Transitioning from UA to GA4: A 6-Step Guide

Since Google plans to replace Universal Analytics (UA) with Google Analytics (GA4) in July 2023, you may think you have plenty of time to make the transition.

Since Google plans to replace Universal Analytics (UA) with Google Analytics (GA4) in July 2023, you may think you have plenty of time to make the transition.


    If you want things to go smoothly, switching to GA4 should be on your priority list.

    Both the tools have contrasting frameworks, so transitioning from UA to GA4 won’t be quick and easy. They have unique approaches to measuring and tracking your data, which will impact your business’s current metrics, KPIs, tags, and reports. 

    You need time and a solid game plan to work through these differences seamlessly and get the transition right.

    A Roadmap for Transitioning from UA to GA4

    Below is a six-step strategic plan for transitioning from UA to GA4.


    Step 1: Audit the Existing GA Metrics and Usage

    Before switching to GA4, you must understand the usage of your UA outputs and what you’re collecting currently

    Start by listing down the metrics you track and survey the business units to analyze how your organization uses these metrics, especially the ones that impact your KPIs. 

    While at it, don’t forget other tools and systems connected to your UA account, like Data Studio and Google Ads. 

    Next, map out the customizations, functionalities, and enhancements your company has developed for your UA over the years. You must understand their use cases to replicate the results in GA4. 

    The audit is also a good time to assess your data tracking, measurement, and analytics processes and evaluate your dashboards. All dashboards that rely on UA will have to shift with GA4, so you must take some time to identify any improvements that can facilitate your organizational goals. 


    Step 2: Set Up a GA4 Profile

    The next step is to build your GA4 property. Follow Google’s instructions for creating a profile and connecting it to your website. 

    Once your profile is ready, you can connect the other systems and tools you identified during auditing. 

    Next, convert your existing metrics to GA4. This may involve adding custom functionality or creating new names and labels in GA4.

    Remember that GA4 developments are still underway, and new features may be introduced regularly. You should find ways to replicate your UA customizations – third-party help may be needed for this.

    Your GA4 profile customizations may take considerable time, depending on the complexity of your existing analytics. Hence, leave some overlap with UA in your roadmap. 


    Step 3: Compare Previous Metrics with New GA4 Options

    Wait 1-1.5 months for your new GA4 account to collect and measure data before comparing it to UA results.

    Expect some differences in how your data is collected and critical factors are measured, as the two versions rely on different frameworks. Instead of a 1:1 comparison, focus on mapping out the differences to refine your customizations. Also, set aside enough time to explain and mitigate discrepancies. 

    By comparing your metrics over a few months, you’ll be in a better position to understand the impact of GA4 replacing UA. 


    Step 4: Customize and Integrate Dashboards

    GA4 introduces additional options for dashboard creation and business reporting. This new GA platform also delivers automated reports, featuring an internal report builder comparable to third-party tools. 

    While these advanced functions will make your work easier, you’ll still have to create and customize each dashboard and report that your organization relies on to map to GA4 tracking. This includes internal data reports as well as external tools.

    Some UA options aren’t available in GA4 (for example, bounce rate). You can extract the others when transitioning from UA to GA4, but you must update and customize your reports. 

    When starting, comparing results from UA and GA4 will help. However, be prepared to see measurement differences as you get the hang of GA4 as your new data analytics platform. Look out for trends that don’t map out between your profiles and consider it a sign to pay more attention to data collection and reporting. 

    Please don’t rush through it – you must correctly replicate all business reporting requirements to generate actionable insights with your metrics.

    Since you won’t be able to access historical data or reports in UA after December 2023, it’s best to get started sooner rather than later.

    Pro tip: Download your UA history before 2023 ends for reference. 


    Step 5: Get All Team Members Onboard

    You must keep end-users informed when transitioning from UA to GA4. Think beyond a heads-up for dashboard alterations to achieve effective change management. 

    Cover the following details in your communication plan: 

    • A summary of the requirements and timing of the UA to GA4 transition
    • A tutorial on the new vocabulary for a better understanding of the updated metrics
    • An explanation on gaining valuable insights using different metrics
    • Step-by-step instructions to use the changed dashboard
    • A presentation of the reporting analysis you conducted in step 4, explaining the meanings of the new numbers, trade-offs, replacements, and the best way to do data analysis in GA4


    Step 6: Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

    To keep up with the evolving GA4, you must continue improving your dashboards and optimizing your data collection and reporting processes. These ongoing enhancements will help you get the most out of your data. 


    Get Expert Help for Transitioning from UA to GA4

    Considering that UA will soon be sunset and GA4 offers many features and benefits that businesses can take advantage of, there’s no point in holding off on making the switch to the new data analytics platform.

    The transition will take time, and you may get stuck at some point, so it’s better to start now. 

    With the support and guidance of our analytics consultants, you can always get back on track after encountering a setback and ensure you have everything in place before UA phases out.

    Get in touch with our experts to create an effective plan for an end-to-end GA4 migration. Let us know what your team is up to, and we’ll help you work through all challenges. 

    Keep up on the latest GA4 news and updates – sign up for our monthly newsletter.


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