Steps to Upgrade to GA4
We’ve provided the following steps to help guide the process of upgrading to GA4. This process below assumes you have an existing Universal Analytics implementation. If not, skip directly to the Planning your GA4 implementation section.
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Set up GA4 in parallel to Universal Analytics if you have one
It is best practice to set up GA4 in parallel to Universal Analytics to give yourself as much historical GA4 data as possible and validate the data GA4 is collecting against Universal Analytics. Keep in mind that Universal Analytics and GA4 collect and process data differently so it is unlikely to find complete data parity between the two platforms.
You can follow the guided setup using the GA4 Setup Assistant in the property settings of your Google Analytics admin interface to create a new GA4 property and select the automatic events you’d like to collect. Before you proceed with an advanced implementation we recommend you consider the following steps.
Plan your Google Analytics 4 migration
To prepare for your Universal Analytics to GA4 implementation you’ll want to audit and document your UA implementation to determine what tracking features you’d like to migrate to your new GA4 implementation.
If you’re using Google Tag Manager to manage your Universal Analytics implementation (and advertising tags) use this opportunity to audit all of the tags, triggers and variables within your Container, documenting the purpose of the tag, the trigger firing conditions, the data the tag is collecting and if the tag is still needed. Remove any tags that are no longer needed.
Some things to consider when you audit the data in your Universal Analytics property:
- Goals and e-commerce
- Custom events
- Custom dimensions
- Custom metrics
- Content groups
- Cross domain settings
- Property admins / users
Planning your GA4 implementation
Create a Google Analytics 4 measurement plan and implementation framework
A measurement plan is a place to document your business objectives and how those objectives map to events in Google Analytics 4. You’ll want to use the information from the Universal Analytics and GTM audit you’ve completed to inform your desired future state of GA4 and add any tracking that will leverage new functionality in GA4.
With some planning and testing you can avoid data collection issues and missed opportunities.
Create an implementation framework
The final step before implementing GA4 is creating an implementation framework. An implementation framework is a document that maps the exact criteria for the data you want to collect and how you, or your developer, will implement it.
Google Analytics 4 is a paradigm shift in data collection and opportunities for analysis. As such, it is strongly recommended that it is in place and run in parallel with your existing Universal Analytics solution to provide you with the opportunity to compare the two solutions side by side, begin to capture data within GA4, and validate it alongside the Universal Analytics platform you’re familiar with.
At the most basic level, GA4 implementation is straightforward and can be executed within Google Tag Manager. However, this shift presents a significant opportunity to reevaluate your analytics objectives, and properly position yourself to maximize the value of your data and benefits that Google Analytics 4 offers. The window of time to do so in parallel to running Universal Analytics is closing. Engaging an experienced GA4 consultancy to strategize and implement your GA4 integration is one way to ensure a swift and effective transition.
In our next article we’ll cover some of the major details of why you should upgrade now from Universal Analytics to GA4. You can also learn more about how Google Analytics 4 is different from Universal Analytics.