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The Benefits of the Google Analytics 4 Migration (And a Few Challenges)

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is replacing Universal Analytics (UA) as the latest web analytics platform for monitoring your audience’s journey through your digital properties. It offers users a fresh look at their analytics in a user-friendly way, with increasingly useful data.

GA4 works by tracking users across your websites and applications so that you can see how they interact with your business online. Some of the information collected includes:

  • Page visits
  • Interactions
  • Any details the user opted to make public

GA4 brings with it some new benefits and disadvantages compared to UA. Users will need to understand what’s expected and why now is the time to migrate, as the sunsetting of UA begins.

Make Your GA4 Migration Before UA Stops Collecting Data

Google has announced that Universal Analytics will stop collecting user data on July 1, 2023. Users will need to migrate to GA4 as soon as possible to keep making informed marketing decisions based on analytics. The sooner the transition is made, the more data you will have in the system when Google stops collecting data on UA in July. If it all sounds overwhelming, you can hire a marketing agency with analytics experience to help with the GA4 migration. 

While migration is necessary to keep using analytics, users will still enjoy several benefits over the current UA platform.

GA4 Benefits

As more businesses make the transition to GA4, they have enjoyed a more comprehensive view of their website analytics. Below are some of the benefits of GA4.

Website and Application Tracking in One Place

In Universal Analytics, website and application tracking occur on two separate properties. They can be combined into a single property on GA4, allowing you to view data from both locations in one single place. Now you can more easily track marketing data across all your platforms.

Enjoy Google BigQuery

Google BigQuery is a data warehouse solution that allows users to store and/or analyze vast amounts of data. There is no cost for BigQuery with the migration to GA4. UA users needed to make a paid upgrade to receive access.

Advanced Metrics Are Now Standard

Tracking interaction events such as searches, scrolls, clicks, or video engagement is a more simplified process with GA4 than with UA. No extra code is necessary to collect or access this data, making it more accessible.

Bounce rates are out, in exchange for engagement rates – calling attention to the positive side of that equation. This allows you to more easily cater to the users providing higher value to your business.

GA4 also allows for more granular tracking of events, whereas UA focused on page visits. It’s easier now to measure the true impact of a piece of content, updates to that content, or analyze user behavior to better optimize for user experience.

Better Tracking of the Customer Experience

GA4 ties events to a user, as opposed to the session as it was in UA. What this means, is that you can more easily track your users through their journey. You can more easily pinpoint some key pieces of information including:

  • The marketing channels they came through to arrive at your website.
  • How and where they engage with your products and services.
  • When and how the user’s experience is monetized.
  • How well the customer is then retained.

You’ll be better able to track how the customer discovers your business and where they might fall off before making purchases. This is more granular information that helps you better understand your audience so that you can make more informed decisions as you market to them.

Create Relevant Audience Segmentations

Using event and time parameters in GA4, you can create audience segmentations focusing on users and their behaviors and build segments based on their interactions. Any audiences defined in GA4 will have event data available for use in your Google Ad campaigns.
Take Advantage of Predictive Metrics

GA4 is largely built on machine learning. This allows for the use of predictive metrics to identify the users most likely to convert or purchase from you on your website.

Explorations Take the Place of Reporting

Now you can simply choose the segment you want to work with and add dimensions and metrics. It enables a more flexible approach to analysis.

Legal Compliance

Modern data collection is diverging from the use of third-party tracking cookies, and that change is being driven by user privacy concerns. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) regulations govern what information can be collected from users and how businesses can use it. Third-party cookies are under scrutiny in user privacy legislation, and they increasingly require user consent to operate.

GA4 works around this by using machine learning technologies for tracking, removing the reliance on third-party cookies. It allows you to respect user privacy and respect the laws, while still collecting valuable information on how your audience interacts with your digital properties.

The Challenges to GA4 Migration

While Google is mandating migration in the near future to maintain access to data, there are some challenges you’ll have to work through in the experience. Some of your methodologies may need to be updated in order to continue to get the most out of your analytics.

Lack of Migration Support

Users will not be able to migrate existing data from UA into GA4. UA will stop collecting data on July 23, 2023, and data that is collected on UA will not be visible within your GA4 properties. UA data will need to be exported into a third-party platform for continued analysis. In order to have the most data possible before UA is retired, it’s important to set up GA4 on your websites now.

Changes to the Platform

As with any new technology, it will take time to understand the changes to the interface and this may slow down your current workflows. It’s important to allot time to understanding the new features and layout of GA4. This will help ensure you are ready when you need to fully rely on GA4 for analytics.

Changes to Views

The views functionality did not carry over to GA4, meaning that you’ll have to find other means to isolate the internal traffic that your employees produce. You may need to use BigQuery to replicate this functionality in the form you are used to.

Are You Looking for a GA4 Migration?

While it’s not perfect, Google Analytics 4 offers some distinct benefits over Universal Analytics. Users are also in a position where they’ll need to migrate their Analytics to GA4 because Google is sunsetting UA. VisionFriendly.com currently has a special offer running for GA4 migrations. Contact us today to find out more!

About the Author:

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VisionFriendly.com is a Chicago digital marketing agency with over 25 years of experience helping clients nationwide. We have an in-house team of marketers and creatives ready to improve your business’s marketing operations.

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