How Can We Prepare to Transition to GA4?

Here is the information you need to prepare for the move to Google Analytics 4 from Analytics Universal.

Video transcript:

David: What I was thinking about running through y’all is what if we can come up with a plan together on transitioning to GA4. Here’s what I’ve done, and I would love to hear your input and see if I’m missing anything or suggestions. So, I created a GA4 profile for everybody, so they’re running concurrently, collecting data for both. Right. That’s step one. This week, Google released the conversion importer. Did you hear about this?

Tricia: No.

Tim: No.

David: There’s a wizard in GA4 that will allow you to import your leads from Universal into GA4. Your goals, I should say your goals.

Tricia: Yeah. Yeah.

David: Conversions. So, I’ve been working through that with my clients, and I found some limitations and some problems. But it’s a start.

Tricia: I’m shocked. Problems?

David: Yeah. Right. Are we shocked? But my goal is July one to have all goals and traffic in GA4. So, when it gets graveyarded a year later, there’s a year’s worth of historical data to compare against.

Tim: And all goals, and what did you say?

Tricia: Traffic.

David: Traffic and goals. Because that’s mostly what I’m interested in is traffic and goals. And once I have that set up, then I can go and start working on the dashboards and the reports in the new system because we’ll still be able to use the Universal reports for a year after the first. So, that’s my plan. Am I overlooking anything?

Tricia: So, now you said that you had already tried to import some goals on one account. Is that what you said?

David: All of them.

Tricia: Oh, on all of your accounts. Okay. So, I guess my question is, I haven’t seen that or seen how it works. Is that something like if it messes up? You just go in and mirror in GA4 and adjust whatever you need to?

David: So, the way conversion tracking works in GA4 is significantly different than in Universal. And I don’t have the vocabulary down yet to describe it.

Tricia: Okay.  

David: But GA4 is an event-based measurement, not page view-based measurement. So, an event, and GA4 will track all this cool stuff that Universal doesn’t, an event is any interaction with the site, a click, a scroll on the page, a new page opened; these are all events. Other things are all by default, but it’s event-based tracking. So, you can tell Google Analytics 4, hey, you see, when this goal gets executed in Universal, I want you to consider that a goal or a conversion in GA4. And we’ll basically tell GA4 when you see this event that looks like what we see in Universal, consider that a goal or conversion. So, let me find the article. I put the article on Twitter, so it’s there. I think it might have also been in the email from today. Oh, into my pocket. Here we go. Sharing in chat… Looking for a chat. There’s chat. So, this shows you the wizard to get to how to import the goal. So, let’s say we’re all good users of analytics, and we have created goals for all of our clients. Right? If the goals are destination goals, because we create a new landing page, we submit a form, for instance. Or we have the checkout complete page in a shopping cart, considered a goal or a conversion. Then, your GA4 can automatically start counting that as a conversion.

Tim: Automatically?

David: Well, once you use the wizard.

Tim: Okay.

David: You have to use the wizard. Where it doesn’t seem to be working is events. But that’s because, from what I understand, the event data is being sent using the Universal Analytics tracking code, not the GA4 tracking code. So, CallRail, for instance, cannot be tracked in GA4 until CallRail updates its tracking code.

Tricia: Okay.

David: If you are tracking click events, then you can’t use this wizard. However, you can set up click event tracking already in GA4 without the wizard. A while back, I added a process in Curious Ants on how to track conversions in GA4 because I felt the documentation was very confusing, so I wrote my own. So, if that helps, you may just want to do it without the wizard. But that’s my thinking, and I wanted to hear from you guys if you think I’m missing anything or…

Tricia: I’m honestly not sure because this whole GA4, you know, it’s installed and tracking, but other than that, I haven’t gotten to the goals or anything.  

David: Right, well, you see why I want to do all the goals and make sure they’re tracking properly by the first of July.

Tricia: Yeah.

Tim: That’s a good idea.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Because then we’ll have a full year’s worth. It’s also a good opportunity to go through the goals on Universal and even see if I’m… Like I noticed on one client, I’m trying to check goals that I’m not even using anymore. I cleaned those up. And so once I get that, then I’m going to start with the reports and but I don’t need to do the reports until… That’s been on my brain lately. I’m anxious about that.

Tricia: I am too.

Tim: Is this something unforeseeable contractually… like the contractual agreement that you have with your clients that would be a cause for spending the media budget on this, or how do you handle that with clients?

David: Well, with the way I do media budget, if it’s something I think that they need in order to have a successful campaign, I will spend the media budget for it. And this would be a fundamental thing in my book. We have got to know if it’s working. So, I would spend money. I don’t think it needs to have money spent because GA4 is free. It just takes my time to set this up.

Tim: Yes. And so, I think that’s what I mean. It’s like you’re your time, like are you billing for your time or compensating for that?

David: Yeah. This is… I consider this normal wear and tear. Right? Google Analytics things break every once in a while, and weird things happen, and I would take time to make sure the client is tracking accurately. It’s kind of like, you know, the whole Curious Ants process. Every six months, look at your Google Analytics and just make sure nothing’s weird. As things go wrong, clients script websites; you know, kind of like the story a couple of weeks ago where our client was not getting leads for three months even though. You know?


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