- New in GA4. GA4 offers improved tracking, granular data and enhanced features, making migration a priority for businesses to optimize customer journeys and user experiences.
- Common migration challenges. Common migration challenges include the learning curve, data discrepancies and configuration issues; careful planning and customization can mitigate these problems.
- Migrating to and adopting GA4 successfully. Successful GA4 adoption requires thorough data testing, validation and monitoring of essential success metrics to ensure a seamless transition and improved analytics strategy.
CMSWire is holding its upcoming conference, CMSWire Connect, May 10 – May 12 this year in Austin, Texas. The conference will host speakers from various domains within customer experience and the digital sphere. CMSWire is running Q&As with featured speakers leading up to the conference.
Stephanie Petrusha, director of technology at Cylogy, gives a summary of GA4’s key features below, encouraging businesses to migrate their data as soon as possible. Some of these features include predictive analytics, a more comprehensive idea of the customer journey and more. GA4 incorporates a new underlying data model that takes on a far more granular view of tracking user behavior based on events, leading to a more accurate reflection of how users browse and experience a site.
Petrusha advises care when migrating data from UA to GA4. Furthermore, since they are based on different data models, the reporting numbers will look quite different. Running both UA and GA4 reporting in parallel and showing how the data from both correlate can help prepare management for the transition to the new model.
Petrusha will be leading the session, "GA4 Migration Essentials for Business Managers: Avoiding Data Pitfalls, Maximizing Customer Experience Insights," along with colleague Lindsay Sullivan, VP of services at Cylogy, at CMSWire Connect.
A Quick Rundown of Key Differences Between UA and GA4
CMSWire: Could you provide an overview of the key differences between Universal Analytics and GA4, and why businesses should prioritize migrating to GA4 as the deadline approaches?
Petrusha: GA4 incorporates a new underlying data model that takes on a far more granular view of tracking user behavior based on events, leading to a more accurate reflection of how users browse and experience a site.
Some of its key features are:
- Predictive analytics
- A more comprehensive suite of reporting around the customer lifecycle
- Better privacy controls
- GA4 leverages AI to estimate and fill the gaps in reporting
- The ability to track events without code or Google Tag Manager
- New interfaces including a new navigation and data visualizations
- More options for data imports
- Tighter integration with Google Ads
Businesses should transition to the GA4 setup as soon as possible and run reporting in parallel with Universal Analytics. You may run into issues when transitioning from UA to GA4. Since GA4 and UA are based on different data models, the reporting numbers are going to look quite different. Running both UA and GA4 reporting in parallel and showing how the data from both correlate can help prepare management for the transition to the new model. Upgrading to GA4 is also an opportunity to take a fresh look at your analytics and improve or even overhaul them.
Common Google Analytics Migration Issues and How to Avoid Them
CMSWire: What are the most common data pitfalls and challenges that businesses face during the migration process from Universal Analytics to GA4, and how can they avoid these issues?
- Transitioning to GA4 has a steeper learning curve.
- GA4’s data retention policy will require you to create your own warehousing architecture if you want to retain data older than 14 months.
- The reporting numbers are quite different, and it will take some time to understand.
- Using the GA4 Setup Assistant and auto migrating your UA property to a new GA4 property might not be the best idea. Not all UA configurations have an obvious GA4 counterpart, and the automated process might not make the same choices as you would.
- Forms — if you have multiple 3rd party form integrations (i.e. Marketo) you might have tracking issues.
- Issues with importing existing UA goals as event conversions.
- Issues with migrating users — you can only migrate users that have the correct permissions to the property and have permission for all of its views.
- Conversions are not showing up in GA Reports, including Google ad conversions.
- Explorations reporting — only the user creating them can edit them.
How GA4 Helps Optimize Customer Journeys and Experiences
CMSWire: Can you explain how GA4 can help businesses optimize customer journeys and improve user experience? Are there any specific features or tools that you would recommend to achieve this?
Petrusha: One of the advantages of GA4 is that reporting is provided at each stage of the customer journey: acquisition, engagement, monetization and retention. These views provide the ability to drill down into each of the associated reports. These detailed reports help teams make impactful changes to their site which will ultimately drive insights to improve customer experiences and increase conversions.
Predictive analytics via custom and exploration reports is one feature I would recommend.
- Purchase probability: chance an active user will log a “conversion event”
- Churn probability: chance of an active user will not be active within the next seven days
- Predicted revenue: revenue expected from all purchase conversations from an active use.
Related Article: 8 Google Analytics 4 Features That Leave Universal Analytics in the Dust
Checking if Migration Was Successful
CMSWire: What are some essential success metrics that businesses should track and monitor during and after the migration process to ensure a successful transition to GA4?
Petrusha: Once migrated, you need to test and validate your data. Trigger an event on your website and then go to your reports to see if it was successfully tracked. If it is not, you can use tools such as GA debugger and tag assistant to identify why information is not being tracked.
How Businesses Are Implementing the New Features
CMSWire: Can you share any best practices or real-life examples of businesses that have successfully migrated to GA4 and leveraged its capabilities for customer journey optimization and improved user experience?
Petrusha: Yes, I have had several clients improve and optimize their website search experience. Often, analytic tracking on their search functionality identified complex capabilities that were not being used and were preventing their users from getting the search results they were looking for. GA4 has provided better tracking and better reporting of their users’ search journey.
Related Article: Prompt Engineering and Its Vital Role in AI-Driven Marketing
GA4 Migration and More
Stephanie Petrusha is one of many speakers at the May 10 - May 12 CMSWire Connect conference. You can take a peek at her speaking engagement here: [Breakout] GA4 Migration Essentials for Business Managers: Avoiding Data Pitfalls, Maximizing Customer Experience Insights
Want more details on the conference? Click here to visit the CMSWire Connect site.
Check out the full list of CMSWire Connect panel topics, and don't miss the full list of CMSWire Connect speakers.