Industry Insights
  • Google GA4 Analytics
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2022-04-09T01:40:46+00:00April 08, 2022|

Moving from Google Universal Analytics to GA4 Without Losing Data

Did you know? Google will be sunsetting Google Analytics Universal as of July 2023.

The touchpoints people use to interact with the internet have multiplied. And attitudes about the tracking of online activity are changing. The mechanisms content creators and marketers use to measure performance in impressions, leads and conversions need to change, too.

Third-party cookies are already on their way out, and now analytics need to evolve. As Google explains, “Google Universal Analytics was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions and more easily observable data from cookies.”

Google Analytics 4, or GA4, which is the replacement “operates across platforms, does not rely exclusively on cookies and uses an event-based data model to deliver user-centric measurement.” It also addresses the increasing desire for user control over privacy: “Google Analytics 4 is designed with privacy at its core to provide a better experience for both our customers and their users.”

What is an Event-based Data Model?

Event-based analytics track and analyze interactions between a user and your digital presence. An event is any action or behavior that occurs within a digital touchpoint, such as a mobile app, email, product dashboard, CRM, or webpage.

Here are some of the advantages of event-based data analytics:

  • The Full Journey: You’ll have a complete view of the customer lifecycle that isn’t fragmented by platform or organized into independent sessions.
  • Improved ROI: Attribution has always been difficult for marketers and without it, it can be hard to target which elements of a campaign moved the needle. Google points out that data-driven attribution allows you to analyze the full impact of your marketing across the customer journey.
  • Closer Integration: Integrations with other Google products, like Google Ads, will work across your combined web and app data, making it easy to use Analytics insights to optimize your campaigns.

Does This Change Impact You?

Here’s how to tell:

  • If you created your property before October 14, 2020, you’re likely using a Universal Analytics property. This means you’ll need to switch.
  • If you created your property after October 14, 2020, you’re likely using a Google Analytics 4 property already, and no action is required.

The July Deadline is Closer Than You Think

While the official sunset date for Universal Analytics is July 2023, this July 1,2022 is the red-letter day for marketers who want to be able to measure performance over time. Here’s why.

There will be no way to import analytics data from Universal into GA4. In order to guarantee that there is no gap in your data, you should begin using GA4 before July 1, 2022. That way you will have a full year of performance data in GA4 when it becomes your primary analytics platform in July 2023.

Failing to do this can leave you with a blind spot in visibility into your historical marketing performance.

Year-over-year performance can be an especially valuable metric to track for higher ed. Measuring website visits and ad clicks is crucial to understanding interest in your school and can impact enrollment forecasting. It’s important not to leave yourself wishing you didn’t have a hole where the previous year’s data should be.

What You Should Do

Moving to GA4 now, while you still have a full year of analytics data in Universal Analytics to refer to, is a smart move. You also have the opportunity before July 1 to ensure critical backups of past analytics data are created. Eventually, Universal Analytics data will be deleted from Google.

This is a good habit to get into. While Google Analytics Universal retained ALL website data indefinitely. GA4 retains only 14 months of data within the tool.

If you’ve been considering a way to transform the way your school approaches data, this could be a perfect opportunity to jumpstart such a project. Collegis is up-to-speed on the implications of the transition to GA4 and can help you make the switch.

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