Universal Analytics will be replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4) on July 1, 2023, right around the corner. How does this affect you? First, you should make the switch to GA4 from UA as detailed in our previous post. After that you should download the past data you’d like to keep before it’s lost forever.
What is GA4?
Google says, “Google Analytics 4 is an analytics service that enables you to measure traffic and engagement across your websites and apps.” While this sounds exactly like the current version of their data tracking software, Universal Analytics, Google Analytics 4 was created to improve their system to protect user privacy better.
Universal Analytics currently utilizes cookies to track users’ data. Cookies are files that are used by websites to save browsing information. Ultimately, they improve the user experience by, for example, remembering your site preferences or keeping you signed in. However, cookies store your data in order to do this, which has led to some privacy concerns.
Google Analytics 4 was designed with user privacy at the core of its development. It aims to provide a better user experience by collecting data of consenting users and using data anonymization to store their information safely. This means that Google will no longer store user IP addresses and cannot track them.
Additionally, GA4 enables a more advanced cross-device tracking system. This allows you to track a user’s journey across multiple devices accurately. It even allows you to see how far a user scrolled down a page before they exited the site. In short, this will allow businesses to improve their websites by updating areas that seem to lose traffic.
Lastly, while many other changes are coming with GA4, another significant change is that “Goals” will now by tracked as “Conversion Events.” This allows you to track a wider range of actions to get better insights on how users interact with your website. You can even create custom conversion events to track specific actions important to your business. Ultimately, this will help you to understand the user journey better and optimize for it.
Why Should You Switch?
You might think Universal Analytics has worked just fine for you over the years, so why would you switch? The short answer is that you don’t have a choice.
Google has announced that Universal Analytics will officially stop tracking data on July 1, 2023. If you don’t already have a Google Analytics 4 account by this date, Google will create one for you. This process of converting your account began in April of this year.
What’s Your Timeframe?
If you want to continue tracking data, you must switch now. Your Universal Analytics account is rapidly expiring. Once July 1st comes around, you will have a limited time to access the data you’ve tracked over the years, and then it will be gone forever!
This data is extremely valuable as it aids in the strategic development process for your business moving forward. Therefore, you need to download what information means most to you before it disappears forever. For example, if you don’t download anything, everything down to your website performance history will be gone.
What Years Should You Download?
We recommend you download your data from at least 2019 -2022. 2019 was a pre-pandemic economy which is helpful for comparison to your current traffic to verify if your business has recovered from the pandemic and, if so, by how much.
Google has stated that you will be able to export this data until July 2024. Our advice is to download the information you’d like to keep available to you into spreadsheets now and then save it for future data comparisons.
Stay In The Know!
If you have any additional questions about making the switch to Google Analytics 4, please reach out. We’re here to help.