Making the Switch to GA4: A Marketing Team’s Experience Moving to A New Google Product
Our team shares its firsthand GA4 transition thoughts as we adjust to a new Google Analytics platform and anticipate the sunsetting of Universal Analytics.
The clock is ticking. As of July 1 Google’s Universal Analytics will be sunsetted and we’ll all be forced to 100% use Google Analytics 4. Are you ready? Since our previous blog on the subject, we’ve been getting nice and cozy with GA4. It required us to really coordinate as a team and get clear on a lot of things. Here’s a deeper dive in what we discovered along the way.
The GA4 Build
One jarring thing that anyone who’s used Google Ads can relate to, are all the settings. And even though there’s a wizard that can take you through it, you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s scary when you’re thinking about how important it is nowadays to get your data hygiene right (more on that later).
Before we transitioned to GA4, there were a few things we considered in terms of our build. First, we needed to have a clear understanding of the data we wanted to track and how we wanted it organized. We also had to think about how we’d be integrating GA4 with other tools and platforms we use, such as Google Ads or Google Tag Manager. And we needed a plan for tracking conversions and other key metrics, making sure we had the necessary tags and triggers set up.
Day-to-Day GA4 Use
Working in GA4 has been a journey. It’s not the feeling that someone’s moved your cheese – it’s going from cheddar to Gruyère. That said, the more we work in this thing the more it makes sense.
GA4 has a more modern look and feel, with a greater emphasis on data visualization and exploration. This can take some getting used to, but it also provides some great new features and functionality.
You’ve seen all the tips hit your inbox and LinkedIn feeds about transitioning to GA4. And in all of these guides you’re advised to back up your UA data. But how much? And which metrics? And which method is best? If you were scanning this for a clear-cut answer, the answer varies! As you can imagine, it’s been frustrating and you may be frustrated, too.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of deduping, that comes into play too. You may get the sinking feeling sometimes that the math isn’t mathing in your GA4 reports and you could be right. This can happen if you have multiple tracking codes on your site, or if you’re using a tool like Google Tag Manager to send events to both UA and GA4.
You may also encounter sampling issues when working with GA4 data. To avoid this, we had to make sure we’re sending all the data we need to GA4, including custom dimensions and metrics. Knowing when (and how) to adjust the sampling rate is important as well.
At the end of the day, we’re marketers and this isn’t our first rodeo. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, let us work with you to create a customized GA4 transition plan that aligns with your business goals and integrates seamlessly with your other tools and platforms. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you take your digital marketing efforts to the next level.
Sarah Snyder-Castañeda is a Digital Ads Manager and Content Creator with a long-established career in SEO/SEM. Originally a journalist, her background in writing and research informs her approach that combines the technical and human aspects of marketing. A lifelong passionate learner, Sarah enjoys sharing her knowledge of all things digital.