses moving to GA4, we’ve created a dedicated service to make the transition easier and protect as much of your historical data as possible.

This involves creating a new GA4 property for you, running it alongside your existing Universal Analytics (GA3) property and setting up your new account to start collecting data correctly.

This involves five key steps:

  1. Basic setup: We create your new Google Analytics 4 account at the property level, allowing us to run it concurrently with GA3 to collect data for the first 1-2 months.
  2. GA4 events: Add events in your new account to track key user actions on your website – ag: CTA clicks, items added to shopping cart, form interactions, video views, etc.
  3. GA4 goals: Create goals using your GA events (where applicable) so that you can track key conversion goals and objectives as users interact with your website.
  4. GA4 audience configuration: Add configurations to collect and view data for different audience types – eg: organic traffic, new visitors, returning visitors, buyer personas, etc.
  5. Confirmation: After the initial setup process, we let your new GA4 property run and confirm that it’s collecting data as expected after the first month.

Above all, the sooner you start collecting data in Google Analytics 4, the less disruptive the move will be. By moving over to GA4 now, you have as much time as possible to get the new system set up and collect as much historical data as you can before the old version is no longer available.

The trick is making sure that you bring over as much data as you can from your existing account and setting up GA4 to collect all of the data you need. While the new experience brings a lot of impressive features to the table, there are some important differences in terms of data collection that you’ll need to be aware of.

Need help getting set up?

If you need help setting up GA4, talk to our experts today. We have already done this for many of our customers so that they don’t miss out on crucial data insights. Call us on 02392 830281 or email [email protected].

Adam Futer profile picture
Adam Futer

With more than 6 years’ experience specialising in SEO, Adam has in-depth knowledge of user experience and how to increase a website’s visibility and traffic from search. His motto is “You can bring all the traffic in the world to the website, but if it isn’t good enough to convert then it’s wasted traffic”. Adam joined Vertical Leap in 2015 as an SEO specialist. By analysing call to actions, navigation features and text content (to name a few of the tasks), Adam is adept at getting a firm grasp on a website’s main goals; generating audits on how a website should be changed to improve its sales/leads. The world of SEO and user experience is always changing, and Adam makes sure to research everything so that he can keep on top of this ever-changing industry and deliver the best results for his clients. Whilst living in America is always a dream, Adam has grown up and lived in Portsmouth his whole life. When he is not working, Adam enjoys all kind of sports including football, tennis, and in particular American Football. His biggest ambition? To one day watch the Super Bowl live!

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