Tick-Tock: Why Upgrading to Google Analytics 4 before the July 1, 2023 Deadline is Essential for Your Business

Image with a Clock - Google Analytics Deadline: July 1, 2023

The Google Analytics 4 deadline is approaching: July 1, 2023. After this date, companies that have yet to migrate to GA4 will lose valuable data. You must stay caught up as a business owner or digital marketer to know about your website traffic and how users behave, and the looming deadline makes it clear the need to shift to GA4.

While the comfort of Universal Analytics (UA) might be enticing, it’s smart to take a look at the benefits of Google Analytics 4. So, let’s dive deep into why upgrading to GA4 is not only vital for your data strategy but beneficial to your business.

The Benefits of Upgrading to GA4

The Power of Enhanced Data Insights with GA4

The primary advantage of GA4 lies in its advanced machine learning, offering more detailed, actionable insights. With Google’s cutting-edge machine learning technology, GA4 can anticipate future trends and behaviors, such as customer churn probabilities or user action likelihoods. These predictive abilities are absent in UA, marking the upgrade to GA4 as a significant step forward for businesses aiming to anticipate and respond to user behavior effectively.

Improved User Tracking in GA4: A Comprehensive View of User Interactions

GA4 greatly enhances user tracking across devices and platforms. While UA is session-centric, GA4 revolves around ‘events’ and ‘users.’ It caters to today’s multi-device, multi-platform user journeys, offering an accurate, holistic view of user interactions with your website or app, regardless of the device or platform used.

Better Integration with Google’s Marketing Ecosystem

GA4 integrates effortlessly with Google’s marketing ecosystem, including Google Ads and YouTube. You can design more effective marketing campaigns with GA4 insights and these platforms’ capabilities. For instance, use GA4 to pinpoint high-value audiences for your business and specifically target these groups with Google Ads. This integration is a significant upgrade from UA, enhancing your marketing effectiveness.

GA4: Privacy-First Approach

In response to the growing focus on user privacy and data protection, GA4 adopts a ‘privacy-first’ approach. It offers features that allow more responsible handling of user data and continues to provide valuable insights even when cookies or other identifiers are not available. This becomes especially pertinent in light of some European countries banning Google Analytics due to concerns over GDPR violations. Google Analytics 4 is designed to address these issues and align with privacy laws across various countries. With increasingly strict privacy regulations worldwide, GA4 is a sustainable choice, helping your business comply with these changes. 

GA4: Future-Proofing Your Analytics

Google has declared GA4 their analytics platform’s future, consistently adding updates and improvements. In contrast, UA will eventually become outdated and won’t receive similar support or updates. Transitioning to GA4 now future-proofs your analytics strategy, ensuring you have access to the most current tools and insights.

With GA4’s advanced capabilities coming to the fore, its adoption rate steadily increases among businesses seeking to amplify their data strategies. As of March 2023, GA4 was in action across an estimated 8.4 million websites worldwide.

Global & Local Adoption Rates of GA4

Despite the clear advantages, however, a complete shift to GA4 is yet to be seen. BuiltWith.com’s data paint a telling picture:

  • Among the top 1 million websites, 50.76% utilize Google Analytics, while only 29.4% have made the leap to GA4.
  • In the internet’s top-tier—the top 10k websites—61.11% are using Google Analytics, compared to 40.93% who have upgraded to GA4.

Complementing this with our own research, we looked at the Moz 500—a list of the most popular sites worldwide based on Domain Authority—and St. Louis-related domains from the St. Louis Business Journal, TechSTL, and Give STL Day. Our findings were informative and eye-opening:

  • In the Moz 500, 49.2% operate with Google Analytics, with a closely trailing 41.8% having switched to GA4.
  • In more than 1800 local domains in St. Louis, 61.6% use Google Analytics, and 53.9% have adopted Google Analytics 4. Notably, 42.8% maintained both UA and GA4 concurrently, providing valuable data overlap.

We Aren’t Where We Should Be

These statistics underscore that while the shift to GA4 has gained momentum, there’s still a significant need for growth. The continued reliance on the older version of Google Analytics among top sites underscores the urgency of amplifying awareness about the considerable benefits of GA4. Embracing GA4 is more than staying current—it’s about harnessing cutting-edge analytics to propel your business forward.

Make the Most of GA4: Essential Configuration Tips

To effectively transition to GA4, follow these essential configuration tips:

  • Data Overlap: When you first set up GA4, run it alongside your existing Universal Analytics setup. This allows for an overlap period where both systems are collecting data. This strategy ensures that no valuable data is lost in the transition. Then once you’re confident that GA4 collects data accurately and your most frequently used reports are duplicated, consider removing Universal Analytics from your website.
  • Data Retention: For Google Analytics 4 properties (non-Analytics 360 version), the retention of user-level data, including conversions, can be set to a maximum of 14 months. By default, it is set to 2 months, so adjust this to the max to get a broader picture of what your users are doing.
  • Linking Google Accounts: Don’t forget to link your other Google Accounts, such as Google Search Console and AdWords, to your GA4 properties. Even if your accounts were linked in UA, they are not automatically linked to your new GA4 properties. These connections provide comprehensive, integrated data for your website and marketing strategies.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of the powerful features GA4 offers.

Stay Ahead with Google Analytics 4

While transitioning from UA to GA4 might appear daunting, it’s actually pretty easy, and the benefits of Google Analytics 4 are evident. Don’t let your data strategy fall behind. Be proactive, upgrade to GA4, and ensure your business is ready for the future of analytics.

We have a free GA4 Checker to assist in this crucial transition. This tool will help you assess your current analytics setup. We’ve found that most people can figure out the update after that, but if you need help feel free to reach out. And remember, the clock is ticking – the GA4 deadline is July 1, 2023. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

FAQ for Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 Migration

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4, or GA4, is the latest version of Google’s popular web analytics service. Launched in 2020, GA4 uses advanced machine learning to provide more detailed insights, better user tracking, and closer integration with Google’s marketing ecosystem. GA4 builds its framework around ‘events’ and ‘users,’ actively offering a more complete and accurate picture of user interactions with your website or app.

What is the GA4 deadline?

The deadline to upgrade from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is July 1, 2023. After this date, businesses that have yet to migrate to GA4 may lose data.

Am I using Google Analytics 3 or 4?

To determine which version of Google Analytics you are using, look at your property ID. Universal Analytics IDs begin with “UA” and end with a number (like “UA-XXXXXXXXX-1”), while GA4 IDs are purely numerical. You can find your property ID in Google Analytics by clicking the down arrow next to the Analytics logo in the top left corner to reveal the property selector. Your currently open property, highlighted in gray, will display its property ID beneath the property name. You can also use our Free GA4 Checker tool to get your answer right now!

Do I need to upgrade to Google Analytics 4?

Yes, you should plan to upgrade to Google Analytics 4. Google has clarified that GA4 is the future of its analytics platform, and the support for Universal Analytics will gradually phase out. GA4 offers many advantages over UA, such as improved data insights, better user tracking, and a privacy-first approach.

How do I update to Google Analytics 4?

To update to GA4, you need to set up a new Google Analytics 4 property in your Google Analytics account. This doesn’t replace your current Universal Analytics property but runs alongside it. Configure basic settings such as data retention and linking to other Google accounts.

How long will Google UA historical data be available after the GA4 deadline?

After the GA4 deadline of July 1, 2023, Google has committed to retaining Universal Analytics (UA) historical data for at least a year until July 1, 2024. Initially, Google stated that they would keep this data available for at least six months after the deadline, but they have now extended this period. To ensure you have continuous access to your data, we highly recommend Google Analytics users export their UA data before July 1, 2024.

Leave a Comment.