All of us at Trust Insights (as well as our clients and the industry in general) have been talking about Universal Analytics (Google Analytics 3 , or GA3 for acronym fans) reaching its end of life in June 2023.
There’s just one thing this week that I wanted to make abundantly clear. You might have the jaded eye that I’ve grown into of ignoring any releases and waiting for 4.0.1 to transition so that everybody else in the world can do the beta testing. This is not one of those times. This is not an upgrade. GA4 is entirely new, this is not transitioning from Version 3 to Version 4.
When GA 3 is shut off if you don’t have GA4 set up, as of July 1st, 2023 you will have no web analytics and will be showing zero traffic across the board. (Another pet peeve of mine, saying its end of life day is July 1, 2023 means it dies in June. If you’re ever on a project like this make things end at the end of the month, not the start. You don’t want anyone thinking “yeah, it ends in July sometime, we have time” and then *sad trombone* ha ha any of July is too late.
Here’s the kicker: You don’t need to go fully GA4, or give up on GA3 now, but you do want to activate it so that it starts collecting data so that when the cutoff day comes, you have data to compare against. Comparing GA4 today data to yesterdays GA3 data just has ugly board meeting written all over it. You know, that one where the numbers are weird and nobody knows why, and then you spend the next couple weeks doing nothing productive besides explaining why the numbers changed? If you have annual and seasonal trends it would be best to have it collecting data before July 1 so you have a year of back data when GA3 is shut off.
And just to make it clearer, for most of our customers we are not recommending to go all in on GA4 now, there are a lot of things still missing, but you do want to start gathering data in GA4. Integrations for ecommerce platforms are missing, you’ll probably have some work switching your goals to events, and the transition to event based only will take some work. One notable exception is if you have an app (or apps) using Firebase for analytics, if rolling App data in with the rest of your analytics makes you do the happy dance then GA4 might be for you. Ask your Trust Insights data scientist about GA4.
And if you’re too embarrassed to ask, we’ve been talking about this a lot in the past year so we’ve got plenty of resources:
- Chris has the overview on what exactly is going on
- Change Management Implications of transitioning to GA4
- You can watch the Marketing Over Coffee website get GA4 activated to see how it’s done
- MarketingProfs Session on How to Think about GA4 with Audio/Video and transcript
- Discussion on GA4 Attribution Models
- Comprehensive guide to specific GA 4 topics, AKA more GA4 stuff than any one person could watch
- I don’t want to deal with this list have Trust Insights do it all for me
Remember, we’ve also got the free Analytics for Marketers Slack group where you can ask GA4 questions. It’s got job postings and now playing music recommendations too!
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